There are a few signs that may help you find out if your cell phone has spy software installed and that it is being tracked, tapped or monitored in some way. Quite often these signs can be quite subtle but when you know what to look out for, you can sometimes find out if your cell phone is being spied on.
This article series will deal with How to Find installed Spy Phone Software and then How to Remove Spy Software followed by How to Secure your Cell Phone. This guide should help for all types of Smartphone including Android and for the iPhone there are a few extra tips.
It seems that almost everyone is obsessed with cell phones, from young kids’ right through to the elderly. Babies seem to be the only ones missing out so far! In the early days, cell phone security wasn’t a major issue. Cell phones were exactly that -Phones!
I know that it might seem strange to younger readers, but back in the day, cell phones were only used to make phone calls (often quite unreliably). Of course today with modern smart phones we can do all sorts – browsing the Internet, chatting on Facebook, online banking and sending e-mails, just to name a few.
More and more of our personal information is being transmitted through our phones and most people do not realize just how easy it is for other people to get hold of this information.
Is Your Mobile Phone Being Monitored?
Although I have been working with cell phone spy software for several years it never ceases to amaze me just how few people understand what it can do and how easily accessible it is. Most people are shocked at the capabilities of a relatively inexpensive piece of spy software that anyone can buy – legally. Get familiar with these spy apps and what they are capable of – check out a few of the reviews on this site – mSpy review, FlexiSpy or MobileSpy. Knowing what you are up against is a good first step.
I think anyone would be shocked to find spy software on their mobile phone and would be angry at the invasion of privacy, but for some people the consequences could be much more serious. Business users are particularly at risk but anyone can become a target of spy software. Just think for a moment about the information stored on or passing through your phone on a daily basis. Should you be worried? The good news is that sometimes it is possible to spot spy software apps.
Detecting Cell Phone Spy Software
I will go through a few of the tell-tale signs that could let you know if your cell phone has spy software installed. Some of these indicators can be caused by other things so you need to use your judgment. Some spy programs work very well and can only be detected by expert analysis but if your phone has several of the following signs you may have cause for concern.
Odd Phone Behavior – look for any changes in your cell phones behavior. Does it suddenly light up when not in use; make random beeping noises, shutdown by itself or exhibit any other random behavior? All phones can do strange things from time to time but if this is happening on a regular basis it could be a sign that your phone is being accessed by hidden software.
Battery Rundown – some spy software apps can increase the use of your battery so look out for any sudden changes in your battery life – does it need charging more often. Bear in mind that over time your cell phone battery life will diminish naturally, so you’re looking for any dramatic change. Some of the cheaper spy software programs will run your battery down quickly, however the more modern programs are designed to make less demand on the battery and are harder to spot.
Phone Shuts down – does your phone regularly shut down by itself, even when the battery is charged? Some spy software can be quite buggy and is known to cause this.
Background Noise – don’t get paranoid with this one is quite often this easily explained as a bad connection. If it is happening more than normal it could be another tell-tale sign. Look out for static, clicking, beeping or voices in the background. Some call listening and recording features can cause this background noise as they access your phone like a conference call.
Receiving Unusual Texts – are you receiving strange text messages containing random numbers, symbols or characters? The remote control feature of spy software works by sending secret coded text messages to your phone and in some cases these can be seen – if the software is not working correctly. If this happens regularly you could have a spy app on your phone.
Increased data Usage – have you noticed an increase in your normal data usage? Some of the less reliable Spy apps use extra data to send the information collected from your phone, so look out for any unexplained increase in your monthly data usage. There are several apps that can be used to monitor your data usage check out: My Data Manager – Android from Goggle Play and Data Usage – for iPhone available from the Apple Store. Again, with the best spy software programs data usage has been reduced and will be almost impossible to spot – but the poor programs will show significant data use.
With all the above you are looking for sudden changes in your phones behavior that cannot be explained. Each of these on their own is not necessarily evidence of spy phone software, but if your phone shows signs of several of these, you could be a victim of spying.
How to Check for Spy Software on an iPhone
For any software not supplied through Apple – including all spy software – the iPhone needs to be Jailbroken. If you find out your iPhone is jailbroken and you did not do it then you should be concerned. To find out if your phone has a Jailbreak look for the Installer app on your home screen. Other app names include Cydia and Icy – if any of these show up, your iPhone has been Jailbroken.
Sometimes the spy might be clever enough to hide the Installer app from the home screen menu but if you look around it should be possible to find it. You could also check all your software apps to see if they are listed in the Apple store – if they are not available from Apple then your phone has a Jailbreak.
Looking deeper inside the iPhone directories is more difficult than with Android but there is an easy way to remove spy software (and the Jailbreak) from the iPhone. Simply upgrade to the latest OS version via iTunes – this will remove the Jailbreak and any external software not from Apple, just be sure to back up any important data on your phone before you do this.
Advanced Steps – Check Your Phone’s Directories
If you are a little more technically minded you could look around inside your phones directory files for any clues. This step is normally beyond most people’s comfort zone but if you’re comfortable look through the folders for any giveaway file names containing the words spy or stealth – anything suspicious. Quite often there can be an installer file left behind on the SD card – if you know where to look.
I read an interesting article about this on Forbes, where they had an expert trying to find some of the popular spy phone software applications. He talked about how easy it was to find evidence of these spy apps by looking in the phone directories. But he was an expert! How many people do you know who are comfortable looking around inside the software of a phone, let alone know which files to look for?
In my experience most people do not find spy software in this way. They need to be suspicious in the first place and if they are suspicious they will usually have detected some of the odd behaviors mentioned above. Remember that most targets of spy software aren’t even aware that this kind of software exists or that someone would want to monitor them.
I hope this has been of some help but remember that this kind of technology is always evolving and is becoming increasingly difficult to spot. If you think you are at risk of being monitored you should take steps to secure your phone and prevent the installation of spy software in the first place. Just being aware that spy software exists and knowing what it can do is a good start!
Need to know more about cell phone spy software and what it can do? Start with the articles in the top right box of this site or read Different Types of Spy Phone. You should also check out my article about Monitoring Your Childrens Cell Phones – it was inspired by a great comment left by a concerned parent looking at the ethics of using spy software to monitor kids.