Could Someone Be Spying on Your Smartphone?

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Could Someone Be Spying on Your Smartphone?

smartphone_spyingAccording to the PEW Research Center, 64 percent of American adults own a smartphone. Alongside this increase in smartphone ownership, there’s also been an uptick in the use of spyware apps and programs for smartphones. These applications are designed to give users access to private information on smartphones of all kinds, be it an iPhone, Android or Windows device.

People use spyware apps for the same reasons anyone spies on another person in the first place. They want access to someone’s private life. However, spying on someone’s smartphone offers more than insight into their behavior, comings, and goings. It can also be used to:

  • Access private messages, emails and other forms of online communication
  • Hack into bank and financial information
  • Follow GPS history and determine the user’s location
  • Retrieve and store personal data
  • Access enterprise network data from devices used at places of work

Regardless of the intention and purpose, the act is still illegal. However, these apps are developed to be as undetectable as possible and typically run invisibly on the device after being activated. They may also run under seemingly benign names in your device’s system.

Spyware abuse is used to stalk, threaten and otherwise torment victims through technology. This growing trend requires vigilance. The following signs may point to spyware usage and even abuse on your smartphone:

  • Phone suddenly becoming hard to turn on or shut down
  • Decreased battery life
  • Increased data usage (from unknown applications running in the background)
  • Random lights, beeps, and other noises
  • Background noise while making phone calls (could signal recording of phone calls)
  • Receiving strange text messages with symbols
  • Any other sense that something with your phone is “off”

As spyware apps tend to be buggy, they typically give themselves away by causing the phone to behave oddly. However, keep in mind that older phones will begin to lose battery life and may not function as well as they did before. Still, it’s worth checking out the situation for your privacy and safety if you feel concerned or suspicious.

What to Do If You’ve Been Spied On

Realizing that someone is watching your every move through your smartphone is a frightening and disturbing experience. Not only is your personal data in malicious hands, but your privacy and sense of security have also been compromised. Thankfully, there are things you can do prevent further spying and bring the spy to justice.

Start by backing up your data or syncing your important information to the cloud. Next, perform a factory reset. This operation will wipe your data clean so wait until you are positive your data is saved elsewhere.

After resetting your phone, put a passcode into place if you have not already. If you already have a passcode, you’ll need to update it and make it harder to guess. Because spyware apps typically require physical access to the smartphone for activation, a strong passcode is the first defense. Avoid using your birthday, favorite numbers, social security digits or any combination of numbers that are easy to guess. (That means 1234 is not going to work.)

iPhone users may want to download Lookout Security for added protection. Android users should make sure the USB Debugging mode is off and stays off. If it’s been activated, you’ll need to turn it off and then perform a factory reset.

Webroot Secure Anywhere is a good choice for Android users. The options are slimmer for Windows phone owners but using a security app like Best Phone Security or Keeper after resetting the phone is highly recommended.

For smartphone users who bring their own devices to work, it is important to comply with your employer’s BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy. Spyware can access and harm your company’s data through your personal smartphone.

Be sure to limit the number of people you allow to use your phone.  Don’t forget to change regularly your passcode.

Finally, avoid contacting the person you believe may be responsible for downloading spyware on your phone. In cases of spyware abuse, this may result in retaliation and revenge. Instead, contact the police and maintain as much distance as possible from the person responsible.

Cyber investigators can help you find the origin of spyware applications. Contact our team at Prudential Associates for the technical expertise and professionalism you deserve. We’ll be happy to provide you with a free case evaluation and discuss the best way to move forward.