Sunday, 14 June 2015 00:00

KakaoTalk Spy – Myth or Reality?

Update: Kakaotalk spy now exist, please read this article for more details.

Since its launch in 2010, Kakao Talk has become the instant most popular messaging app in South Korea and has continued to expand its user base at an exponential rate, with more than 140 million users worldwide. The app provides users with free voice and text messaging along with a number of other popular features. KakaoTalk has now been introduced in 230 countries and is available in 15 languages. 93 percent of South Korean smartphone users have installed KakaoTalk onto their devices. Indonesia has become the second largest market behind South Korea, with more than 13 million users.

Many Kakao alk users are now asking: “Is there a spy app commercially available that can monitor KakaoTalk?” Unfortunately, for those who would like to monitor their children or employees who use the app, the answer is no - at least for the moment.

For now, the only people with the capability to spy on KakaoTalk are the South Korean government and authorities in several other countries who have developed spyware capable of monitoring citizens through KakaoTalk  (more on this later in the article). KakaoTalk is compatible with Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Bada OS, Windows Phone, Nokia Asha devices, as well as personal computers.

However, there are at least a few companies currently considering developing a KakaoTalk spy app feature. Taking into account the app’s increasing popularity, it is undoubtedly only a matter of time before one of the major players in the industry, such as mSpy and FlexiSPY, introduces such a feature.

KakaoTalk Features

So what makes KakaoTalk such a popular app?

The answer lies in the clever services the app provides users beyond just the free text and voice messaging features. KakaoTalk users are able to share many types of content such as photos, videos, GPS location, URLs and contacts. A group chat feature is also available which allows an unlimited number of friends to participate.

kakaotalkThe app automatically synchronizes a user’s smartphone contact list with the KakaoTalk contact list, allowing the user to search for friends who use the service. It’s also possible to search friends through KakaoTalk ID without needing to know their phone number.

Since its beginnings as a messenger service, KakaoTalk has expanded into a platform which offers apps and other third party content, including several hundred games which can be played online with friends who are using the app.

A KakaoTalk feature called Plus Friend allows users to follow their favorite celebrities and brands, and also provides users with real-time info through the app’s chat rooms, including exclusive messages and coupons for various products.

There is also a Kakao Talk Gift Shop, with which users can purchase and send gifts online, including Starbucks products, watches, jewelry, perfume and other items.

Stickers and animated emoticons are also available, as well as a walkie-talkie feature.

International Expansion

The user base KakaoTalk has begun to reach well beyond South Korea, where it was introduced and has proven to be very a very useful platform for international communication beyond its “fun” features aimed at typical consumers.

After the devastating 2011 earthquake in Japan, when many of the traditional communication networks became disabled or disrupted to a certain degree, the usage of KakaoTalk soared as companies turned to the platform to communicate between offices and individuals used it to contact friends or relatives who were victims of the disaster.

In 2014, KakaoTalk merged with the established South Korean Internet company Daum, a move designed to give the company the monetization needed to expand its user base, particularly throughout Southeast Asia.

Recently, KakaoTalk acquired the US-based messenger app, Path, whose market share in the States has declined since its heyday as one of the top IM platforms in the country. Path, however, is still very popular in Southeast Asia. KakaoTalk, with its Daum merger and purchase of Path, is currently involved in mounting a major advertising campaign to expand throughout Southeast Asia.

Government Spy Programs Using KakaoTalk

Although there is no commercially available KakaoTalk spy software available yet, the South Korean government has used a spyware program that allows it to track and monitor its citizens through the app.

Following the Sewol Ferry disaster, when the Korean government became concerned about libelous statements being circulated on social networking platforms, and subsequently announced a “zero-tolerance” policy in which it pursued offenders through spying through IM apps, including KakaoTalk.

Also, it has been reported that Tibetan authorities used a spyware-infected version of Kakao Talk to spy on activists.

A Golden Opportunity for Spy App Makers?

I find it rather surprising that none of the major phone spy apps, such as FlexiSPY and mSpy, have not yet introduced a KakaoTalk spy feature. As I mentioned above, it would seem that it is a matter of time before such a features is developed, considering the continued expansion of the KakaoTalk user base internationally.

Since apps such as KakaoTalk are extremely popular among young people, such a feature would likely be attractive to parents who wish to monitor their children, a demographic that accounts for a sizable portion of spy app users world-wide.

Parents worldwide have begun to rely on mobile monitoring systems to keep an eye on their children, in their efforts to protect them from online bullying, sexual predators, bad influences among their peers, and other online threats, as well as just making sure their kids aren’t spending too much time online, playing games and chatting with friends.

As much as people may not care for the idea of snooping with spy apps, this is one of the truly legitimate uses of such apps.

Any company that begins offering such a feature will undoubtedly be able to cash in on a huge potential market, so I believe it won’t be long before a KakaoTalk becomes available.

Already, the leading spy app makers offer monitoring features for most of the popular social networking, IM and chat platforms including:

Facebook / Facebook Messenger
Blackberry PIN
Yahoo Messenger

So, if you’re a concerned parent who would like to monitor a child’s KakaoTalk activity, or an employer who wants to limit non-essential Internet usage on a company device, it shouldn’t be too long before someone develops and markets a KakaoTalk Spy feature.

Last modified on Sunday, 02 October 2016 05:36