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Is Someone Spying on Your Phone?

by on May 28, 2020
in Phones and Mobile, Cell Phones, Tips & How-Tos, Privacy :: 852 comments

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[Editor's note 5/28/2020: Since this article was written nine years ago, many new phone hacking methods have been developed and/or discovered. In addition, cell phone operating systems have evolved significantly. 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.



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From Tracey on October 08, 2020 :: 7:25 pm

Read this.

Reply

Why is my phone ringing and when.i.pick it up.its me calling. Them ?

From Malinda Whitehead on October 09, 2020 :: 1:32 pm

I have been.exsperienceing too many times already my messinger would be ringing and I look at my phone it’s my husband I answer it AND ITS MY.PGONE CALLING HIM.IM LIKE WHAT IS GOING ON IM NOT CALLING HIM AND IT WOULDNT BE ON MESSINGER IF I DID ANYWAYS AND HE ANWERS AND I TELL HIM I DIDNT CALL HIM MY PHONE RANG SO WITH.ME HAVING A CONVERSATION WITH MY HUSBAND ON MESSINGR WHYIS THERE ANY TRACE OR SOMETHING SATHING THERE WAS A CALL ON MESSINHER THERE IS NO SIGHN OF A CONVERSATION NO DATE OR TIME NOTHING WHY IS THIS HAPPENG.ITS RANDOM CALLING WITHOUT ME KNOWING ???.SOMEONE OR SOMETHING IS MWSSING WITH MY PHONE ??

Reply

Why is my phone ringing and when.i.pick it up.its me calling. Them ?

From Malinda Whitehead on October 09, 2020 :: 1:33 pm

I have been.exsperienceing too many times already my messinger would be ringing and I look at my phone it’s my husband I answer it AND ITS MY.PGONE CALLING HIM.IM LIKE WHAT IS GOING ON IM NOT CALLING HIM AND IT WOULDNT BE ON MESSINGER IF I DID ANYWAYS AND HE ANWERS AND I TELL HIM I DIDNT CALL HIM MY PHONE RANG SO WITH.ME HAVING A CONVERSATION WITH MY HUSBAND ON MESSINGR WHYIS THERE ANY TRACE OR SOMETHING SATHING THERE WAS A CALL ON MESSINHER THERE IS NO SIGHN OF A CONVERSATION NO DATE OR TIME NOTHING WHY IS THIS HAPPENG.ITS RANDOM CALLING WITHOUT ME KNOWING ???.SOMEONE OR SOMETHING IS MWSSING WITH MY PHONE ??

Reply

Factory reset doesn't stop these

From P Wright on October 13, 2020 :: 10:14 am

Factory reset doesn’t stop these ppl, let me just say this. I even went & bought new phone but they still got in & have had to reset it twice already & they are still there. After doing my own investigating I have found they are using the wifi calling app installed on the phone. They are controlling my phone now. They are disabling my apps that I use, like my security apps, & also I downloaded the Access Dots app & found my camera & microphone are being used, before they disabled it. I cannot change permissions as they have greyed them out to where I cannot. I know some of these apps have to have these permissions, but the ones who do not need them I cannot change. This person or persons have invaded my life to where I have no privacy when using my phone. They are in my contacts, messages, & voicemail. I cannot even begin to tell you how this has become invasion of privacy & I need to know how to uninstall this app. I do not want this on my phone anymore!

Reply

get the peace of mind you deserve.

From Michael Lamesa on October 22, 2020 :: 12:16 am

You can now get proof of infidelity and the peace of mind you deserve, head to the contact page on acephanthom . com

Reply

https://www.spouseware.net/

From Robert on November 06, 2020 :: 11:52 pm

hello, this post was awsome. i also would like to participate.

Reply

Name appears in text message setting

From Chelsey Purser on December 12, 2020 :: 2:20 am

okay so I have a friend who has a Samsung Galaxy and he showed me that my older brothers name randomly popped up when he clicked on messages and went to message settings where you’re able to decide if you want to receive notifications for new messages and whatnot… now we have recently had issues with his crazy ex tracking him or spyong with other Spyware apps. Ciuld it be a spy app and if so which app and it would have to be one thats able to be done without touching his phone because she is absolutely unable to get her hands on it. He locks it up and hides the key every time she with him.

Reply

Baby your love is enough

From joy on December 13, 2020 :: 5:48 am

Baby your love is enough to make me smile,
Your love gives me all the gay,
It is like the first sunrays of the day
It is like a shady and windy way,
Your love is enough for my heart
Please never ever go apart
Coz I love you so much!
Love is that treasure that changes the life
Love is that treasure that makes the heart yearn
I don’t ever want to lose this treasure
Because this gives me a reason to live
Baby you are in my life
You have been there in all the strive
You have borrowed my sorrow
Inspired me to look into tomorrow
Your love is undying for me
Your love will never change I know
Its just that sometimes I may show
And sometimes I may not show
I love you so much!

Reply

Phone hacking

From Monica Regina on January 06, 2021 :: 5:01 pm

Got to see all of my husband’s text messages, calls, and chats directly from my phone. For a long while now, I’ve been having trust issues with my husband, so I came on here in search for help on how to spy on him and after going through several reviews about .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), I immediately mailed for help, surprisingly, after a few hours, he delivered without any glitch. Simply the best you can come across.you can reach out to him now on .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and you can text or call him on +1-(938) 444-4148 or on WhatsApp +1(470) 777-2098 He would surely help.

Reply

Phone hacking

From Fred Jerry on January 06, 2021 :: 5:02 pm

i have watched a lot of youtube videos and i will tell you all of them require having access to the device. i needed this done remotely so i hired this private investigator and he got me into my spouse device in to time at all with amazing results, he also helped my friends in the process. i will recommend .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and you can text or call him on +1-(938) 444-4148 or on WhatsApp +1(470) 777-2098 to get all your work done.

Reply

Been hacked for 3plus years

From Marlene on January 08, 2021 :: 5:02 pm

I seen wendys story, it’s like mine. I have been hacked for 3 + years. I have at times thought I was losing my mind. My life is not the same it consumes me. This hacker or hackers are stalking me. They threaten me with ads, shows me a ad of ak 47,and that was blinking red and white car crash. They have locked me out of 15 phones maybe 7 were iphone. If I’m looking up apps in the play store, like yesterday I wanted to get a vpn,I tapped on the play store it’s on typed I VPN it pops up tells me I’m off line try later. If I try to reach out for help I will get a threaten. They redirect my search won’t let me look up just anything, Now I have chat bot on my phone app so upon failing it shows the number in chat bot internet. So I guess everyone can hear or read the conversation. They have all of my private information they could assume my identity if they haven’t already. I typed in my name on the Google boom I had so many last names wow it’s horrible. They use my email but act like it’s me. They hear us talk all the time,stop my messages,emails,I get them if they choose to. I have never let anything steal my joy until now I took money out of a atm, last week they were able to intercept it. Had to close account, it’s still frozen bank is trying to trace it.Im not savvy when it comes to tech stuff. I so appreciate you,I think reading your stories helped normalized me. Help please if possible.

Reply

TAKE THE POWER OF PRIVACY BACK

From Shawn Casey on January 18, 2021 :: 8:24 pm

I have been in the same exact situations of every commenting member describing their situations. I have had enough!!! My back is against the wall so I have NO choice but to make this end…whatever it takes…whatever the consequences are. I fear none of these people and I would like to have like minded people come together to discuss our options. And believe me when I say their are options.This will stop!!! Contact me at [PERSONAL INFORMATION REMOVED] to start taking our power back and standing up to these punks!!! We will prevail my friends!!!! God bless

Reply

Having this same exact problem

From Tanya Kwiatkowsli on January 29, 2021 :: 12:43 am

She asked about tracking when GPS and find my phone is off, as well as monitoring phone conversations and remotely activating the microphone. To do do that type of monitoring, you would either need spyware installed directly on the device or do it in conjunction with your carrier.

My point was that “all the abilities of law enforcement” still don’t provide that level of monitoring without a warrant.

Is it possible her cop has a friend on the “inside” at a carrier that is helping him do the tracking on an extra-judicial basis without a warrant? It’s possible, I guess, but would seem to be a pretty risky maneuver as I’m assuming that it’s not a simple process for a carrier to initiate monitoring of a device - it would likely require downloading special software to the phone. And both the cop and the carrier person would be risking termination and possibly prison time if caught.

I’ve never seen a program that can be sent by email that would allow someone to track a phone’s location or view messages/pictures stored on the phone. Can you provide a reference for that?

Still believe I have at least one foot in 2014…

Reply

My phone is Hacked!!!

From Linda Reyes on February 20, 2021 :: 10:17 am

I know and I know that someone is spying on me I do not have anything to hide but if I pay to have a phone I should be able to control it. I am 73 yrs old I need to be able to call when and if I need help!!!

Reply

Need help? Serious info

From Lesley on March 24, 2021 :: 1:37 pm

It’s actually true that you can override a iphone without physical access although , my experience is a bad one but regardless I stood above the hurdles and dark nights , then I finally met a genius who made this possible hence it’s damn difficult , payment a lot of money on spy apps and get nothing . Sucks

Reply

Please help me and allow me to be a part of your study.

From Marguerite Harper on March 24, 2021 :: 3:20 pm

I have been destroyed. My “friend ” hacked my iPhone and laptop/router…stole all my info. Stole my identity. I desperately need help. Please choose me for your study

Reply

Apple

From Lauren on March 31, 2021 :: 5:39 am

It’s just done

Reply

Ex is stocking me but he is letting me know but play like I'm loosing it

From jen proffitt on April 09, 2021 :: 1:18 pm

I have had to get a restraining order he shows up were I’m at he call he ha sent messages to my friends and has went and actively blocked some of my text messages I tells me he will kill me he has a long list of of bad mean crimes holding people hostage my 16 son has nightmares of killing him cause he torchers us plz I need him gone I go to court on the 16th to prove why I need my protection this is a bad dream he will make it were I can’t call anyone I have tried to explain to the police the really think I have lost it for someone that knows this stuff I have the prove I knew nothing and I have been able to get a lot the info he was putting in what do I do were do I go to get help

Reply

*#21#

From I@me on April 22, 2021 :: 10:33 pm

Cell phone Dial code
& check diagnostics/analytics
Clear internet data
Check analytics/system Diagnostics again
Log into phone on computer check key logs
Look at phone ip info network system info app- check dns and ports open on device
Can use Google account dashboard or apple privacy to do a takeout
Log into your cellular phone carrier account check your data usage history and

Reply

N/A

From Kevin Carter on April 23, 2021 :: 4:30 pm

I have been having this happing to me it has put me and my wife through hell I didn’t believe in all this and gang stalking but it’s real and something needs to be done I have been ruined my life is nothing they have taken everything from us and I don’t even know who they are and why I have been dealing with this for over ten years the isolation you tell someone and they think you are crazy the Cyber bullying and not even being able to know what on your screen is really real are what they want you to see and not being able to make it receive emails or calls it can make you feel as if you are crazy I don’t know what to do anymore just that I’m tired of everything it had made me a paranoid suspicious and a hate to others and that is not who I am any advice would be appreciated

Reply

Same!

From Frankie Don Boyle on May 31, 2021 :: 9:30 pm

Same thing happened to me.
I now know my ex & ex housemate had secret iPhones they were communicating via all social media platforms .. even through emails and App Store!!!
Crazy!
So he was trying to ‘locate’ where she was hiding her phone.
Then he put it into list mode and activation locked the device .
Traumatic but I’m over them both now x good luck xx

Reply

i feel your pain

From dkshee22 on August 04, 2021 :: 7:57 am

this is pure hell they break in and w use adt but they still get in im sick of this/police what police they are croocked cops too and my neighbor is getting inside help

Reply

Backup, Reset then what?

From Justin Baird on June 03, 2021 :: 10:41 pm

Once I’ve done a factory reset, I would presume the point of the backup would be to reinstall the apps - Wouldn’t that simply reinstall the app that was allowing the snooping?

Reply

No, the backup is for your data

From Josh Kirschner on June 04, 2021 :: 11:10 am

The backup is to save your important photos, videos and files before the reset. After the reset, you should manually reinstall those applications which you really need and know are safe. However, even if you did reinstall the spyware app, the ones we describe in this article require someone to have direct access to your device to configure them.

Note that we have a much newer story on how to tell if your phone has been hacked, which has a wider range of hacking techniques and tips on how to prevent them.

Reply

What to do in a situation you don’t know what’s up

From Lesley on July 13, 2021 :: 4:22 am

When you see these signs , you might not be sure but you sure have a lead . You need to find out the truth , find answers to so many questions through Hackbyharley at g’mail for exclusive access to information you need , so many assumptions can be wrong and if you confront your spouse in that manner without proof it will escalate things and even make things go worse , my advice is that you take a bold step to what you want , that will aid you in making very good decisions .

Reply

I really do not know what to put in comment title but I need help please.

From Brenda Kotofski on August 03, 2021 :: 6:55 pm

I don’t even know if I’m writing to the right people, I need help I am so not tech savvy like I’m lucky I know how to even turn a cellphone on,see my sister took care of all my technical issues setting phones up anything like that, about a week ago I had this notification I hit it and for some funny reason as much as I don’t know about technical things it wasn’t like 5 minutes later I knew in my gut something was wrong, I don’t know how I knew but I knew and I was right somebody apparently hacked my phone, my phone is so messed up I don’t know what to do they said that my zim card has been cut off, they are now saying that my phone its going to be cut off along with other things, I don’t even know about, I don’t know who to call I’m just at a loss, do you think that maybe you can point me in the right directions,Iam literally afraid to even turn my phone on cuz I don’t know what’s going to happen, I appreciate any help that you could give me. Thank You Again Brenda Kotofski

Reply

my neighbors suck they have

From dshanna22 on August 04, 2021 :: 7:40 am

my neighbors suck they have been stealing and hacking me for 3 yrs the cops wont do crap/well unless they kill you or so it seems

Reply

Girl stop

From Blessed on August 17, 2021 :: 1:08 pm

To lady about mom and grandchild drama. Umm You want us to call the FBI LOL cause your post and don’t take it wrong but it’s annoying u keep telling us the same thing we get it u hate her lol 😂 We don’t care about all that we want to here about the phone fix. It’s illegal PERIOD to track someone like that I’m sure your mom doesn’t know. So call the popo make them listen take proof and kick her evil self to the curb. (flips hair)

Reply

Comments

From David hickle on October 14, 2021 :: 5:25 am

What if I want to put my smartphone on my bellybutton cover it up with my t-shirt while I’m laying on my back asleep would my smartphone automatically short out a d electrocute me until I’m dead

Reply

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