Is Your Cell Phone Bugged?

By Steve McFarlane

From secretly monitoring a person’s calls, to being able to download all the pictures and video they record with the phone, the capabilities of cell phone spy software is remarkable and frightening. But what do you do if one suspects that they are being spied on.

Though the providers of cell phone tapping software often insist that they do what they can to encourage their customers to use their spy software legally, and in a socially responsible manner, there is little they can do to prevent their solutions from being used in corporate espionage, and for the purpose of stalking people. In fact, once Spyware is installed onto a phone, all the text messages, pictures taken, videos shot, calendar entries, incoming and outgoing calls, and GPS coordinates can be tracked without the cell phone owner knowing it.

The top commercial spyware vendors (FlexiSPY, MobiStealth, and Mobile Spy) market their solutions as an easy way to monitor employees, spy on a cheating partner (spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend) or monitor a child’s cell phone. There is no doubt that they offer some pretty impressive spy solutions. For example Mobistealth PRO-X can:

  • Secretly record calls
  • Provide on demand room monitoring
  • Secretly Retrieve pictures & videos
  • GPS cell phone tracking
  • Intercept text message
  • Call history (with call duration)
  • Give notification of a SIM change

Determining if your cell phone is Bugged

While MobiStealth and other Android spy software vendors say that they do what they can to discourage the inappropriate use of their solutions, but the truth is that there is no way of knowing if app is being used to legally track company assets or child’s cell phone.  The bad news for victims is that it isn’t easy for them to tell if their cell phone is bugged. That’s because spy apps are virtually undetectable to the average user. Typical there is no corresponding application icon, or menu option that would tip off a-would-be victim. At best, the spy app would have a generically named app like “Android app” so that is appears as a regular part of the phone’s system.

Removing and Blocking Cell Phone Spyware

If you suspect that your phone has been compromised, the best thing to do is to take it to Cyber Forensics professional who can verify your suspicions and remove the cell phone spy app if one is installed. It is worth noting that simply removing the SIM card will not help in most cases. In fact, some mobile spy software (i.e. MobiStealth) will even send a message informing that you changed the SIM, but will continue to monitor you as it did before.

The best cure is prevention though. Since the more common cell phone spyware require about 10 –15 minutes of physical access to install, you can keep your phone from being compromised by ensuring that you keep it physically secure at all times. Sadly enough, there is software that can be installed remotely, without the owner’s permission. While this is illegally, it is indeed technically possible. To safe guard against these threats you will need to

  1. Install a good Android anti spyware application
  2. Set you OS to require a password to install new applications
  3. Set your phone to auto-lock when not in use (Settings -> Location & Security)
  4. Properly administrate the permission that is given to installed applications

Tip: Acquire a new phone and installed your old SIM card into it if you suspect that there is Spyware installed on your old cell phone, at least until you sort out the old phone.

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4 Responses to “Is Your Cell Phone Bugged?”

Jack

Great article. I would add that if you suspect someone has bugged your phone you should back up your important data, perform a factory reset including the internal SD when applicable and then password protect your device.

Steve McFarlane

Thanks for the contribution Jack. Backing up your data is always a good idea.

Linda Kay

I woke up to see my phone texting on it’s own in the middle of the night after hearing a clicking sound. Took it to Sprint and they reset the phone. Then a couple of months later, I awoke to find my pictures scrolling by themself. Is this a sign my phone is bugged. Sprint has no answer for me and says it is highly unlikely my phone is bugged. However, I have had rapid decreases in my battery life and my phone has been hot to touch when it has not been used.

Don

Great tips on how to check if mobile phone is bugged! Now I can check my own phone to make sure that no spy software is installed.

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