From time to time, some of our visitors contact us concerned that someone may have install monitoring programs on their device without their consent or knowledge, and had been unsuccessful and finding useful information online. The reason for this, is because these programs are made to run in complete stealth, this protects the user in case the device is stolen or in the wrong hands. Sometimes, however, the concern is that someone might have installed spy software on a device you own, without your consent. This is often the case with marriage infidelity suspicions, causing one of the partners to secretly monitor the other’s cellphone or computer.
Nowadays, we literally have our whole lives on these tiny smartphones. What once use to be a simple device to call and eventually text people, has become a powerhouse pocket computer containing far more than just a few names, phone numbers and messages. You probably use email, social media, and various other online services including banking information, and all of these details can be monitored if the phone or tablet is being tracked. Our dependence on these new technologies also puts us at risk, and the need to know about this kind of software, and protect yourself from it, has become a real need for many of us. So how do you know if your phone is being spied on?
Most people have no idea these services even exist, how powerful they are, but more importantly how accessible it is for anyone to utilize them. It sounds like a James Bond movie, but these tools are no longer reserved for secret government espionage organizations, everyone at home can use them too. The various functions spy programs offer are enough to be extremely invasive on your privacy and should not be taken lightly. Understanding and knowing what monitoring services can do, is a good first step to being better capable of detecting them on your phone. Although the software is mostly undetectable, there are a few telltale signs to help us determine if there is probable cause to look further.
How to Find out If Your Phone Has Spy Apps on It
The hard question to answer remains whether or not your device is being tracked or hacked in any way, simply because of how they are designed to be completely invisible, undetectable and very stealthy while in operation. You won’t see an App icon for it and the better the service, the harder it is to detect. So, how do you do it? As we suggested, first take a look around at what features and capabilities these apps offer, once you have a basic understanding, you have to come to the realization that some of the best services out there would require an expert mobile technician or security advisor in order to really detect these using advanced forensic tools. But, not all is lost, as there are a few ways to try and at least get some kind of idea.
When your phone is being tracked, it will be automatically having to send data back and forward to provide all the logs, history, access and message copies back to the perpetrator controlling it behind closed doors. Some of the less dependable and cheap services out there can cause for out of the ordinary things to happen with your phone. Let’s quickly go over a list of suspect signs to watch out for.
Battery Drains Way Faster: If you start noticing that your battery charge is going down much faster on standby mode than ever before, that is a possible strong factor to keep an eye out for. Don’t forget that batteries slowly diminish with time and after a year, it certainly will not have the same capacity and performance, but if it changes from one day to another, especially when you are never utilizing it or turning on the screen, something is wrong. It could just be the battery or the fact that you installed too many apps! But, since spy apps can utilize the camera, microphone and have to often send data back, it could cause for fast battery draining.
Data Usage Increase: If you notice that your data usage is going up, yet you have been spending less time or no time online, this can be due to a few factors. Recently installed apps that stay running in the background, some other malware on your phone, or spy apps. Monitoring apps have to constantly report back, and older or cheaper services often use way more data than they should. If the person monitoring you is constantly using the video camera or microphone or downloading your data, it will likely be felt on your monthly data usage. This could be a tricky one, since it requires you to know how much data you regularly use over a basis of many months to really get a clear picture. There are plenty of apps available for Android, Apple and all other mobile platforms that help you manage and track your data usage, both on your data plan and Wi-Fi.
Unusual Signs: Depending on the service used by the perpetrator, it can be less effective at being stealthy. Some buggy apps can cause the phone to crash and stop responding, or shutting off even on full charge. Really bad ones will fail to conceal the flash or record light when using the camera, while in-use lights might come on if the microphone is activated. Anything out of the ordinary that becomes regular is enough to consider and look further, but don’t freak out, all of these fit the bill as being strictly technical problems with the device. These little things can vary but some of the main ones are:
- Device shuts Off/On by itself.
- Lights come on when device is idle.
- Constantly crashing.
- Device is making calls / sending texts on its own.
Cryptic Text Messages: Certain spy software allows the user to remote control the cellphone or tablet by sending in special text messages. Top quality software manages to effectively hide these messages and ensure the device never actually receives or alerts of them in the inbox, but the bad ones don’t. If you start regularly receiving SMS’s that don’t make sense and possibly contain series or random letters, numbers and/or symbols, it may be someone on the other end sending the phone remote commands.
Static Noise / Feedback on Calls: Once again, don’t freak out, as this is very common to happen on many calls, but if you constantly get feedback and static on many of your calls, at the least, your device needs some form of repair. Just a few years back, many monitoring programs would utilise conference call technology in order to eavesdrop on calls, but since the technology has advanced and only a few service providers still utilize that system. The downside is that it can cause echo and feedback, easily detected on calls. If you hear voices or beeps on a regular basis, you might want to consider checking it out.
Jailbroken iPhone: For Apple users, apps cannot be installed unless they are sold on the Apple Store, and therefore jailbreaking iDevices became common practice by many users, especially the techy ones. Ultimately, you jail break your iPhone in order to be able to install 3rd party apps and software that you would otherwise not be able to, or would have to pay for on the store. In order to install a tracking app on the iPhone or iPad, it has to be jailbroken, therefore if you discover your iPhone was, but you had nothing to do with it, that’s a red flag that someone around you could have done it, unless it was a pre-owned device, which in that case, it could have been done already.
There is an exception to this rule, with services from mSpy or Mobistealth, which allows for similar monitoring to be done on iDevices without jail breaking by using iCloud backups instead. They keep track of everything that iCloud can backup. It’s not as extensive, not nearly, and also has to be configured properly, but it’s an alternative none the less.
Rooted Android: Even though it’s not required to root your Android to install tracking software, it does not mean that many people don’t do it for that specific purpose. Some functions are limited to rooted Androids only. Sometimes, third party applications like WhatsApp, Skype and full keylogging (saves every key typed on keyboard of phone) can only be accessed, monitored and logged if the device is rooted. With that said, don’t completely dismiss verifying if your cell phone or android tablet has been rooted without your knowledge.
Rooting your Android provides a multitude of advantages, especially for the more techy or advanced users, so it can be that it was rooted for legitimate reasons, especially if you purchased the device from someone else, as oppose to new in box. Read on here for more information about rooting, the advantages of doing so, and the difference between this and Jailbreaking,
How to Detect If Your iPhone Has Been Jailbroken
There are a few common apps used after you jailbreak apple devices that can help you quickly detect if your iPhone may have been tampered with. These extra Apps are used to actually download all the free apps you want. Cydia is the most used of them all, but some alternatives exist, such as Infinity Installer, Cyder, and iNoCydia. If you see any of these application icons on your iPhone, iPad or even iPod and are certain you never had a friend jailbreak it for you, someone else must have. Very often, the person doing this will be tech-savvy enough to delete the icons, but if you quickly learn how to search in your directories, you should be able to find them. A great and easy tip, is to try using the search feature on the phone for “Cydia” or some of the alternatives, if the app icon has been hidden, but the app is still installed, it should come up in the results.
For any of these signs to represent a risk of spy apps being installed on your cell phone, it would require a combination of them starting to appear suddenly, one symptom alone would not be enough to raise any doubts. Once you have gone through this checklist, if you do have any suspicion, it’s time to pass to action and get rid of those unwanted programs. Read on to our guide on how to remove spy apps from your cellphone and how to better secure your cell phone from tracking software, to effectively get rid of unwanted espionage tools and/or secure your mobile device from future attacks.