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TheTruthSpy stalkerware, still insecure, still leaking data

In 2022, we published an article about how photographs of children taken by a stalkerware-type app were found exposed on the internet because of poor cybersecurity practices by the app vendor.

The stalkerware-type app involved, TheTruthSpy, has shown once again that the way in which it handles captured data shows no respect to its customers. And even less for the victims it’s monitoring.

TheTruthSpy markets itself as a tool that can be placed in the hands of employers who want to keep tabs on employees in the workplace, or in the hands of parents who want to look after their kids. But it can just as easily be placed in the hands of stalkers, abusive partners, or someone who just wants to get a leg up in their divorce proceedings.

Stalkerware-type applications like TheTruthSpy typically get installed secretly, by a person with access to the victim’s phone. For that reason, by design, the apps stay hidden from the device owner, while giving the attacker complete access.

Boasting “more than 15 spying features,” it can track a target’s location; reveal their browser history; record their calls; read their SMS messages; spy on their WhatsApp, Facebook, SnapChat and Viber messages; log what they type; and record what they say.

That alone is bad enough, but the app seems to have a persistent problem with security. In 2022, tech publication TechCrunch discovered that TheTruthSpy and other spyware apps share a common Insecure Direct Object Reference (IDOR) vulnerability, CVE-2022-0732. The publications described the bug as “extremely easy to exploit, and grants unfettered remote access to all of the data collected from a victim’s Android device.”

The bug was never fixed, and yesterday, stalkerware researcher maia arson crimew, revealed that it was stumbled upon again by two different hacking groups.

When members of the two hacking groups looked into TruthSpy last december while searching for stalkerware to hack, they independently stumbled upon the same IDOR vulnerability

The good news is that both groups, SiegedSec and ByteMeCrew, said in a Telegram post that they are not publicly releasing the breached data, given its highly sensitive nature. They provided enough data to enable TechCrunch to verify that it is authentic though, by matching IMEI numbers (numbers that uniquely identify phones) and advertising IDs against a list of previous known-to-be compromised devices.

Which means that by installing TheTruthSpy—and a whole fleet of clone apps including Copy9, MxSpy, iSpyoo, SecondClone, TheSpyApp, ExactSpy, FoneTracker and GuestSpy—you are not just spying on someone, you are also potentially exposing their data for anyone to find.

The data reportedly shows that TheTruthSpy continues to actively spy on large clusters of victims across Europe, India, Indonesia, the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

Sadly, this is no surprise. According to 2023 research from Malwarebytes, 62 percent of people in the United States and Canada admitted to monitoring their romantic partners online in one form or another, from looking through a spouse’s or significant other’s text messages, to tracking their location, to rifling through their search history, to even installing monitoring software onto their devices.

Removing stalkerware

If you want to know if your phone is or was infected with TheTruthSpy, you can use the lookup tool provided by TechCrunch, which has been updated to include information about the most recent leak.

Malwarebytes, as one of the founding members of the Coalition Against Stalkerware, makes it a priority to detect and remove stalkerware-type apps from your device. It is good to keep in mind however that by removing the stalkerware-type app you will alert the person spying on you that you know the app is there.

Because the apps install under a different name and hide themselves from the user, it can be hard to find and remove them. That is where Malwarebytes for Android can help you.

  1. Open Malwarebytes for Android.
  2. Open the app’s dashboard
  3. Tap Scan now
  4. It may take a few minutes to scan your device.

 If malware is detected you can act on it in the following ways:

  • Uninstall. The threat will be deleted from your device.
  • Ignore Always. The file detection will be added to the Allow List, and excluded from future scans. Legitimate files are sometimes detected as malware. We recommend reviewing scan results and adding files to Ignore Always that you know are safe and want to keep.
  • Ignore Once: A file has been detected as a threat, but you are not sure whether to add it to your Allow List or delete. This option will ignore the detection this time only. It will be detected as malware on your next scan.

We don’t just report on phone security—we provide it

Cybersecurity risks should never spread beyond a headline. Keep threats off your mobile devices by downloading Malwarebytes for iOS, and Malwarebytes for Android today.


Pieter Arntz

Malware Intelligence Researcher

Was a Microsoft MVP in consumer security for 12 years running. Can speak four languages. Smells of rich mahogany and leather-bound books.