Phone spying is a real and growing concern in the new millennium. It’s time to take the necessary steps for you to secure your phone and keep your data safe. Read this article and see how you can keep yourself safe.
In this article:
- What Is Phone Spying?
- Who Is Susceptible to Phone Spying?
- Who Could Be Spying on My Phone?
- What Could Someone Gain from Spying on Me?
- How Do I Prevent Camera Spying?
- What Are the Signs of Phone Spying?
- How Do I Prevent Phone Spying?
- What is Being Done to Prevent Phone Spying?
- Are There Phones That Are Immune to Spying?
- How Can I Help Other People Defend Their Gadgets From Spying?
Cybersecurity 101 | Phone Spying FAQs
1. What Is Phone Spying?
Phone spying is the act of accessing someone’s smartphone for the purpose of spying on them. Smartphones have taken over space where our personal computers used to be. These phones are able to do pretty much everything we want them to, such as communicate, shop, explore, bank, and more.
This is why smartphones are often used for at least 6-8 hours a day and are constantly within sight of us. This makes smartphones highly prized targets for spying.
The ways people can spy on your phone are too many to mention, but here are some things that you should be concerned about:
- Reading all your messages without your permission
- Keyloggers keeping track of everything you type into your phone, even passwords
- Access to your photo gallery and all the metadata in it
- Access to your phone’s GPS, giving people the means to track you wherever you go
- Listening in on your phone conversations (or just you), thanks to microphone access
- The possibility of losing money through your phone banking software
- Identity theft using details you have on your smartphone
2. Who Is Susceptible to Phone Spying?
When it comes to cell phone surveillance, absolutely everyone is susceptible. Everyone from the top of the pyramid to the average Joe is in danger of their data being exposed and stolen. Everyone with a smartphone is prone to having their daily lives spied upon. The fast advance of technology every year opens more vulnerabilities to exploit. This makes it even more of a case to start securing your device against spying.
3. Who Could Be Spying on My Phone?
There are services on the internet that allow people to monitor someone without installing any kind of software on their target’s phones. A lot of unsavory black hat hackers have figured out how to hack a mobile phone by a computer program. It is honestly very easy to learn how to hack someone’s phone without touching it.
For example, social media apps are always asking for device permissions when you install them. These include, but are not limited to, access to your files, camera, microphone, and keyboard. While they may not sound like much, this opens your phone to be vulnerable to surveillance from these apps. This means, essentially, that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other services you may use have the right to listen in on you anytime they want. Facebook, for example, definitely is.
4. What Could Someone Gain from Spying on Me?
Pretty much everything we do these days, we do on our smartphones. All your correspondence, banking, and media consumption are done mostly through your phone now. And that’s okay — technology has advanced to the point where a phone is almost always enough. However, this also opens up a lot of possibilities for your data to be taken advantage of.
An easy gain someone could achieve from spying on you is stealing your identity. Identity theft is a real and serious risk for everyone. Imagine someone taking your name, opening accounts, and taking out loans and then running away with them? You will be left hanging with this, and it’ll be hard to catch the identity thief. What you would gain from such an exchange is a ton of debt and no means to pay for it at all.
Hackers will also be on the lookout for your private details. Photos, videos, messages, e-mails… a lot of these can contain private, sensitive information that you’d rather keep to yourself. However, a remote cell phone spy can always pull up these sensitive items and use them against you, either for blackmail or to expose your secrets. Feeling that 1984 yet?
5. How Do I Prevent Camera Spying?
Camera and webcam spying has been around for a long time. Edward Snowden famously revealed the “Optic Nerves” operation, an NSA program that spied on people’s phones and webcams, taking pictures at 5-minute intervals. This is proof enough that if the government has been doing this for a while, a lot of other people already know how to do it themselves.
The scariest thing about camera spying is you may never know when it is happening. It’s true that while your phone or your laptop’s camera spends most of its time in your pocket or in a bag, you never really know if you’re safe when you take it out.
The best way to prevent camera spying is, ironically, by covering the camera. For example, lay some tape over your laptop camera to prevent it from seeing you when not in use. Only remove it if you absolutely have to have that webcam call. As for your phone, it’s very hard to hide your cameras. Download a useful antivirus app and only use your cameras over a secure internet connection. Never click any suspicious links or chat with strangers online.
6. What Are the Signs of Phone Spying?
This very real danger has some telltale signs that can help you prevent phone spying. If any of these apply to you, your phone might be compromised:
- Phone activity even during standby
- Phone battery drains fast even without the excessive use
- 24/7 increased heat on the back of your smartphone
- Increased mobile data usage
7. How Do I Prevent Phone Spying?
To prevent your phone from being compromised, it is recommended that you download a reliable antivirus for your phone to help you get rid of any existing spyware. Additionally, take these tips and apply them right now on your phone:
- Use a VPN
- Use anti-malware apps
- Use encryption software
- Always change your passwords
8. What is Being Done to Prevent Phone Spying?
Tech companies are always making strides to ensure that their customers get as secure a device as possible. Android and iOS developers are constantly upgrading and reinventing their security software to adapt to the changing surveillance landscape every day. This is why it’s important to consistently check for updates to your gadget’s operating system. Be on the lookout for announcements from tech companies about system updates they’ll be releasing.
9. Are There Phones That Are Immune to Spying?
We can never truly say if phones will ever be immune to hacking. The more people depend on their smartphones, the more it will be tough to truly secure them. However, there is at least one phone that is currently in development that wants to deliver that promise. The Librem 5 by Purism is a phone that is built from the ground up to be a highly-secure phone that protects your privacy. It runs on PureOS, a Linux build, and does not use Android or iOS.
Hopes are high that Purism can deliver because of the Librem 15, their security-focused laptop that runs on the same PureOS. However, it might be difficult to find the apps you want on this phone as it does not support the more popular iOS and Android file formats. Of course, only time will tell if developers sign on and start building apps for the PureOS.
10. How Can I Help Other People Defend Their Gadgets From Spying?
The best way to help other people defend their gadgets from spying on them is by raising awareness. The media is already covering a lot of the security problems that modern smartphones experience. However, it’s better for the people around you to hear about the virtues of securing their phones and laptops from someone they know and trust. If you learn about a new scam or virus that might potentially put someone’s gadget at risk, let them know so they can step up security on their gadget.
This TED Talk by Christopher Soghoian teaches you how to avoid surveillance with your very own smartphone:
Security is a growing concern in today’s digital landscape and it’s truly alarming how hackers can monitor someone even without installing software or even physically touching that person’s phone. The more people depend on their phones, the higher the risk of hacking and phone spying. However, if you stay vigilant and secure your own data, you’ll find that you’ll have nothing to worry about. Share this article to your friends and family and let them know that they need to start taking the necessary steps to make sure they stay safe.
What security features did you use on your phone? Let us know in the comments section.
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