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Mobile Spyware

Do you think someone is monitoring you through your phone? They might be using stalking apps (spyware) that secretly track your devices.The following will tell you what stalking apps are, how to tell if they’re on your device, and what to do if they are.

What are stalking apps?

Stalking applications are apps or software that someone can download onto your phone to track or monitor you. They can share detailed information about activities that took place on your phone – like phone conversations, text and email messages, photos, and even account passwords – without your knowledge. Some stalking apps advertise that they can turn on a phone’s microphone and camera remotely so that the monitoring person can see and hear what’s happening around the phone, even when it’s not being used.

How do I know a stalking app is installed?

If mobile spyware is installed, your phone will probably look the same. No new icons will show up, and most anti-virus software won’t detect it. But these clues may suggest that a stalking app could have been installed:

  • The abuser had had physical access to your phone;
  • The abuser knows a lot of very specific information about you, including your exact locations, the content of conversations you’ve had, what you’ve texted and to whom, and what you’ve searched for online
  • The phone’s battery drains faster, without any difference in your phone usage;
  • There are unexplained data usage charges on your bill; or
  • You have trouble turning off your phone

What can I do if I think a stalking app is installed on my phone?

If there’s a mobile spyware on your phone, here are some steps to consider:

  • Get help. Law enforcement and domestic violence advocates can help you if you believe a stalking app has been installed on your phone.
  • Check to see if your phone has been “rooted” or “jailbroken.” Stalking apps aren’t sold through typical app stores. In addition, they can usually only be installed on a phone that has been “rooted” or “jailbroken,” which allows a person full control over the phone’s operating system. If your phone is rooted or jailbroken and you didn’t do it, a stalking app could be installed. ‘Root checker” apps can quickly tell you whether a phone has been rooted or jailbroken.
  • Back up your phone. Before making any changes to your phone, considering backing it up, which could help to save any potential evidence of abusive behavior. Local law enforcement may be able to help you to preserve evidence. However, do not sync your backup to a new phone, to prevent the mobile spyware from reinstalling.
  • Reset your phone. The only way to effectively remove a stalking app from a phone is to reset it and reinstall the manufacturer’s operating system.

Remember you could possibly tip-off your abusers while trying to sort out your phone. Especially if you use your phone to research your options, make a call, or have a conversation near your phone. If you are concerned your phone might be monitored, consider leaving it behind when you are seeking help. Do what is best in your particular situation.