Stalkerware Developer Demands TechCrunch Remove Article Detailing Its Leaking Of Sensitive Data

from the set-weapons-to-'backfire' dept

Last week, stalkerware purveyor ClevGuard was discovered to be hosting tons of sensitive data harvested from victims’ phones in an Alibaba data bucket set to public with no password protection. ClevGuard makes KidsGuard, an app whose name suggests it’s something parents can use to monitor their children’s cell phone use, but the developer has helpfully noted the software’s also great for monitoring spouses and employees.

After being notified of the issue, Alibaba secured the bucket and made sure ClevGuard was made aware of the problem. But ClevGuard’s not finished being stupid about this. Rather than quietly go about securing its exfiltrated data — which includes contacts, photos, GPS location data, and content harvested from a variety of messaging apps — the company has decided it would like to raise its infamy level and ensure even more people know about its horrific stalkerware.

Zack Whittaker broke the news at TechCrunch, publishing a lengthy expose of both the product and its insecure data storage. And now ClevGuard is baselessly demanding he take down his article.

If you can’t see/read the tweet, Whittaker says:

We just received an email from ClevGuard asking us to delete the two articles we published this week about the KidsGuard stalkerware, which has been used to spy on thousands of victims.

We declined.

Whittaker has also put together a how-to guide for removing this stalkerware from your device, which probably isn’t improving TechCrunch/ClevGuard relations.

And while we’re discussing ClevGuard, let’s take a quick look at its marketing efforts, which directly contradict the End User License Agreement the company pushes on users.

Here are the limitations ClevGuard supposedly imposes on users, in all of its original, gloriously-broken English:

You comprehend that the Site and ClevGuard will be utilized just for the reasons for underneath (I) parental control of their kids, (ii) on a gadget, which is of your possession, under such situation, you should get authorization from the client being observed, (iii) other legal points as per the laws in your very own purview. The terms of Child is characterized as underneath:

Youngster: Your very own lawful kid that is under the legitimate age of 18 (as characterized by US law). The kid must be observed utilizing a perfect telephone that you possess. You can’t screen a kid on the off chance that you hold one of the accompanying connections:

• Brother/Sister
• Step-Brother/Step-Sister
• Step-Father/Step-Mother
• Aunt/Uncle; Cousin/Nephew
• Grandfather/Grandmother
• Great-Grandfather/Great-Grandmother

Worker: Your representative at an organization you claim or a representative at indistinguishable organization from you and you have administrative duties regarding. The representative must be checked utilizing a perfect telephone claimed by the organization and issued to the worker under your organization’s approaches with respect to organization telephones. The representative must give assent and be advised they are being observed before checking can start.

So, according to ClevGuard’s own EULA, the stalkerware can only “legally” be used to monitor “youngsters” and “workers.” (And only on “perfect telephones,” which are generally only found in the Oval Office.)

But the company’s quasi-blog suggests customers should use the software in ways that break the EULA, offering up reasons why KidsGuard is better than its competitors for stalking spouses and significant others. Here’s a post detailing the “2 Best Ways to Track my Girlfriend’s Phone,” with KidsGuard beating out the built-in “Find My Phone” feature. Here’s a list of the “10 Best Couple Tracker Apps” with KidsGuard topping the list. ClevGuard’s site is full of “helpful” posts pushing KidsGuard to monitor something other than “youngsters” and “workers,” suggesting it’s not just “perfect telephones” that can be spied on with ClevGuard’s software.

To sum up: ClevGuard is a terrible company offering a horrible product that can be abused to spy on nearly anyone without their knowledge. The data then — until recently — ended up in unsecured data buckets. But why should ClevGuard try harder? This sensitive data belongs to people being spied on. Screw them for being covertly surveilled, I guess. Nothing to hide, nothing to fear, etc. The bogus demand TechCrunch remove its article is just the expired icing on ClevGaurd’s garbage cake.

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Companies: clevguard, techcrunch

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Comments on “Stalkerware Developer Demands TechCrunch Remove Article Detailing Its Leaking Of Sensitive Data”

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Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Wink, wink, nudge, nudge

You can only track your kids or your workers on a perfect phone. But [wink, wink, nudge, nudge] if you were to fib [wink, wink, nudge, nudge], it’s not like we would check..and if you run it on any phone that happens to run our software even if it’s [wink, wink, nudge, nudge] less than perfect, well [wink, wink, nudge, nudge] who’s to know? [wink, wink, nudge, nudge]

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Hey Becki!!
Your parents don’t trust you, decided spying was a better way to do it, & now your deepest darkest secrets are out there on the web.

Dear parents if you think STALKING your child is the correct way to parent, you have failed.
If you think your kids will thank you someday, stop doing drugs.

You have damaged any shot you had knowing anything about your kids lives. You have shown you are not trustworthy & will treat them not as people but as targets to be secretly monitored.

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