Is your phone spying on you? – March 2016

phonespy

Basic introduction to controlled electronic spying and surveillance:

Most people know by now that our governments, security agencies, police and even hired private investigators sometimes have access to record and listen to our calls, track our movements via GPS, read our emails and so on from the network and server side of our telecoms and internet services. Sometimes they are authorised, sometimes they can bend the rules to get what they feel they need.

In the UK, at least 3 years worth of voice calls can potentially be recorded and played back on demand by authorities which originated from your mobile phone or landline telephone. This duration of recording can be longer if currently under investigation, or that person is marked as a security risk. There is very little chance of you ever finding out what they know or keep, or if they go through your calls with a fine tooth comb without knowing the information from the inside. There is a very slim chance of the target ever knowing in their lifetime due to the careful selection of people that perform investigations and their high security practice & methods.

In the UK, GCHQ work with the NSA in America and have developed very powerful systems to record such information automatically on a worldwide scale. Should they need to investigate any one of us, they have the full backing of the law behind them to do so. How do we know if we can trust them to have that power? We don’t! People are always potentially corrupt, dishonest, criminal and can go against what is right. But it is generally accepted that it is regulated by supposedly trusted individuals and abuse of power if proven to be caused by them carries harsh legal penalties, which of course has proven to have happened, does happen and will always still happen.

When thinking about big brother vs your privacy or secrecy – I came to the conclusion myself that systems of control in this world I have to just accept and take on, knowing it will always be in one form or another, and that nothing I do will ever change it from existing, it has a very good reason to exist to keep us all safer and that openly protesting or being known to work against such powers can cost you everything.

My advice, take it or leave it, for the sake of a better chance of freedom and peace in your life is to go with accepting surveillance. Knowing we are always being monitored, be honest to others and yourself, know the law in the country you are in, don’t break it unless it’s a life or death situation and you are forced to, and refuse to knowingly help others break it.

You can still do everything correct legally your entire life and still be framed for something you didn’t do, so don’t presume the world should treat you well because you did well. Systems of every kind can be abused or incorrect. Minimise risk of being vulnerable in situations that could be misinterpreted as being your fault, but accept that there will always be an element of luck in your life and you will never be able to control it fully.

Now to the point of my article, a threat of security to consider:

But what if a regular person without the authority got access to your phone and they installed a spy application on it? It’s likely you would know that person if they asked to borrow your phone, but it could be that a stranger had a time-frame to use it while you left it on a table at a bar while you got a drink. There are many such spy applications now available to download, many are paid for services that can store all of the information about the target or email it to themselves, some of these applications are even free on a trial basis and would not cost someone anything to use it on any phone for the next 30 days. A common type of response I keep getting from law abiding, stable, rational, and intelligent people have responded to me on this subject, “Why would I care? I am not doing anything wrong or illegal, I have nothing to hide.” They would be very wrong to assume that, and it could be ignorance that puts their own safety or status at risk when they realise how dangerous it could be when used against them. You should accept that people are not always nice and there is good and evil. People that don’t think about the consequences of using powerful technology carelessly can easily become a victim.

The person who installed that software on your phone would have access to everything you said in voice calls, could see every letter you type with a key logger, get all of your passwords, steal your identity, be able to see or copy any photos taken or shared with you, know your exact location at any time (and therefore be able to burgle you without a challenge), read personal thoughts if you kept a secret diary, read notes, reminders, appointments, even look at your internet history of where you went and what you searched for. The list is just frightening of how much information could be collected about you. If you don’t think that is serious enough, let me remind you of your finances being at risk. If you do on-line banking from a smartphone, they could also steal all of your cash and leave you penniless, and even if you don’t have money they could potentially apply for loans and credit cards in your name. Hackers and online criminals these days go for your cash, they are no longer doing it for fun or to prove a point. Don’t presume that you will be safe without thinking about securing yourself, and changing behaviours as this crime against humanity is now popular and on the rise. Cyber crime should never be ignored and should become as important in your mind today as securing your property to prevent strangers from walking in. If you have ever been burgled, hacked or had your identity stolen, you will know that it’s a really terrible experience.

The reality is that it only takes a few minutes of time for someone to install software which can do this without you even knowing it. They could ask to borrow your phone and be sat opposite you, it could be your best friend who lies to you by saying they are sending a text to their partner, or checking their Facebook, or other excuses to get you to lend it to them and keep it long enough to install the hidden software program. If you have a smartphone, you should always protect it with a PIN number, password or security pattern that only you know. You should not let anyone else tamper with that phone, at any time, or lend it to anyone else for any reason at all, because potentially anyone you know or don’t know could use this technology against you at any time or place. Don’t presume in this day and age that such a temptation by others to have control over you, won’t ever happen to you, or you can trust them not to do this to you. When you realise how powerful they can be from it, you would be right to trust nobody with your phone ever again. I don’t.

How to reduce the risk of being a victim to this abuse of privacy:

The first golden rule of security, is physical security. My best security advice is to not trust anyone with any phone or computer you own or use with your personal information, including any member of your family (saying that upsets many people but in reality they are often the most likely culprits to invade other family member’s privacy, and the same goes for partners), and never let the phone out of your hand or sight when unlocked or even when you have it protected. There are many methods to get around different security measures of a phone if you know what you are doing with a laptop.

Keep that password or PIN you use to unlock it secret, so that only you know it, and if anyone does discover it by looking over your shoulder when typing it in, or filming you when unlocking it, get away from that person quickly and change it immediately whilst alone and unwatched, facing away from people and CCTV cameras if any are around you, this applies to changing and using the password. Use your other hand to cover your keyboard movements and screen keyboard entry if you can.

If it has fingerprint unlock, don’t add anyone else’s fingerprint to it so they can just help themselves to do anything they want, and keep it locked away when not being used at home, e.g. when you sleep and can’t defend someone else plugging it into a computer, switching it with another phone using your SIM or otherwise tampering with it, without your knowledge.

Another point worth thinking if your phone is fingerprint protected, is security while you sleep. Anyone you share that room with could use your own finger to access your fingerprint enabled password if they touched your phone to your finger. Most people would not wake up and know, especially if very tired or they had alcoholic drinks before they slept, so keep it in mind that it’s possible!

What this new technology allows anyone to now perform against anyone else is not just an invasion of privacy which is illegal and shocking in itself, it also gives that person a lot more information than they would normally know or that you would want them to know, and could therefore and potentially use the information against you that they gained and have considerable power over your life without your knowledge.

Information is power, and knowing how to protect yourself against this will prevent anyone else having that power over you. Don’t risk your freedom in others hands. The chances are if they do use this against you, it mostly won’t be good for you. Never underestimate how nosey and controlling people can be with electronic technology.

A parent using this application on their child may be a use of it that has good intentions if a parent worries about or can’t trust the actions of their children. The parent using this technology on their children in the eyes of the parent is correct, but in the eyes of the child, if they knew about it being used on them, would not accept it, argue about it, smash the phone up, not use it or find out how to remove it themselves. Don’t underestimate the intelligence that children have with computers and phones, including their ability to discover such techniques. If the child knew what their parent was doing using a spy app on them, they could never trust them again.

Examples of working phone spying applications you can test:

Want to see some examples of this technology? You don’t have to take my word for it, download and test it on your own phone to see how it works, how easy it is to install, the things it allows you to do and how well hidden it remains so the target is blissfully unaware of the security breach. The control that you now have over that phone is quite surprising the first time you see this type of spy application.

Example 1:- https://www.flexispy.com/

Example 2:- http://www.mobile-spy.com

Example 3:- https://www.trackmyfone.com

What if someone has already done this to me? Advice to prevent it:

If you ever suspect that your phone has already been tampered with, or the possibility of it being tampered with in the past could have been possible, I would recommend performing a full factory reset of the phone which will put the software of the phone back to how it was on the first day you bought it. Of course, back up your music, photos, videos and important texts and documents away from the phone that you want to keep, like to a computer, memory card or USB stick, but if you can’t trust the data either, start from scratch.

Only when you know that you are starting from a clean phone can you correctly presume it’s safe to use. Especially suspect it if it’s a 2nd hand phone or a borrowed phone, and if a person facilitating such a transaction is known to you or not. If you don’t know how to reset the phone, you should learn how to by reading the manual from the internet of that phone’s make and model that shows you step by step how to perform the reset. This is the safest way because it relies on no 3rd party and you know the phone is then clean and trustworthy. If you have a manual that came with the phone, read it.

If you can’t handle technology very well, and are not comfortable doing this yourself, you could take it to a phone shop to do this for you, but you should get them to show you as they do it, and slowly, not let the phone and the screen of what they are doing on your phone out of your sight, and get them to explain and show you every single action they perform, and when it’s reset, get it straight back from them and out of their possession.

Don’t ever pick a friend to advise you or help you do it due to the possibility that the person you ask for advice or help is already spying on you, or will use it as an opportunity to start spying on you themselves because they have now just been given the opportunity to tamper with your phone and you allowed it. They could reset the phone and then install their spy software before giving it back to you. Don’t presume anything or anyone should be trusted with your personal devices where your personal information is concerned.

Hardware Spy-Phones:

Also be aware that purpose built spy phones can have spy technology built into the hardware of the phone, so resetting the phone back to factory would make no difference and the person controlling that phone would have access regardless of software. Generally these phones are very expensive to buy and harder to find, but can just as easily be used against you if swapped with your phone, gifted to you for free or purchased by you 2nd hand.

If you have suspicions about the phone’s hardware, get a known trusted phone of the same make and model, give both that phone and your suspected one to an electronics hardware engineer, and have them compare both phones at circuit board level by taking them apart. Don’t trust firmware that runs the phone either, update your phone software and firmware updates if you suspect the operating system or chip level software is compromised in any way. Using internet search engines are the best way of teaching yourself how to do this.

Other security risks to consider:

What goes beyond the scope of this article, but should also be considered are the apps that you choose to install, that could be used by the companies that wrote them to have access to your personal information or lifestyle habits as a result of you loading those applications. The same applies to any internet site you visit, or a link you could click on in an email or text message which could compromise the security of your phone if malicious.

Even the manufacturer of the phone who wrote the software for that phone could be spying on their users by design from the start. If you receive it brand new from a trusted source, not tampered with, shrink wrapped, security seal intact, the creators of that device could still be using your information to their advantage and without your knowledge. Research what others have found, tips for stopping known data collection techniques and tips for securing the phone against the most common attacks if you can find the time to.

About the author:

This article was written in March 2016 and are entirely the thoughts and opinions of http://www.GlennRoast.com

You can send feedback to me by emailing me from the email address on my main website if you wish. Congratulate me, agree with me, disagree with me, educate me, correct me, argue with me, but remember I am free to say what I want regardless of you agreeing with me or disagreeing. Nobody can ever please everyone, which is massively magnified when the audience is worldwide for anyone to comment on. I accept that fact, but trolls don’t control my thoughts.

My intentions are for you to share or use my articles freely but responsibly. I can’t stop anyone from using information I share with the world in the wrong way, but I believe in Karma and natural order has a way of providing it’s own rewards and consequences for good and bad actions that people decide to use any information with.

If you use my work for an essay, blog, journal, dissertation etc, quote me as a source or don’t, I really don’t care, and won’t be offended if you have to show your sources or want to hide them. Life from my point of view is too short to worry about such bragging right nonsense about who originally said and thought what, and I believe information should be free and unrestricted for the benefit of all. I have used plenty of other peoples knowledge all of my life but not to step on anyone’s toes when I use that information.

An example of where I draw the line, is that I don’t mind others progressing themselves with information I provide, as long as it’s not going to affect me financially or morally. When I would not be good with someone taking the credit for my work would be someone I work with in my career at the same company as me or a team member getting a promotion instead of myself, for something I did and they didn’t. It takes the reward out of that shared budget and I treat that as unforgivable and treacherous from equals or superiors alike. I have been known to communicate this in my past jobs and I still will regardless of how unpopular it has made my position in the past with anyone. I will always stand by that one, and if you don’t like it, don’t bother firing me, I resign! If you can accept that, I’m happy.

My articles on this site are not copyrighted or restricted in any way and never will be. They are also written in my own spare time on my own computers and my own private internet connection so can’t ever be contested by anyone as the intellectual property of any company I happen to work for past, present or future. How I like to feel in myself is to have my right to free speech without censorship and that extends to any person, company or country on the planet saying how I should think, act and communicate. I decide that alone.

And to end the article, here’s a good security quote to think about:

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”

~ Joseph Heller

4 thoughts on “Is your phone spying on you? – March 2016”

  1. Just want to say your article is as astounding. The clarity to
    your publish is just cool and that i can assume you are an expert on this subject.
    Well with your permission allow me to clutch your RSS feed to stay up to date with forthcoming
    post. Thanks a million and please continue the enjoyable work.

    1. Thanks very much! I aim to please. I have studied security for 30 years, but have picked a subject that is changing so rapidly, just when you thought you were an expert, the goal posts change! It’s good to always keep studying security as it’s ever changing, so you need to stay well informed of new developments all of the time. You are more than welcome to grab my RSS feed anytime. I am looking forward to writing a 2nd interesting article on information security again soon 🙂 Glenn Roast

  2. I’m curious tto find out what blog platform yⲟu are ᥙsing?I’m experienxing some minor securfity isasues ԝith
    my ⅼatest blog and I ѡould ⅼike to ffind somеtɦing morе risk-free.
    ᗪo ʏou have any recommendations?

    1. I use a jailbroken iPhone and moved away from Android a year ago. Used to always be a fan of past jailbroken iphones!
      I use Windows 10 on my laptop, iPhone 6s plus 128GB on ios 9.0.2 which is the last jailbreakable version.
      Blog platform I use is WordPress. I have wordpress built into my hosting which I use with the roasty.co.uk domain
      I can update my wordpress when there is one, it lets me know, and that keeps it secure. I remove unwanted templates too.
      Risk free is the more expensive hardware modified phones, spy software would never be found on them, but I haven’t seen an iPhone offering like that yet. But to recommend software, this one records all voice calls and works accross 15 messenger apps: https://www.flexispy.com/

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