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Is Someone Spying on Your Phone?

by on March 30, 2012
in Phones and Mobile, Cell Phones, Tips & How-Tos, Privacy :: 789 comments

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[Editor's note 2/9/17: Since this article was written five years ago, many new phone hacking methods have been developed and/or discovered. We've created a new article to cover those various hacks in our new story: How to Tell if Your Phone Has Been Hacked. Please go there for the latest information. We're keeping this story active for the issues and useful advice contained in the comments.]

You probably know there are plenty of apps you can install on your smartphone to track its location in case it gets lost or stolen. Apple's “Find My iPhone” is one good one and many security apps, such as AVG Mobilation, can track down a phone in seconds.

But what if someone else is tracking you? Is there any chance your boss or spouse could be spying on everything you do on your phone?

It’s easy to do. Spy apps are plentiful and can imperceptibly track text and e-mail messages, location, Web sites you visit, who you call and what photos and videos you shoot. The problem is these apps are difficult to detect and run invisibly in the background.

I decided to track my son and installed an app on his phone called Phone Control by Laucass (free on Google Play). Of course, secretly intercepting electronic communications without the person's knowledge and consent is illegal, so I told my son I was doing it and that I’d only use it if I had good reason.

Every day I receive emails that indicate my son’s location as he’s using his phone out in the world. I can click on those links in my email to see via Google Maps where he is (although I very rarely do). I could also set up the app to send me data about everything else he’s doing on his phone, but that’s not something I personally need—or want—to do.

Signs your phone may have been compromised

Someone borrowed or took your phone

I had to have my son’s phone in hand to install Android Phone Control. Once activated, however, there’s no icon in the application launcher. The app shows up with the name “Android System” in the applications manager so it doesn’t look suspicious. If you think someone could do something like this when you’re not paying attention or asleep, secure your phone with a passcode that isn’t easy to guess.

(Editor's Note 9/26/12: To confirm you have the spyware and not a standard Android app by the same name, follow these steps to open the spy app (dial the phone number.)

(Editor's Note 8/28/13: See our in-depth study of mobile security apps for more detail on 9 of the most common spyware programs and how to detect them.)

(Editor's Note 12/16/14 (Josh Kirschner): In some of my comments below, I noted the unlikelihood of spying on iPhones that were not jailbroken. However, since many of those comments were made, certain holes were identified in iOS that exploit the iPhone's connection to trusted networks and devices to allow someone with access to the network or device to download significant amounts of personal data. Jailbreaking the iPhone was not required. Fortunately, those holes have been patched in iOS 8. For more information, see: http://www.zdziarski.com/blog/?p=3820]

Your phone is acting weirdly

Taking forever to shut off, lighting up for no reason, suddenly getting much shorter battery life or running hot when you’re not using it may indicate hidden processes are running in the background.

Your data usage skyrockets for no reason

This could be because your phone is checking in with someone else, using GPS and sending them text messages or emails that communicate where you are and what you’re doing.

What to do if you suspect your phone's being monitored

The best thing to do is perform a factory reset, which you can find as an option in your phone’s settings. Know, however, that in doing so you will lose all data stored on your phone, so back it up first.

If you’re using Apple iCloud or Android 4.0, items like your contacts, photos and music are automatically synced and saved in the cloud. But if you have an older phone, you’ll want to make sure to export your contacts before doing a factory reset. There are various ways to do this depending on what phone you’re using and which operating system it’s running. If you’re not sure, get help from your cellular provider; they can make sure to retain your contacts and other important data during a factory reset.

You'll then want to use a strong passcode to prevent unauthorized access to your device. For Android devices, you can also install an app, like AppNotifier (free on Google Play), that will email you when programs are loaded onto your phone.

(Editor's Note 9/26/12: See our updated recommendations for Android antimalware solutions)

(Editor's Note 8/28/13: See our in-depth study of mobile security apps for our latest recommendations on how to protect yourself.)

You'll then have to tackle the issue of who's doing the monitoring. Keep in mind that if your device was issued by your company or is authorized to access your company's email and other data services, you may have given your consent as part of your employment contract or when access was data access was granted.



Discussion loading

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Being watched and heard

From Jerry on May 04, 2019 :: 8:25 pm

I have a girlfriend and her ex is able to download an app from his phone to mine. This app gives him the ability to watch me and listen to me,at all times. I tried turning off the camera and voice but this guy still able to do it. He can get into whatever o do and send me messages. He uses the titles,of things and true using certain words or names to send his message. What the he’ll can I do to stop this. His name is Clint Murphy from Marshall I’m.,or is there a way I can track the app and link back to him so I can nail his ads on invasion of privacy? Please help

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I cant live this way

From Anonymous on May 30, 2019 :: 4:35 pm

Iblame myself because I saw the sighns early on and was unable to separate myself from him. He has used 8 computers and 6 cell phones to film me and record all conversation. After Mathews (Apt flooded up to ceiling)lost basically all records except for a few. Living in this backward state where Trump voters who are majority of white men knew how dangerous he was as he attempted to kill me twice . Due to those incidents and fists hitting my head, I now have to have 2 vertebrai replaced with cages….I am trying to relay how dangerous he is. I live in chapel House NC a pretend town who pretend to care. He has tracked me using google andwent into DMV to get address after Mathews, even Prime Amazon andother streaming programs sent papers to the police because they saw on their end that he was changing passcodes and the account as the admin. This is so with my phone. Police say that I have to prove that it is coming from him , howver it goes ping in every country you can imagine. Now my flip phone which does not have the amount of gega bites ? He is going through camera and he is the admin of KAIson meaning he is the adminstator of my burnt phone. I no longer have a computer and had to get roku. After beating me, he chased me with a car down the high way and I thought he could have had his shotgun. Please note that after the flood. I was unable to use 8 phones and now this one. I feel afraid every time I leave the house and he had two folders for video and pic one called Target. This man is a well educated man that creates programs for PPD working with pharma and trained classically on the piano. He was safe and cowardly meaning, he was not an activist. Jesus Christ or Martin Luther King, but he terrorized me and we later found out after his admitions animals and pets. This is the first time I am writing or communicating. I just created an email but somehow he ends up finding them. Yes any info one can share, I would be grateful. I believe he might have put a tracker on my phone. I saw his x wife car and the locks on my car is destroyed. He might try to kill my service dog(I am still in denial as to the totality and extention of physical harm.  So any info on phones and a cheap way to see if there is a tracker on my car would be much appreciated.
Thank you

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I wish you will get my post...

From Kirsty Lynn on November 11, 2019 :: 8:27 pm

My dear, I know how you feel.. I have been in same situation… Even worse.. it was the worst time of my life.  Had to get a hacker who helped me get lots of proof to take him to court. I’m so happy and grateful to God that I’m free.. and I wouldn’t wish same for no woman. Write Nickolai on;
*darkcyberhackx AT protonmail.com
*darktechage AT gmail.com

Best of luck and take care of yourself.
Love,
Kirsty.

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build repor with friends and police presense

From jduran on June 09, 2019 :: 9:12 pm

ts dificult to say when they are doing this type of harassment normally it is not as covert as it seems to be
most just bluff in a way it seems like you explained but you can control more than you know make it seem not that they are getting caught or
someone is helping you is best an old friend dont tell them your unbelivabel story just worried that they taking advantage of you being alone
and talk to a police officer that it seems crazy but you know of harassment like this and want to prevent it from happening to you while building repor with
the officer too so as too they are aware of some situation and invite them over too you to show their presense is good for them to stop or avoid
the police and might get lucky and see the harassment

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😩

From Miguel Casas Reyes on June 26, 2019 :: 9:48 am

🤤😒

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Too obvious about it

From Looey77 on July 08, 2019 :: 11:17 pm

I got the vibe one day they were spying on me. So I used her as a bait. My smiling comment gone viral. I said I was a whistle blower to check out who was stupid enough to come to the house and they did

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Gangsyalking

From PLSalazar on August 02, 2019 :: 3:39 pm

For those of you on here suggesting that gangstalking/hacking is all in people’s minds….how do you explain that people all over the world are having the SAME exact invasion of privacy. Hmmm maybe people that have never met are all making it up. I was part of that new Yorks times article and it got changed before being published because the writer was threatened.

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chances are you are being hacked.

From win on August 16, 2019 :: 12:01 am

if you feel like you are being hacked, chances are, you are absolutely right. theres plenty of ways they could do it too. broadband over powerline, air drop, nfc, fake access point, using icloud, google , facebook, by calling you with an 800 num, text messaging, javascript n so on. search defcon on youtube. alot of exploits r on there. i know this because ive been getting hacked for years now , theres only one thing that i know they cant hack n control tho. karma.they got theirs coming.

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Been stalked since 2016 stalkers ask questions

From Karen moss on September 21, 2019 :: 8:12 pm

She’s untouchable obbsses on GPS my son’s phone.  Her number can’t be tracked blocked act she even called n said my son tried harming himself. He blocked her and she was mad thinking he was cheating on her. He’s gone to jail and tells him to end life ECT how can I stop this monster and have her leave my famy my private life alone?

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Ryan is correct

From Rocky Violet on October 19, 2019 :: 12:06 pm

That’s the problem; people call it mental illness. They mostly target white conservatives. Many r evil. Ryan is correct. They fancy themselves “ trappers” and trainers of people. Some groups r not as evil pieces of shit as others. It’s all games and they wager on the bullshit. Many work for google. They torment and torment. Just remember, God is strong. Stay centered on the Lord. So for all of u jumping on the mental illness wagon, get ur heads out of your asses. This shit is real.

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Same here since 2015,

From LMae Champagne on December 16, 2019 :: 5:42 am

Same type stuff happening too me, where as in 2016 I’d turn on my lap top an it would beep as talking too me, my phones went totally weird, at one point at 2 different stores my cards wouldn’t work when my putting pin #, my lap top would start too run down like was a melt down. But the noise was continueious. Since 2017 every one my phone’s been acting weird. As if I say any thing out loud text call like I’m being monitored 24/7. At one point thought I had fake apps instalked on my blade 2 Android, As of right now I have 3 paper waits trying change passwords in phones, now I locked my self out my laptop also. I’m drove.

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Whenever I check my husband's location on find a phone the location is hear lately been wrong what's

From Malinda on December 21, 2019 :: 4:06 am

I often look at find a phone ALOT now after I started to see that his location and pin pointed wrong address and pinpoints were so wrong his location ends up.being the same wrong location every TIME same spots and the scary part is there all pining back to the county cost building and a major court appointed Attorney s office and a street that one of the police stations are Now my first thought is my husband’s phone line is being monitored by police cause I can’t think of any other reason why the same places pop up even when he’s not any where near those places what do you think a wrongful GPS POINT WOULD BE WRONG AND AT THE SAME PLACES OF LAW INFORCEMENT ? WE HAVENT DONE ANYTHING WRONG OR WE DONT EVEN HAVE TRAFFUC TICKETS IF THATS THE CASE

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I'm getting hacked like a turkey.

From Ronald on December 28, 2019 :: 1:37 pm

Phone is getting hacked. I didn’t think that stuff was bad until now. Any and everything on my phone is going to hell. My contacts was called. I’ve lost my job, my family and friends don’t want nothing to do with me, I was self employed, WAS self-employed. Every way I try to make money gets shut down. I tried to get unemployment benefits, it gets denied along with food stamps. I go to the police for help and get committed in the mental hospital for 8 days over a false mental health warrant. It force me to be homeless and I’m living out my car. When I was tooken to the mental hospital, the police confiscated my weapon and since I’m sleeping in parking this would be the perfect time for a weapon but they will not give it back. Someone has the key fob to my car. When I’m sleeping in my car the locks unlock and lock. And I really think there’s another mental health warrant put out on me. Also, I’m positive there’s a gps on my vehicle. The police won’t do nothing to help. I was recorded in the restroom at my storage bathing and it was shown in my neighborhood I grew up in. No one believes a thing I say and everyone knows what’s going on but won’t tell me nothing. They think it’s funny but the person that’s doing this to me got them committing felonies. I don’t know what to do.

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It's happened to me.

From Nic Nellos on January 23, 2020 :: 5:17 pm

I lost my business and everything. I can’t use a phone to make money. Somehow the number gets forwarded.
I will tell you what I know. Not much.

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Urgent help

From Gavin on February 03, 2020 :: 6:47 am

I have an exwife that was gold digging. I got all assets and 100% custody of our son.
Now omg. She has paid a professional spy agency. The level of this spying is unbelievable. Conversations recorded with the phone off. She knows who i talk to and about what. Has camera access. Live screen access. What i sleep, what i go to the toilet. I have change numerous phones and phone numbers.
Unless you know my story people think i am crazy.
It is at the stage of she will be getting a bunch of flowers and a short speach.
It is beyond funny.

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People are tricky and very innovative

From Josh Spicer on February 18, 2020 :: 2:50 am

I just discovered the conversations that I thought were private between a family member and I have been intercepted from a significant other of theirs. this person thought for a long time I was spilling information to that person and for a minute I thought maybe I had a split personality and was doing that but come to find out I noticed their contacts are linked up together on my phone and sometimes when he calls me the other number shows up. I’m not delusional not on drugs because I actually went and took a drug test that was sent to a lab because weird things were happening in my home sounds and things being moved around. I got a RFD or whatever it’s called sensor which can detect wireless cameras and I found three. These are very easily obtained and are very reasonably priced nowadays I suggest if you think that is happening to you purchase one and if you’re wrong the Peace of mind of knowing is better then wondering. Stress is actually something that is real and is a killer of many Americans and many others in other countries also. Spend the money take your phone in and get the peace of mind like I said stress is a horrible thing and it will kill you early.

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In need of help ASAP please!! Needed for court case...

From Jessie on March 01, 2020 :: 8:37 pm

My ex went and purchased new cell phones on Valentine’s day several years ago. We had split up 6 months earlier but due to having a child together we were attempting to possibly work things out. I am a bit computer savvy but not a genius plus I had a million other issues going on when he gave me the phone to use. Due to my being completely wrapped up in everything else that I had going on I never even considered the fact that he may have bugged my new phone that he gave me. When my phone started acting up that that actually crossed my mind that maybe that was what had happened and was causing this issue but again with a million things on my plate I didn’t have time to look into it until months later. When I did look into it I was surprised but not surprised at the same time when I found that he had indeed put a spy app on my cell phone! it wasn’t something that could be easily found so when going through my phone it wouldn’t just pop out. It was actually in the Chrome app OK Google that I found this at that had been placed on my phone to monitor record and totally and completely invade my privacy and anyone that use my phone and every way a person could possibly invade a person and any information they had on a phone! This app actually took pictures of the person that was using the phone, it recorded every conversation during every phone call that was made and received, every text message that went out and was received was recorded and sent to his email on his computer and his cell phone, every website that was accessed off the cell phone was also sent, and when finding this the feeling that I got what’s beyond one but I can even begin to explain! The invasion of my privacy doesn’t even touch the damage that he has done and is still trying to create for me and my children all because he is a narcissistic stalker who thinks that he can get away with anything and unfortunately at this point because I don’t know who to turn to to actually examine my phone and write up a report regarding this app and the invasion of my privacy he has you said against me and continues to do so or as I’ve been told is going to try to use against me in the near future! Please if there’s anyone that can help me with any information on who I should contact about this and could maybe point me in the right direction as to how to go about pressing charges against my ex for doing this to me and my children I greatly appreciate it! This is an extremely serious matter and the court that I need this information for is not just any regular court it’s actually for family court so my kids are my life actually depend on getting this information if someone could please and yes I am begging please help me in any way with any information I would so desperately and greatly appreciate it more than I could ever say!! The information that he has it’s not bad but that’s not why I’m concerned, what concerns me and has me on edge is the fact that he takes anything he can get his hands on and twists it and revises it in any way he can to make it out to be something really horrible to make me look bad because I left him because he’s abusive! Again please if anyone has even the slightest bit of information on what steps I need to take to prove that what he has done to me is illegal and I can find someone that can take a look at my phone write up for a report about it so Justice can be served I would be more than grateful! We’ve hurt me and my kids through several years now of hell and he just keeps escalating in how vicious and vindictive he can actually be! I can’t believe they make apps that anyone can access like that that actually steals a person’s privacy like this app dead to me especially in the hands of my ex and the phone company that he went through the person that was working that day actually helped him pick out this app that set my life into an even bigger hell and gave my abusive narcissistic EX complete and total control pretty much every aspect of my life because I use my cell phone to contact everyone in my life professional or personal! It’s where I look up my information it’s we’re friends of mine look up information they need my children look up stuff for school and this app could very well completely and totally cuz more herb thank God and it already has the evil just seems to keep growing all because of a stupid app that is used to spy on the unsuspecting Clueless innocent person usually by a psychopath or crazy ex-husband as it seems to be both in my case!! So the people that created these apps need to be held responsible in every way shape and form for the damage that their app has caused innocent people! At least we tell that people are actually so selfish to do something so horrible and Evil as take away a person’s privacy and free will to make decisions and who knows information about them and who doesn’t

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Hacked

From Brenda Rodriguez on March 04, 2020 :: 10:32 pm

Can some search from their phone and make it look like if came from my phone

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