Is this the world’s first spyware for tablets?

April 19, 2012
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PeekTab, for both Android tablets and the iPad, is designed to let parents and employers monitor how tablets are being used without the user of the tablet knowing. 

The company says PeekTab secretly collects a record of tablet activities and sends it via the Internet to a secure online control panel that organizes and displays the information. The PeekTab owner or administrator can view the control panel to check on employees or, in the case of a family, kids. PeekTab is the latest in a range of monitoring software and services Retina-X offers. 

It's not unusual for companies to monitor Internet activity and some prohibit access to certain sites such as porn, or even in some cases, social media sites. Sometimes these programs simply monitor and alert managers or the employees when they are Web surfing to unapproved sites. In some states it may be illegal to install software like PeekTab without first notifying employees. 

Similarly, there are scores of monitoring and filtering programs designed for families to check on their kid's Internet activities that can also block access to adult sites and other designated websites. Retina-X notes that its GPS location feature also gives families the ability to know where their kids are, assuming they've taken the tablet with them. 

PeekTab's publisher says the program is comprehensive.

"Like computers and smartphones, tablets are also Internet devices with potential for Internet abuse," says Retina-X Studios CEO James Johns. "Customers will be able to see web history, GPS locations, photos, text messages, emails and apps installed. PeekTab reveals the entire truth." 

The iPad version records all details of email messages sent and received, including the subject, email address, date/time stamp, and full text. It also logs all sticky notes created, with full text and date/time stamp.

Retina-X says PeekTab has several benefits for employers. "By knowing the truth about employee tablet usage they will be able to control efficiency and learn if confidential company information is sent from the tablets," the firm said. 

Jailbreak needed

PeekTab is not available at app stores, but can be downloaded at the company's website. Since it's not available at Apple's App Store and requires stealth installation (assuming you aren't going to inform the user it's running), PeekTab requires the iPad be jailbroken to run. PeekTab says the jailbreaking "is an easy free process and is completely reversible."

But security experts warn against jailbreaking iOS devices and Apple says doing so voids the owner's warranty. Jailbreaking gives users access to the operating system and the ability to download software not available via Apple's App Store. 

PeekTab costs $29.97 per quarter including toll-free and online support.  A version for the BlackBerry PlayBook will be released "soon" the company said.  

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