One of the main reasons I got into information security was a concern for privacy. Luckily, this is because of my worries in regard to the Internet of Things, Big Brother, blah blah blah… luckily because there’s so many women (and people) out there unaware their privacy is being breached everyday. And no, I don’t mean by the FBI agent in behind their webcam. I’m talking about people spying on their partners – and the kind of people like you who are questioning if your partner is spying on your iPhone.
Now, recently, a popular technology blog released an article on “How to Spy on My Wife’s Phone” which sparked outrage on Twitter. However, this article is one of many. Simply search that headline in your browser and you’ll find pages and pages of websites with stalker and spyware! It’s not cool.
You may be asking yourself can someone spy on my iPhone? And the answer is yes. We are all susceptible to being spied upon and you may only notice if you’re paying attention.
What is Mobile Spyware?
Mobile spyware, otherwise known as stalkerware, is an app or software that someone can download onto your phone to track or monitor you. They can share detailed information about your phone activities – like phone conversations, text and email messages, photos, and account passwords – without your knowledge. Some spyware apps also 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 in use.
How to Tell if Someone is Spying on Your iPhone
Before you start pointing fingers or tearing your phone apart, let’s determine if someone is actually spying on your iPhone. If someone is spying on your phone you’ll notice some changes, or symptoms, to indicate an attack. The most common effects of spyware are the following:
- Abnormally High Data Usage
- Deteriorating Battery Life
- Difficulty Shutting Down your Phone
- Signs of Activity Whilst in Standby
- Unexpected Reboots
- Unexpected Text Messages
- Weird Sounds During Calls
- Your Phone is Slowing Down
Who is Spying on You?
There’s two scenarios when questioning if someone is spying on you: you suspect that someone you know is spying on you, or you think a hacker has gained access to your phone. If you’re in the latter group and want rid of the random spy on your phone, you can skip to the next section.
What I need you to consider is how safe you will be if you simply delete the spyware. This is very often used by domestic abusers, and right now I’d rather have you stalked and safe rather than hurt. Rather than clearing your current device, try and get another phone but continue to use the original as you have been doing. Nothing is more suspicious than you suddenly stopping using your phone when you normally spend hours a day on it!
Whatever you do, get help. Law enforcement and domestic violence advocates can help you if you believe a stalking app has been installed on your phone.
How to Clean your iPhone from Spyware
Firstly, before I suggest wiping your device – because I am going to – check your phone and computer for common spying apps. This way, you could be able to delete the spyware right at the source. Some common stalkerware applications include:
- Hidden Spy App
- Highster Mobile
If you come across any of these applications, or others with similar, suspicious names, then you’ve at least identified the problem. However, it may not be as simple as deleting the application. You could research the application for spyware removal methods or, much more easily, wipe your device. I suggest the latter.
To remove spyware from your phone, or block someone from tracking you as well, completely wipe your device by resetting your phone to factory settings. This may seem like deleting half your life, but you can backup your photos and contacts before the wipe. You can reinstall and keep everything you know is safe. Everything else though? Get rid.
You will also want to regularly update your phone for security patches. This way any methods which previously allowed someone to spy on you may no longer be available.
How to Block your Phone from Being Tracked
Even with malicious apps and spyware removed, can you still be tracked? Short answer: yes.
Any application that has permission to use your location could be used to track you, from Snapchat to Fitness apps. So you’ll want to consider turning off geolocation services and removing location data from social media platforms.