High-Tech Tools for Catching a Cheater

Spy programs monitor activity on computers, smart phones.

Nov. 22, 2010— -- Attention cheaters, those high-tech toys you think are so trustworthy can turn against you in seconds.

According to the entertainment website Radar Online, basketball player Tony Parker thought his alleged infidelities were safe in an "electronic program that only he could access." Until, that is, he forgot to close the program and his wife (soon-to-be-ex), actress Eva Longoria, took a look inside.

But even if you're careful about closing encrypted or hidden computer files or using smart phone applications that claim to permanently erase potentially incriminating text messages, your digital indiscretions can be easily found out.

"If someone wants your data, they're going to get your data," said Todd Morris, CEO of Brickhouse Security, an online retailer of security and surveillance products. "The only way to keep a secret is to keep it in your mind."

It's unknown exactly what kind of "electronic program" Parker used to lock away his private information, but Morris said it could have been an encrypted file vault, which is a password-protected hidden folder that works almost like a second hard drive on a computer.

Other tech-savvy cheaters might reach for programs that delete mobile communication stored on smart phones.

Cheap, Easy Programs Monitor Digital Behavior

When the iPhone application TigerText launched earlier this year, the Huffington Post hailed it as an iPhone app that "Helps Cheating Spouses Get Away With It."

But neither approach is foolproof. Morris said a whole suite of products for personal computers and smart phones make it relatively cheap and easy to monitor everything a person does electronically.

The Stealth iBot, for example, he said, is a spying tool that plugs into a computer's USB port and quickly installs a program that silently records all activity on that computer.

The $129 USB drive deploys data minding technology that can monitor websites visited, keystrokes made and it can take thousands of screenshots, so that you can see everything happening on the bugged computer from your own computer.

GPS Trackers Reveal Patterns of Cheating Spouses, Surveillance Retailer Says

If it's smart phone monitoring you're interested in, the iPhone Spy Stick connects an iPhone to your PC to recover any historical, or deleted, data.

For $199, it lets you see any text messages exchanged or phone calls made from the phone. It also gives access to map history, pictures, video, calendar items, notes and more.

The $169 Cell Phone Recon is a similar monitoring tool for BlackBerrys and Android phones. And the $199.95 Cell Phone Spy Elite helps read Sim card information from regular, non-smart phone cell phones.

GPS trackers provide another way to check up on a potentially wandering partner.

Morris said the $199 Spark Nano Real-Time GPS Tracking Device is a popular option. The 3-inch gadget can be easily hidden in a car and broadcasts its location to a system that can be easily accessed through the Web.

Parents purchase the tools to keep an eye on connected teens, he said, but jealous spouses make up a good chunk of the market. (Every year around Valentine's Day, in particular, he said, sales in surveillance technology spikes.)

"It's staggering how much it's growing," Morris said.

Jeffrey Jurist, owner of surveillance products retailer SpyAssociates.com, likes to say that "greed, lust and fear are three high-growth industries."

Even at $497.50 a pop, the Spy Matrix Pro is a popular GPS tracker for people who worry that their spouses are cheating. The device attaches to a car and gives very specific real-time information about its location.

"This is absolutely if someone thinks they're spouse is cheating. There are patterns that the cheating spouse will make and the GPS will tell exactly what's going on," he said.