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Android Spyware Apps: How Dangerous Are They?

by on July 18, 2013
in Privacy, Phones and Mobile, Mobile Apps, Android Apps, Guides & Reviews

Mobile spyware has been reported numerous times in the media as a serious threat for phone users. When we first covered the spyware issue back in March, 2012, we were shocked by the volume of comments we received from readers who suspected they were the victims of spyware. And, some of the claims they were making about how much information the alleged spy was able to capture seemed a little far fetched.

But the comments kept coming in from women (yes, women seem to be the primary victims) whose lives are being turned upside down by a controlling spouse, boyfriend or ex who seems to know their every move.

So we started to take a deeper look at the issue and what we found is very disturbing. Spyware programs are very real, easily available and far more intrusive than we expected would be possible.

Worse, spyware threats are also highly pervasive—according to security company Lookout, .24% of Android phones they scanned in the U.S. had surveillance-ware installed intended to target a specific individual. Sophos reports a similar .2% infection rate from spyware. If those numbers hold true for Android users in general, that would mean tens of thousands are infected by spyware. And this isn't just an Android issue, iOS and BlackBerry devices can be easily infected as well. Yet, mobile security vendors are currently doing a poor job at spyware detection.

I tested three of the most common spyware apps—Mobile Spy, Mobile Stealth & Phone Control—in detail to find if each could do everything it claimed. The results were eye-opening. While features varies somewhat between the three, each could easily be installed on my Nexus 4 running Android 4.2 and capture significant amounts of highly personal information; including allowing a spy to remotely track your location, monitor your text messages, listen to your calls, see every photo and video you shoot, turn on your phone's microphone to monitor its surroundings and take pictures with your phone's camera.  

Mobistealth dashboard

Meanwhile, the app remains hidden in the background, given you no warning that something may be amiss.

Mobile Spy

At $100 per year (or $50 for three months), Mobile Spy isn't cheap, but it provides a robust set of monitoring capabilities and allows the snooper to access the details through a simple-to-use web interface. For an extra $50 a year, Mobile Spy adds the ability to remotely record the audio using the phone's microphone and capture pictures with the phone's camera.

Mobile Spy also works with iOS (requires jailbreaking), BlackBerry (v7 and below) and Symbian, and multiple devices can be monitored from the same web interface. Once installed, the app remains hidden from the user, only appearing as "SIM Toolkit" in the list of running apps within Android Settings.


Mobistealth is very similar to Mobile Spy, but offers one important feature—the ability to record live phone conversations. While almost certainly illegal in many jurisdictions without both parties' consent, recording call audio provides a much more complete profile on the person you are monitoring. You pay for this added functionality, though. A one year subscription to Mobistealth is $199.

Mobistealth also works with iOS (requires jailbreaking), BlackBerry (v7 and below) and Symbian, and multiple devices can be monitored from the same web interface. Once installed, Mobistealth remains hidden from the user, showing "Lookout Secure" in the running app list.

Phone Control

If you're looking for an app that provides a robust set of features at a bargain basement price (one-time fee of 1.99 Euros), Phone Control is a great choice. Formerly available through Google Play (before getting kicked off), Phone Control gives you all the tools you need to monitor your target, including recording of live calls. What you don't get is the slick web interface—tracking data is delivered to you via email—and some features that require manual initiation.

Not having a web interface makes managing the device more difficult, but offers a potential privacy advantage. With the other spyware apps, your target's content is sent and stored on the company's servers where, potentially, others could access it. With Phone Control, information is sent from the phone using an email address you set up on the device, so the data is never transmitted to a third-party (other than your email host).

Installation is a more involved process than with the other apps, requiring downloading and installing two apps, one which the developer will send you after you pay through Paypal. We've also been notified by the developer that he will no longer be supporting the app, so it's not clear how much longer it will be available.

Phone control is only available for Android. Once installed, Phone Control remains hidden from the user, showing "Android Manager" in the running apps.

Comparison of monitoring features

Features (Android)  Mobile Spy   Mobistealth  Phone Control
Record surroundings      
Record audio
Capture photo
Text message monitoring
Call tracking      
List call details
Record phone calls
Track web history Manual
View photos & videos
GPS tracking      
Monitor phone contacts Manual
Monitor calendar Manual
Hide on install
Web interface
Supported OS Android, iOS, BB Android, iOS, BB Android



Discussion loading


I was hacked

From Marlon on September 11, 2013 :: 12:32 am

I have a so called friend his name is mike he has a app that he uses to spy on people and he won’t stop hacking me what can I do he even uses it to have sex with people and is steeling people’s profile to take over thair bank and his girl friend he’s hiding out has over 20 worrents for steeling people’s money I don’t no how to spell his last name but its mike diteze I do have his address if you find to be nesasairy to have thank you




From BONNIE DUNCAN on June 28, 2016 :: 5:31 pm




My galaxy7active I told was a new phone replacing my lgv10 after after3 referbished with issues

From Ginny on October 02, 2017 :: 1:08 pm

I was hacked my medical chart and more google spam mail i didnt open it at all alot of sex I seen my first and last name my doggies name now my personal texts and contacts calls being recorded on my privacy how do I stop. It! I’m getting no webs. Always reloads itself in real yes scary but my account I froze! I’m getting weird phone calls ive blocked alot my phone provider AT&T say sorry unfortunately stopped! I’m having serious private issues alot sharing to public i dont want public unknown! I believe. In my privacy getting worse i know how alot feel this is my galaxy7active! What do we do?



Address please

From A.B. on January 01, 2017 :: 6:49 am

What is Mikes address please??



Address please

From A.B. on January 01, 2017 :: 6:52 am

What is Mikes address please?



Seriously obessed

From Unsafe on April 25, 2017 :: 4:12 am

I’ve been having problem for like 2 months my so called boyfriend hacks everything changed my number 5 times got a new phone I’ve done everything how in the hell he keeps doing this? I deleted my Facebook any soical media but my emails change or disappear. I’ve talked to police, T-Mobile, Google, Samsung. He’s literally breaking me down mental going on my 4th bank card this month. How do I stop him? Hopefully he didn’t compromised this address as well. I know it’s him he’s so paranoid.HELP PLEASE!!!



You're missing the real issue

From Josh Kirschner on April 25, 2017 :: 9:30 am

It’s a little hard to analyze your tech issues without more information, but there’s no way for someone to get into all of your accounts unless he/she has your username/password or you keep your devices unlocked.

But the real issue here isn’t your tech - it’s your boyfriend. Assuming he is behind this hacking, and it’s gotten to the point where you’re actually going to the police, why in God’s name is he still your boyfriend? Move on. Now. Completely. And your tech issues (along with probably a thousand other issues you’re likely enduring) will go away.




From Miss angry on October 10, 2017 :: 7:15 pm

Yeah ok,I am so sick and tired of everyone claiming how safe the iPhone is!!! Bullshit!!! If you’re significant other is or knows someone who is a geek or computer nerd you’re all done !!! This person will have access to your messages who you call everyone you speak with soon you will have no privacy..When you walk into a store for help they look at you like you have 2 heads because they can’t figure it out they don’t know there not hackers why would they know!!! I’m going on my 7th iPhone since I have been with him whatever!!! All my settings are Jamed on my iPhone !!! Just bought it yesterday!!! Throwing it out the window tomorrow!!!


what to do.

From BC Groves on November 28, 2017 :: 12:09 pm

I’ve done everythin you have done, including write to the govermor of Texas, but no one in law enforcement will even take a report, therefore limiting my ability to press charges (Denton, Tx).
The only thing left is to burn his house down.


Being hacked by Ex Husband w/ rooting, spyware the works!

From Sheila Irvin on September 23, 2015 :: 4:06 pm

Thank you to com posted and his crew does he has well Joseph Turner the information was from technician. Tip spying on iPhone I just had to go through every location for a serious the mess to go since that was done at me from my ex husband anyhow I have done everything to be a I wanted all that but I just found out 4 days ago that I was missing some things for my phone and realize that once looking into it that he has done some reading on their taken quite a bit of stuff had a bunch of things that he was doing whatever but I found like 25 different things that he put on this phone I’ve been searching the internet try and libraries trying to find out how to clear up this mess I do know that he put a third party and a remote on a car my phone I shut that down I also know that he has foot the tracking and all these things but I have three phones in the ass mess with a kyocera 4G Icarus Sierra 4G hydro extra trim and then a restroom and then also my active what is a 5.0 so if you could get back to me and let me know exactly what I am learning but there’s a lot to do thank you so much bye PS he also has the movie lot of things and obviously stored them on the data is there with a lot of stuff but my CD o is saying 0 so I know thats thats means he stored it I do have a CD chick that was in his phone which I have as well she’s federal court of it is there a man I’m I waste your time telling you cuz if you can tell there’s a lot


Sorry talk to test really

From Sheila Irvin on September 23, 2015 :: 4:28 pm

Sorry talk to test really sucks. Glad I didn’t tell you all 3 pgs. Back to back of what I have found and need to fix. And it’s not my car its my phones. 3 in totally Kyocera 4G, Kyocera 4G Hydro xtrim and a Alcatel One touch 5.0 mp.  He has disabled my systems so having a re hard time figuring this out. I’m so willing to send the phones to you. And heck yah if your still doing your book, project on this Spying and the damage I’m game. He has put a spy camera, voice recording, Cerberus:D even was smart enough to change the default passwords. Mr. I need your help more than Rocky Road ice cream when I’m crying. Not savvy but learning. I did an app to get an idea what was in the phones 125 things. What the heck! I’ll be old, shoot I’m 49. I did get GS file Explore and task trying to make my way, that’s how I’ve been able to see some of the junk he has done. Started according to the dates a year ago. Wow!
Will be sitting here waiting with bells on and a plate of Sugar cookies! Have a blessed day! Thanks again Sheila smile))))



ny girlfreind..

From rikki scott on September 25, 2015 :: 7:01 am

says she feels shes being spyd on and thinks its me! how can i convince her its NOT and find the real culprits? who are slowly splitting us up.i think they are trying to rob her and im seriously concerned



help, I think

From sarah on January 31, 2017 :: 8:08 pm

I guess I am an idiot, but for some time I have heard comments about what I wear, and also when I used to leave the house things would disappear and I don’t want to sound paranoid, and that’s probably why I have never said anything, but now I’ve lost almost everything- nio joke. The last comment I heard, and I’m a 40 year old woman, was that ” I guess you like to walk around naked”. I live alone, and I am now moving because of some of this stuff. I had more thyan 5 computers taken, all my phones, and the one I’m using isn’t mine- I have had it. I don’t know what to do,
Please and thank you,
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)



Please help I need answers I have found all of these weird things my husband has been doing on my ph

From Jasmina Kellu on July 11, 2017 :: 1:26 pm

I have a problem because every time I try to open a website that’s important it said Safari cannot open the page because the server cannot be found. It almost always does that and I have no idea why. My husband and me are on the verge of divorce and I have found all these weird files on the phone one of them was a code and it said hello world and it was a coding file and it was happening on both phones and then I also discovered one time that he had a different forwarding number on his phone and when I called his regular number he could answer it but when i actuallly discovered it and took it off it said his phone was no longer in service?? Why would he have a different forwarding number and why was his regular number not working anymore when I discovered it and took it off the phone?? I don’t understand I read that that’s how they can listen to your conversations and my phone was acting weird too I voildnt open any websites either and it was freezing all the time and when I would talk on it I could barely hear the other person on the other end. And it just started happening my phone was fine before. And on his phone iOS iPhone when you go under regulatory it’s not like on a normal IPhone it doesn’t stop at Europe it goes on to Japan ,Australia/New Zeland,Singapore, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Malasysia, Taiwan,Brazil, Columbia, South Africa,Costa Rica, Argentina, Samoa, Philippines?  And every one of them has a company name and a number or a code. Which is weird I never have seen it on any other iPhone! Also I have been on his phone and seen that he was under a ICANN WHOIS ORGANIZATION. And he had a different domain name for an up adrenaline for third party’s. I just want to know what the bell is going on. I finally purchased a new iPhone locked it and it works fine I can go to all of the websites and it’s completely different. Can someone please help and tell me if he bigger my phone and his mom went to Cupertino Ca idk why I’m guessing because she wanted phone information because he and her were trying to take my children away from me because his mother lives in another state and the kids are with me and him in ny and she is in Oklahoma and she was threatening me that she was going to buy a house here and have her son and my kids love w her and also she said I’m doing this online thing I just started and she also said I’m looking into adopting children with bad mothers. And I’m definitely not a bad mom and told her that and said I wish her all the best and I said I didn’t know your son was unhappy but I guess you turned him against me my own husband and I said that’s fine but I just want to let you know as far as my kids go you will never ever get them! Ever since then all this phone stuff was happening and she even went to California and I went online and she can file adoption papers there for any state so I’m worried that’s where she went. Does anyone know what the ICANN WHOIS ORGANIZATION IS AND WHY SHE HOT A FOMAIN NAME AND HAD HER OWN WEBSITE? Was it to monitor me?? Anyways I’m scared can anyone shed some light on this??




From Jamie on July 16, 2017 :: 3:50 pm

My boyfriend some how knows where i am what im doing who im talking to and what was said i will be some where and he shows up he 24/7 im mentally drained i have qent to sprint got a new phone tried to leave him but he always find me or has heard my plan to leave! Im trying to go to a safe haven place but he will just find me! I have 2 kids and want out but i cant bc he always finds me!!!!! I cant stop thinking about this nor stop researching it!!! I just want it to all end but i do not know how!plz plz plz i need to know how this is being done and how to stop it so i can get out of this abusive relationship and go to the safe haven!



Domestic shelters (Battered Women Shelters)

From Ryan on September 25, 2017 :: 8:00 pm

You should google Battered Women Shelters, and see what’s in your area. They are well versed in dealing with this type of thing. I know we ended up in one for a few days when I was a kid. It wasn’t a bad place. They will help you in major ways. Not sure what state you’re in. I’m sure here in Los Angeles, you would be hard pressed to find one that would be caucasian friendly. But you never know.

Worth looking into.



My phone is being hacked remotely?

From Kay on August 21, 2017 :: 3:34 pm

I broke up with my bf, and now my phone has changed the Facebook notification sound without me doing it, twice. I need to know if someone is getting into my phone or not.



Seems unlikely...

From Josh Kirschner on August 22, 2017 :: 12:56 pm

You don’t say whether you’re using iOS or Android, but I’m not familiar with any spyware that allows you to remotely change notification sounds. If you’re concerned about spyware, we have an articles that details how to protect yourself here:


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