Councillor found guilty in spyware case

A councillor from Greenville County, South Carolina, who was convicted this week of spying on fellow council workers’ PCs, could face up to 16 years in jail.

Tony Trout was arrested last October, after infecting PCs with the RemoteSpy program, which allowed him to break into two Yahoo email accounts used by Greenvile County Administrator Joe Kernell.

According to media reports, information stolen by Trout from the compromised email accounts on his website at, and shared the information with other councillors and legal officials.

In his defence, Trout claimed that he was investigating Kernell as a service to the taxpaying public, believing he could be involved in illegal activity.

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However, in my opinion it’s hard to understand why – if he believed a crime was being committed – he did not report it to the police rather than taking the law into his own hands.


RemoteSpy, the program used by Tony Trout to spy upon his fellow council workers, is no stranger to regular readers of this blog of course. Late last year, we described how the FTC had tried to prevent the controversial program from being sold.

It’s probably worth everyone remembering that just because a program may be legal to purchase, it doesn’t necessarily make it legal to use in all cases. Foolishness, like that shown by Tony Trout, could easily result in a painful punishment.

Trout is scheduled to be sentenced in the next sixty days.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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