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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 :: 749 comments

[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

He's stalking me....

From Maggie Jackson on June 25, 2013 :: 2:15 pm

My jealous, over-protective BF installed “Find my iPhone” on my phone to make sure I was where I said I would be and make sure I wasn’t “doing anything sketchy”.  He told me when he did this & I didn’t think anything of it since, contrary to his imagination, I’m not doing anything wrong.  2 questions:  Sometimes he tells me he “sees me” yards & yards from where my phone actually is. How can that be? Also, how can I be alerted everytime he is actually tracking my phone?  I;m not going to turn the feature off because then he will believe I’m hiding something, but I would like to be aware of when he does it and can I be alerted every time he tracks me?

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And you're okay with that?

From Josh Kirschner on June 26, 2013 :: 11:02 am

Let me start with your technical questions. Location tracking can be inaccurate for a number of reasons. If you don’t have a good satellite signal or no signal, your location will be off. This could be because your iPhone is reporting its last known good location or switching to cell tower-based location tracking, which can be much less accurate.

There’s no easy way to be alerted when someone is using the Find My Phone feature. Part of the feature is not to alert the person who has the phone, so you can better track down a stolen device.

It’s also possible that your controlling BF has installed other spyware on your iPhone that will allow him to track you texts, voice calls and even your email. Downloading Lookout Security for your iPhone to check for jailbreaking. If it is jailbroken, it’s highly likely there is spyware on the device.

It’s beyond me why you’re okay with him tracking you this way - my expertise is in tech, not relationships. Though my wife would probably say I’m at least doing an okay job with the latter. But you may want to consider talking to a counselor about your relationship. It’s not normal and it’s not healthy.

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Use Being Hacked to YOUR Advantage

From Susan on July 07, 2013 :: 11:49 pm

To all the hackees reading this site:  If you are in some kind of battle/contest like a nasty divorce, child custody, alimony contest, etc., and you have been hacked, and you know about it, you have been handed a golden opportunity.

Go to the store and get a NON smart phone and use that to speak with attorneys, family and other confidants.  You may have to leave this cell locked in your work desk if you live in the same house as your hacker because, as my friend’s husband did to her, your hacker may be going through your car, your purse and your pockets after you get home from work.  Then, only use the hacked phone for incidental phone calls AND to provide the information to your hacker that you WANT him/her to have.  It is a beautiful way to turn this situation to your advantage.

My friend very accidentally discovered that her estranged husband had called their family plan cell phone provider and enabled GPS tracking on her handset just before she left to drive across two states to visit me for ten days.  She was scared to death, but then we couldn’t stop laughing after we made our game plan.  We got even with him by getting a non-smart prepaid phone which she keeps locked in her desk at work, and then we immediately sent the GPS-enabled phone on a little trip.  We charged it, and then mailed the phone and the charger to my cousin in California, then he charged it and mailed it to Georgia, then next person charged it and mailed to Florida.  So for almost two weeks, he wasn’t tracking her, he was tracking some mailman!  It made him NUTS, and it was just what he deserved.

If someone you are in a dispute with gets access to your phone, the only thing better for you is if you can make sure they also get access to an email account that you have.  You will be able to provide false information, and you will control the entire situation.  It’s a beautiful thing.

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Spying on my phone & text messages

From Lucy on July 08, 2013 :: 7:35 pm

I recently divorced and still think my ex is spying on me. I know he somehow hacked into my old IPHONE. He was able to turn in on and listen to conversations I was having with others. I think he has gotten into a phone my mom got me. How can I be sure who it is? Him or my new guy? It is an old T Mobile Nokia smart phone. It has had all the thing described above. Comes on for no reason, phone or battery hot, wont shut off when I try the first time. I have info I stored all the nasty text he sent into a folder on my phone. But not every T Mobile knows how to retrieve my text which is stupid to me. I store them on a thumb drive. So my ? How can I tell if it is still being spied on what can they see? Text, phone conversations and numbers? Can I find out WHO it is spying??? My new guy I think has cheated on me twice and talking to another girl and text quit often. He’s talking to someone how can I track his texts and phone conversations???

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Contact me for help with your current phone

From Josh Kirschner on July 22, 2013 :: 2:46 pm

Hi Lucy,

We’re looking for participants in a story we’re working on about victims of spyware. If you’re interest in participating (we won’t use your real name in the story), we can walk through an analysis of your phone and resolve hardware threats we find. Though it can be very difficult to tell who is actually doing the spying just from a technical analysis. Contact me at ********* if interested.

Best,
Josh Kirschner
Founder, Techlicious

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scan asap!!

From Nate 9708884811 on February 12, 2015 :: 6:25 am

There are some people in my life right now telling me to destroy my IphoneS. I told a detective i would assist him, but was really just trying to say my goodbyes to my papa who may not be around when i get out!. Now i have a certain Cartel awaiting orders from HA tomorrow

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My number bud!!

From Nate 9708884811 on February 12, 2015 :: 6:33 am

My number bud!!

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I've been hacked my phone

From ricky on June 08, 2015 :: 1:27 am

I’ve been hacked my phone has been rooted without my knowledge. I have background processes running and bad batterylife my phone takes audio and video recordings of me etc. How can I get this off

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Crazy girlfriend

From Holly on June 25, 2015 :: 2:17 pm

I am currently being spied on by my bf…she has me video n audio recorded with hidden cameras n also has my phone bugged n has parental controls on my LG flex..what can I do to block her or find what apps she has put on my phone. I don’t care if she knows I found them. please help me..n how do I find the hidden cameras in my house

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Want to be part of study

From Sydni sallee on January 02, 2016 :: 5:21 pm

iPhone 6 in probate litigation I get text while writing text that said a legal action was “stupid” when got black banner top screen rolling message that said “not stupid I can’t hack your iPhone”.


Urgent help needed

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Unbelievable, even to myself

From Kat on September 04, 2017 :: 3:46 pm

I previously was in a relationship, when in the beginning was what I thought to be my own personal “Cinderfuckingrella” story, that blindsided me in whole. When I tell people bits and pieces of the hell I lived daily for almost 2 years I almost feel like I should be in a mental hospital. I reassure you I am of sound mind. When one lives through the hell I faced then there would be understanding. Even to this day (1 year later) I revert back to moments with my “ex-ass” that left a scar. So many times I wonder what is wrong with me that I stick it out for as long as I did? One can’t fathom that the environment around them could possibly be compromised in it’s entirety. Mine was and because of it I have inherited a paranoia that never even remotely existed in anything me. It is literally living he’ll. I have been trying to find information explaining the technical aspects “the monster” used to aide in destroying my life wholy. My story is long.  It is crazy. I will let you in on a brief moment that took place then and if you would like to know anything more then email me and I will set aside time to write more detailed happenings.
  My mobile carrier at the time was T-Mobile. I went to the mall and for “the devil’s advocate” and myself a LG K-7 phone. I didn’t have it very long and started having issues. I kept saying that someone was in my phone and has been changing my passwords and settings on my phone. All felt I was a bit extreme in my thinking and blew me off. I called t-mobile with a technical issue that arose. When talking to anyone through my, now 2 week old phone, I would have to practically yell into the phone in order to be heard. I explained to the tech that ,crazy as it sounds, I think someone is in my phone. He entertained me and told me to hold my thumb down on each empty app slot on my app pages. In doing so the first slot I tried revealed a hidden app. He couldn’t believe it even more than myself. For as much as I was relieved for the visual proof of my paranoia it was very unsettling. They gladly sent me a new phone. It came while I was at work and when I got home was handed my new phone, opened, and “all ready to go” said “the creepy coward”. I had an uneasy feeling but brushed it off. I returned my other phone as required. Each phone and all it’s guts and parts have id numbers making them unique to one phone. I factory reset it instantly and then set up my new Google account and email. Miraculously my contacts and old texts and info from my bad phone are present in my new one? How? “The multi-abuser” tried convincing me that was a carrier benefit. I knew better but played along. .......when packing up my house i am bring made to leave due to financial misery I gained from the relationship, i discovered hid broken phone that was “thrown away”. I discovered that the motherboard wasn’t the same number as the other parts.  It was my old pho e and mine was hid and my new one was on the phone I returned. Wtf? And there is so much more…..

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How to contact u?

From Samyaza grigori on May 05, 2018 :: 7:05 pm

Ur contact info has *******so email the astrix or…..........needing some1 to talk to who hasnt been PLAYING with me since they noticed how fun it is but theu came for a show i dont want to disappoint

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WornOut

From WornOut on July 08, 2013 :: 8:24 pm

Well, I’m tired of the endless tracking by my supposed significant other. He hacked into my computer and then lost all my vacation pics and files. I no longer have a computer at home and only use the one at work.  Now he has hacked my phone. Before I put any antispyware on my phone, I want to know if there is reverse spyware that can tell me where the data is going once spyware is located. If I can prove where my data is going (via e-mail or notification), I could use that to my advantage. Wouldn’t this be proof enough for those that wish to prosecute?? I want to do this before installing anti-spyware and lose any proof.

I called my ex-husband twice this week because we agreed to remain friends but it makes BF crazy. He knew that I had made these calls and he cannot keep himself from asking questions the very same day, like “When was the last time you spoke to your ex.” Right away, I knew the snooping was happening again.  Then he has the stupid audacity to make a Facebook post that says “Deception is never the best policy, for it is far too easy to be informed in our technologically advanced society.” Wow, if that isn’t calling the kettle black - suggesting that I AM being deceptive. HA!!  Even crazier, he spent the entire weekend taking me out and spending money on me to ensure that I will always want him. [Mind you - I haven’t nor ever intended to cheat.]

And thank-you Susan for your comments on “using it to your advantage.” I thought I was the only one thinking like this. But I think I’m more vindictive. My BF is so insecure that I would cheat on him despite no proof after ALL his investigating. Now I’m ready to give him a run for his money. I’m going to buy the non-smart phone and have a hottie man leave a suggestive message on it. Then I will call it and have it call me A LOT all day when I am at work. He will go crazy and I will be taken out to a lot of nice places in the end. 
But seriously, is there a way to trace back where the data is going on my android smart phone? Is there an app for that?? If so, what kind of software is it? What is it called?  I’m sure it is stored in my phone, but I don’t know where to look. Am I looking for exported SMS data? How do I find that in my Kyocera phone?
Thanks, WornOut.

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That's not easy.

From Josh Kirschner on July 22, 2013 :: 2:50 pm

If you know what spyware is installed on your phone, you may be able to get into the settings using the default password, assuming the spy wasn’t smart enough to change it. Depending on which program it is, there may be info there on a phone number or email the info is being forwarded to. But the more advanced programs don’t work that way, and the only way to track it back to someone is via a sting type process.

If you’re interest in participating in a spyware story we’re working on (we won’t use your real name in the story), we can walk through an analysis of your phone and resolve hardware threats we find or provide guidance on what to do next. Contact me at ******* if interested.

Best,
Josh Kirschner
Founder, Techlicious

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You will find my mob bugs interesting, need you help

From Rez on September 06, 2016 :: 9:25 am

Hi Josh,
Thank for the info you provided above.
I been targeted directly and indirectly for sometimes now, my past n current phones, pic, laptop n everything else been compromised to the point of my extinction.
I am not that tech savvy but I see many many threads, malware n spyware on the log events that re crazy n clearly describing the tasks, I need you to get in touch with me and help me out,
And yes I am a human right/environmental activist

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My ex husband and his

From Barbara on June 09, 2019 :: 8:30 pm

My ex husband and his new chick and her assocated are linking into all my info messages and I can’t stop them and I reported it to police and the guy I was dating is involved yo through a chat message thang I’m lost when it comes to this and I tried if this shit what can I do if I don’t know how there doing it I have info in some of the criminal activities that could help what can I do they live in same complex and one if the office manager is good friends w 2 of them and I don’t know who to trust and they know when I come when I go and I reported it but nothing gets done I don’t really know why there doing this

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Prevent text message surveillance

From Jake on July 10, 2013 :: 7:17 pm

If you’re concerned about your text messaging privacy, you can use an encrypted messaging app, here’s the one I use for example: http://www.reviewsuniverse.com/send-secure/

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Help!

From Alayna on July 22, 2013 :: 11:58 am

Hi Josh…I found this article & comments very helpful & alarming. I recently got a restraining order against someone I didn’t even date due to harassment/etc. I changed my number before that. I know he continues to stalk me on every social media site, but I keep my privacy & am aware he does this & also keep tabs on his to see if he is breaking the restraining order. I do not know him to be a computer genius or anything, but he has decent knowledge about jailbreaking iphones, iphone apps that give you alternative #s to call/text (he has many) and he also would tell me about how he’d hack his ex’s facebook with false password setups etc. I wouldnt put it past this kid to do anything honestly and I’ve been living in fear.

I finally relaxed thinking he didn’t have my # and that he’d leave me alone but now am very alarmed. Less than a week ago I answered a blocked call only because I thought it was my friend on her work phone. It was very sketchy & they mumbled for a lot of it and eventually asked if I was a local hospital line. I have good hearing & I know they were just mumbling. It sounded just like this kid & I regretted answering it but nothing else happened. I never answer blocked #s. Now, last night I received a text from a random number asking me a personal question only he would ask me. I texted back who is this etc and even said I was someone else.

Now, this morning, I wake up and my phone is saying I need a PUK code for my SIM card. There is nothing I did to make this happen. My phone is a jailbroken iphone4. What should I do? I am freaked reading about how a 30 second call someone can hack into your SIM, or with a response to a text. Im not sure if this kid has this capability, but after reading all this I have no doubt. Also around the time I got that call he posted online “Shits too easy”.  I don’t know if I should allow it to keep going for now to try to bag him on a violation or just immediately change all my phone info again & reset my phone. Please help with any info on SIM hacking or ways to detect iphone hacking!

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Some advice

From Josh Kirschner on July 22, 2013 :: 2:59 pm

First of all, I’m not aware of any way to hack a phone through a phone call or simply by responding to a text. If you have a reference for where you saw this, please forward along.

But to tackle the bigger question, why is your iPhone jailbroken? Given your security concerns, the last thing you want to do is leave your phone open for hacking or spyware. You can un-jailbreak by installing the latest iOS update, which you should do ASAP.

Beyond fixing the jailbreak issue, there is no easy way to analyze an iPhone for hacking. Sometimes the hacking app can show up in your device memory usage logs, but this is hit or miss. Best just to update your phone.

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RE: Some advice

From Alayna on July 22, 2013 :: 6:12 pm

Well I went and changed my number & sim card as well as updated & restored my phone, getting rid of my jailbreak & updating to 6.1.3. What confused me is how my SIM card got locked overnight, ironically the same night, its never happened before.

When I woke up I was browsing through sites and found similar info to this on a few sites… http://blogs.computerworld.com/cybercrime-and-hacking/22520/750-million-phones-vulnerable-spying-hack-sim-card-tainted-text-get-root

I was only scared because I did answer the blocked call in which he mumbled to intentionally get me to talk/extend the call, which at first I figured was to verify my voice, but the call was around 30 seconds which someone stated is all someone would need. I also am kind of in disbelief as to how thatd work but that article talks about a Java program that can hack your SIM card by accessing your SMS unknowingly. Or that guy claims all he needs is a phone number and he can hack into a phone??

I do not know how this kid could have got my number. I’ve been living in fear & expending a lot of $ and energy into all this. I have good general knowledge about iphone software as far as jailbreaking & honestly have heard that you can have better control of your phone when jailbroken? I at least had more apps & tweaks to track things better….I just wish I could track these numbers to actually get him arrested for breaking the restraining order but it seems near impossible now that cyber stalking is on another level

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Thanks for that link

From Josh Kirschner on July 22, 2013 :: 6:52 pm

The method being described will only work on older SIMs and certainly doesn’t sound like it’s out in the wild yet, so I think it’s highly unlikely this was used on your phone.

Jailbreaking obviously gives you more control over your iPhone, with the flip-side that others get more control, too. Unless there are specific third-party apps you really need, I don’t think the risk is worth it, especially in your situation.

Many spyware programs can be remotely controlled by text message (once they are already installed).  If it is possible he had access to your phone in the past and installed something, then perhaps he was trying to activate it again and that somehow caused the PUK lock? I’m speculating here, but now that your phone is updated, you should be okay.

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I dont think thats accurate josh maybe u can review this

From Samyaza grigori on May 05, 2018 :: 7:20 pm

Someone could mock an email or a text message from someone that you trust and there could have a link in it as soon as you press the link s*** starts happening it’s happened to me I don’t have the phone of the pictures to prove it anymore but like I said if we’re going to make a story let’s make it good that’s why I really miss the upload function of the virustotal mobile because you could take links and stuff like that and put them into the app and find out but sadly that ability was taken away in an update but the mobile website who virustotal actually is and not some funny cat that’s the guy who makes the the mobile app it’s not really virustotal some funny cat is the producer of the mobile app it has virustotal in the name and it I guess uses the same search engines but for some weird reason the permissions that I were able to see yesterday and yesterday was Saturday May for Friday May 4th 2018 I was able to see the permissions of the the red letter text viruses that I had I installed the vibrator the thing today there’s no permissions and I can’t upload apks but yeah they took that ability out of the app

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basic phone can be hacked or not ?

From nadeem on July 30, 2013 :: 11:46 am

i dont know how this number appeared on my call details 8747747*7174*44444 , 47474441 , 44
i doubt someone is tracking my call , though i have a basic phone .
but the thing which created doubt was that on 44 the time duration was 35 minutes 12 sec ? how is it possible .
i am not tech savvy , please help me .

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Sounds like pocket dialing

From Josh Kirschner on July 31, 2013 :: 1:38 am

While getting spyware on a basic phone isn’t impossible, it’s usually not nearly as easy as with a smartphone. And the numbers you listed look more like pocket dialing than spying. The reason for the long call was most likely that you dialed some number that never hung up on your phone, causing it to remain connected.

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iphone4 hacking

From mike on August 05, 2013 :: 4:21 pm

Hi there as any one been hack with a wired noise on the line when taking some one from iphone then block iphone calling then stop internet working on iphone as well as laptop on hotspot ive rung my service and the police and no clue about internet crime so if any one out there as solve this problem please let me know regards mike.

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Did that fix it??

From Hailey on August 27, 2013 :: 10:41 pm

A while ago my brother updated my Facebook from his phone and I didn’t think much of it until I realized right now that he can read my texts and brought up something I haven’t told anyone, except to my friend through texts.

And he did say something about getting into my phone before. I’m like 99% sure he did the spy crap that was stated in this article.

I decided to do a factory reset thing, and disabled every single running app. Would that make sure he won’t be able to get back in my phone?

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response to Hailey

From holly on August 28, 2013 :: 1:20 am

Change your Facebook password. Until you change the password is changed, your brother can still can access your facebook from his phone if he saved your username and password when he updated the software.

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phone hack question

From guest on October 03, 2013 :: 2:42 pm

Hello,

I’m concerned that a verizon flip phone I had in 2007/2008, and eventually a verizon htc android phone in 2009/2010 and both were hacked by the same person. this person wouldn’t have had physical access to the phones. my questions are:
1. How could they have been remotely hacked?
2. if the smartphone was remotely hacked, could the hacker read emails via my gmail app, once they were “in” the smartphone? or would they only be able to intercept voice calls and texts?
3. I still have both phones; would it be possible to find out if there was ever malware/spyware on the phones, and, if so, to what account was my data sent or stored?

thanks

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Unlikely

From Josh Kirschner on October 03, 2013 :: 3:30 pm

It’s extremely unlikely that someone could remotely install spyware on your phone. I know of no generally available application that would allow you to do that. And the spyware available for Android requires your phone to be rooted in order to access Gmail (again, something that would require physical access).

It is possible to check your old phone for spyware by installing one of our recommended antispyware apps on it. You can see our recommendations and get further guidance here: https://www.techlicious.com/review/mobile-security-apps-perform-dismally-against-spyware/.

Remember that people can also spy on you if they uncover your login information for your gmail account or your phone carrier’s web portal. So if you suspect someone has access to your personal information, resetting you login details to use a new, strong password should be one the first steps you take.

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cell detective software

From robert on October 19, 2013 :: 12:31 pm

Cell Detective claims to be able to monitor any cell phone without ever touching or downloading any software to the target cell phone.  How is this possible and how does own know that their phone has been compromised and what does one do to prevent this since no programs have been downloaded to their phone?

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People claim all sorts of stuff

From Josh Kirschner on October 20, 2013 :: 12:57 am

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There are ways you overlook!?

From D.J. Mapes on August 05, 2016 :: 2:26 am

Pardon my impertinance but if you own a programmable scanner and can be within 5 miles of target cell phone then you can indeed listen to conversations, it does require a considerable amount of patience and stockpiled junk food but this is still used under certain circumstances by P.I.‘s and I’m aware of a corrupt CHP officer who used this tech to track drug dealers. Ashamed to admit it but I used it to clarify my Fiancee was cheating, she never gave the ring back which had belonged to my Grandmother! Just saying is all!

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That's not correct

From Josh Kirschner on August 05, 2016 :: 2:49 pm

Modern cell phones use encrypted digital signals that cannot simply be intercepted by a scanner. Unless that person is using a really, really old phone on a really, really old network, your conversation will remain private.

There are a couple exceptions to this. First, law enforcement agencies have a device called Stingray that mimics a cellphone tower, tricking a target cell phone into connecting to it. Once connected to the Stingray device, conversations can be monitored. However, these devices are very expensive (hundreds of thousands of dollars) and not available on the open market. Plus, you need to be in very close proximity to the target phone to have it connect.

Second, older cordless phones (not cellular) phones transmit analog signals that are very easy to intercept. Perhaps this is what happened in the case you are referring to? Though again, you would need to be in very close proximity to the cordless phone to intercept it.

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Texts not visible to me but are sent

From Stephen on November 02, 2013 :: 9:37 am

Hi I am using a nokia lumia wp8 and I suspect my sister in law is spying on me,  last week my phone wouldn’t show my texts MSG even though they were being sent and any received, I could part read on the notification screen but when I press open they are not in the text messages so I cannot see what they have said.
Its only when I sent a specific text msg calling her out,  my phone is working again.
You see the sim was her sisters and her dad had also used it but now I have it, she could easily impersonate the billing holder as she is her sister, but I just want to know if the missing texts is a sign I was spied on?

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Some apps...

From Tomas Kosek on December 21, 2013 :: 7:40 am

Hey guys, there are assholes, who will plant this aplication in system - factory reset will not delete it, so if your smartphone acts weird after factory reset, backup all, download your Android version on your PC, move it on SDcard, then on your phone make Factory reser AND FORMAT /SYSTEM and install the android on your SDcard again… but now, without the spying aplication (For example: Cyberius is security aplication what can be moved to the system, so it will be still there after factory reset. But people can use Cyberius to spy on you too. It tooks 5min to install it on your phone ) You better lock your phone with passcode wink

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Do you have a link?

From Josh Kirschner on December 21, 2013 :: 1:58 pm

Hi Tomas,

Do you have a link for more information on Cyberius? I can’t find anything on it and I’m curious to see how (and if) it avoids deletion on factory reset.

Thanks,
Josh

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Yes I do :P

From Tomas Kosek on January 14, 2014 :: 9:32 am

Sorry, my fault. It’s called Cerberus :D
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.lsdroid.cerberus&hl=cs
If you have rooted phone, you can put this app in /system - it will be still there after full wipe or factory reset
Sorry for very slow response..
-Tom

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That is scary

From Josh Kirschner on January 31, 2014 :: 4:59 pm

Tom, Thanks for bringing Cerberus to my attention. It is definitely the scariest app I’m aware of that’s currently available in Google Play. Worse, I tested numerous antimawlare apps against it - McAfee, Norton, Lookout, Avast, ESET, Kaspersky, Trend Micro - and they all failed. Only TrustGo and AVG appropriatly flagged it as a serious risk.

I’m following up with the security vendors to determine why they’re continuing to miss such obvious risks.

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yeah but the assholes look over your shoulder

From kitty on March 29, 2014 :: 2:53 pm

and you don’t notice them eye balling your passcode to get into your phone.  I hate F@*ked up people.  There’s so many scams going today it’s just too much to ever think you’re ahead of this prey on people game with their privacy and personal info.  Some do it cuz they have no life.  others because they have no life, love 3 hots & a cot & just enough skill to steal & fraud others usually people they cling onto and call friend…., then theres cops that get a hard on for you and you aren’t even the right guy.  Then theres everyone else…google big time plus….your local home improvement store that tracks how long you shop.  you can run but you can’t hide.  every traffic light where i live has a camera on it to watch the traffic flow they say…right?  can’t even take cops on a wild chase through a town anymore n get away with it.  not that i would.  not my thing.  I can log into a site that shows me cameras on 101 freeway and I can tell who my friend is bringing to my house cuz I’ll see her car driving down to my house.

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To Tomas re: Cyberious

From Jackie on November 29, 2015 :: 5:44 pm

How can I know if Cyberius is on my phone?  It’s Android Samsung Core Prime.

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Avoid getting Spied by these settings

From Jack on December 23, 2013 :: 7:26 am

Just disable location services to off…
No one can hack your phone..If its on..Then anyone can and its easy and even kids can…
I know this blog is old but its going to help many who doesn’t know.
In iphone its under settings—> privacy—> Location services.
Not sure about android setting to disable location service.
Please set your location service to off.. the hacker only gets through your phone if its on.

Hope that helps.. Please let me know if you need any other help.

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frequent locations

From kitty on March 29, 2014 :: 2:38 pm

not too many people know about the logging of where people go most.  you gotta dig a little for this.  i can’t find it in iPad just iPhone running latest software iOS 7.1   it’s in settings under privacy under location services> scroll to very bottom and it’s there under system services> scroll once in system services and it’s at bottom of that page.  it will tell you where you go most times you’re away from home.  if that scares you then TURN IT OFF.  It is very accurate.

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Avoid getting your contacts details spied..

From Jack on December 23, 2013 :: 7:33 am

Just adding to my last post..
Under the same setting location in iPhone you will find contact just below location service.

Check which app is using your contact details..JUst block them in using your contact details, never allow them to use your contact details..

It has helped many .. it may help you as well..

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I know I'm not crazy

From kymykat on December 28, 2013 :: 4:39 am

I will admit to being Just dumb n in love with a complete charming pyscopath.  where do I begin?  My house is now bugged by my EX and his friends.  Criminals.  I just pieced together some things.  Still some things need more info to prove.  But he has hacked my iphone5s, my email accounts.  He knows all of my personal info and even has a new lil criminal chick who looks just like me down to the hair style.  And they come into my house and my neighbors just think it’s me with him.  I just heard about this from neighbor who said “Hey how come you didn’t go out of town last weekend?”  But I did go out of town.  And I haven’t seen or been with EX in two weeks.  He shouldn’t be around.  I did reset of my iphone5 2 weeks ago and changed passwords and apple ID.  And it just started happening again.  My phone acting weird.  a lot of data used when I know my phones not in use.  I bought a volt electric/gas powered car that has onstar on it and he got his hands on it one night before our break up and he was able to program it so he knew where my car is at.  the key (one of two keys) came up missing after my last night with him.  The other day the car was on when I went outside to get in it.  He can do that from his phone after hacking my account with onstar.  My computer shows remote activity in logs messages.  I am going to take in to apple store.  Him and his friends have nothing better to do than to spy on people….even use their personal info for their own gain.  My most recent case of ID fraud I can’t yet prove but I’m sure it’s him.  My phone is used as a listening device for him.  Even my home phone as well.  My home alarm him and his friends messed with til it’s no good n I don’t use it any longer.  I need solid proof though of credit fraud.  I need people who have answers.  Any ideas on what to do?

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sorry about my typos n misspelled words.

From kymykat on December 28, 2013 :: 4:42 am

i forgot to go back n do spell check.  I have to run. forgive me!!!!!  LOL please.

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Roommates had TOTAL access to my AT&T Galaxy S4.

From Levi on January 07, 2014 :: 2:57 pm

I live with three other dudes. One of them is very “techy” with smart phones. He can root an android phone in his sleep and has written for small tech websites on the past. He helped me root and (unsucessfully) install a version of Cyanogenmod on my phone. His S4 was from Verizon so the rooting process was a little bit different. I couldn’t get the nightly updates because my root instalation was a bit wonky, so I was using old firmware for quite a while.

This roommate of mine has told me about using spy techniques on other people’s phone before. He said he’d only do it to someone he hated.

I fully believe my roommates had compete access to my SMS, microphones, cameras, and Web browsing history. I was using another roommate’s wifi almost all the time.

I could hear them laughing and reacting to what ever I was texting my girlfriend as I was typing it. I would type a whole message, hear them reading it out loud though the wall, then delete it and wrote something else completely. I would scroll up through the convo and hear them reading out loud and talking about what my girlfriend and I were discussing.

I would cover up my phone and set it down on the ground and would hear them react to what I was doing. As soon as I open the door to my room, I would see my techy roommate’s door slam, then I would talk to my other roommates (who were AWFUL Liars.)

I since factory reset my phone, so I’m on Samsung’s stock Touchwiz 4.3 Android now. I want to prove that this was happening and press charges and ruin their lives. I know they were all in on it.

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I think you're out of luck

From Josh Kirschner on January 14, 2014 :: 3:22 am

It’s very hard to get police interested in these types of crimes because they’re very difficult to prove. Even if they found spyware on your phone, how would they know who put it there?

In any case, since you’ve factory reset the phone, whatever spyware was on there is likely gone now. Perhaps before the phone was reset you could have contacted an attorney and tried to work out a “sting” that would have proven they had access to the information on your device. But sounds like a lot of work in the hopes of proving your roomates are jerks.

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sim card

From brad on July 31, 2015 :: 8:11 am

Will replacing sim card stop any hacking / bugging ?

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No

From Josh Kirschner on July 31, 2015 :: 10:28 am

The spying apps we’ve used operate independently of the SIM card. Unless it is the SIM card itself which has been cloned (far rarer these days), changing the SIM card will have no impact.

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cell detective Information *DOES* exist

From MyDogIsSmarterThanMe on January 11, 2014 :: 8:23 am

I have my Masters in Information Security.

Robert, Josh Kirschner, unfortunately there *IS* scam software out there—I don’t know this one.

However YES it is possible to spy on your phone without physical access to it and *NO* I’m not going to say how. It is of course *ILLEGAL* in the United States.

The only I’m POSITIVE OF (which Ironically is the most “dangerous” and “Intrusive” is to find your precise location if you have GPS/or Phone turned on).

Just so you know I’m not saying this to be a “Boogey Man”, if you simply Google List of Cell Phone towers (then your City name)

There’s 1000’s and 1000’s of sites out there that list EXACT GEODATA where cell phone Towers are.

THESE ARE *VERY LEGAL* AND HAVE *VERY VALID* reasons to exist. *YOU* can use to see if you are in a “Dead Zone” or low coverage for the area you live in by provider,etc.

Programmers making Software can use it to determine if it’s your phone/the cell,etc. To look through Error Logs. etc.

The reason these ILLEGAL (tracking sites) can’t be shut down is they are not American Made sites.

I have a previous post pending moderation, however, to let you know *NEVER EVER EVER* give someone your IEMI# for your phone or ICCID#
IEMI# is like a SSN# it unique (in the *WORLD* to you and *THAT PHONE* (or whoever registered that phone)

To give you an IDEA, IEMI# is 14-Digits
The ICCIDI# is 20-Digits

Of course all of those digits have “Meaning”
It reveals the phone model/make/carrier/who you are,etc.

ALSO—-THOSE SITES ARE ALL OVER THE WEB—-I WOULD FIRMLY SUGGEST TO *NOT* put yours into the site to “verify” what it shows, 95% plus chance the site could be harvesting Data (for nefarious or otherwise reasons).

The *ONLY* time you want to use a site like that (You’ll see in my other post) is if purchasing a used phone over the web. It reveals if the Phone has been reported stolen,etc. AS well.

**

But, to answer your question. Yes, it’s possible. Not all the phone data is out there, I’ve not even tried the site as don’t want to get myself in trouble.

I will tell you simply having your phone number, allows a nefarious person, to “mine” the right places for what I’ve said above.
Think about it, we live in a world of *EVERYTHING* AND i DO MEAN *EVERYTHING* IS IN A DATABASE SOMEWHERE.
***********************************
Here is just but *ONE* person was able to create (using Statistical Modeling—wityout your “true personal” data).

From the *MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW*
http://www.technologyreview.com/news/514351/has-big-data-made-anonymity-impossible/

TAKE VERY SPEICIAL NOTE—-THE VERY LOW AMOUNT OF PHONES THEY HAD TO TRACK THE “BIG DATA” CAME IN LOOKING AT EVERY SINGLE DATA POINT BY SECOND WHERE THEY WERE

They can tell with an *ABOVE 80-PERCENT ACCURACY*—80-WEEKS IN ADVANCE Where you will be. ORWELLIAN HUH?


QUOTE: showed they could predict a person’s approximate location up to 80 weeks into the future, at an accuracy of above 80 percent. To get there, the pair mined what they described as a “massive data set” collecting 32,000 days of GPS readings taken from 307 people and 396 vehicles.

***
Thus one *VERY EASY* front line protection *NEVER* give out your “Personal Phone Number” to someone who does not need it.

There’s plenty of services out there. My apology, I only have “Brand Names”——I’m neither supporting them (or associated with them) but so you can Google for it for you to decide.

Apps like “BURNER” are for VERY TEMPORARY (2-3-4 month reasons), you’re buying/selling something on Craigslist,etc.

I know they have other apps like this. But look for “Burn Number”/Temporary N Umber”—things like that

Another solution is Google Voice. THIS is something more “Permanent”. I use this if someone needs a “Work Number” or someone I know I’ll follow up with, but don’t want to use my private number.

Or “Masked Phone Numbers” (other key words)
only downfall to these is that once you give it out too much, then you might get calls you don’t want. Google Voice type app (and Burner type app) both allow Texting,etc.

Google Voice, if you don’t want them calling you again, you can “Block” the number and it will give them the “Number Disconnected”  (also cool is you can create a different Inbound V.M. based on each friend)

Finally make sure whatever App you use, gives you the *CHOICE* when you make an outbound call (like I use with Google Voice app) would you like to use GV number or your number….pick accordingly.

**  Stay cautious with personal info and it will be your best protection (above any app,etc.)

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Thanks for your comments

From Josh Kirschner on January 14, 2014 :: 3:17 am

Cell phone tower data is public, but it’s a big leap to go from there to getting access to and actually tracking the individual phone data from those towers. I also haven’t found a way for an individual to track a phone location via it’s IMEI. And, after considerable research, I have yet to verify and spyware that can be installed without physical access to a device (except location trackers, such as iCloud or Android device manager, which simply require user account access).

If you’re uncomfortable providing more information in the comments, please email me at josh at techlicious dot com with more info.

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Blank Mms as a install tool?

From Hottyjules on April 27, 2016 :: 8:18 pm

So is it possible for authorities to send a blank mms from a recovered phone to clone the persons phone that received the message?  If that happens, would you need to get a new Sim card? A new phone? A new account?

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