Privacy Hacktivist Wipes Data From Spyware Developer’s Servers

By Marilia Wyatt

A privacy hacktivist has deleted photos captured from monitored devices of spyware developer Retina-X Studios, HackRead reports.

The Florida-based company develops computer and smartphone monitoring software and applications for parents and employers.

The market for surveillance tech raises concerns about unethical data use. The type of software known as “stalkerware,” provides full access to targets’ smartphones and computers.  It could also read text messages, see browsing history, and track location data.

Protecting privacy appears to have motivated the hacktivist to wipe the developer’s cloud servers.

“I don’t want to live in a world where younger generations grow up without privacy,” said the vigilante hacker,  according to MotherBoard. 

The hacker going by the online handle of Precise Buffalo reportedly erased 1 terabyte of data from Retina’s cloud servers including photos that customers had taken from unsuspecting users including kids who installed Retina-X’s Phonesheriff application on their smartphone.

A Retina-X spokesperson said in an email to MotherBoard that it had not detected the breach. However, testing by MotherBoard revealed the hacker had access to company servers.

“None of this should be online at all. Aside from the technical flaws, I really find this category of software disturbing. In the US, it’s mainly targeted to parents,” the hacker said.

In 2017, a security breach revealed that consumers use Retina’s software to spy on their partners.  The software which  gathers a lot of personal information has potential lax security practices. A MotherBoard Q&A with an unnamed Retina-X hacker said that while digging through a bunch of data he/she found both confidential information like photos of job application forms and intimate photos.

“Other than the creepiness of it, I was kind of offended by how little they protect all this data,” the hacker explained in 2017. “I don’t want to spread the dumped files in public, but parents and employers using this software need to know that it sucks up their children/employees’ private data (GPS logs, photos, SMS messages…) and stores it on pathetically insecure servers… Getting the info in public is desirable if done safely. I’m not a fan of companies like this and I don’t mind dragging their names through the mud.”

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