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Cellphone Spyware

Date : 12/07/2015

What is Cellphone Spyware?

Cellular Spyware is basically "phone surveillance". It is an app that has usually been installed by a third party on a cell phone that allows them to listen to or record conversations, track location and monitor all the data of the cell phone that it is installed on.

Below is a list of the basic features of a cellphone spyware application:
  • Monitoring Text Messages. You can read the actual contents of the text messages and view the time and date stamps.
  • Call Logs. Logs are created detailing every call made and received including phone numbers, times and duration of each call.
  • Listing of all websites visited.
  • Track the cell phone in real time. You can view where the phone is on a map and see any recent movement of the phone.
  • Monitor e-mails sent and received. You can read the contents and the details such as the sender, date sent, etc.
  • Monitor Data stored on the Phone. You can view videos, photos, contacts and calendar entries.

More expensive and advanced features include:

Call recording. You can record voice calls made or received by the target cell phone. You can also download the recordings and keep them for playback later.

Monitor chats and messages. You can monitor services like iMessage, BB Messenger and others.
Record surroundings. You can activate the microphone on the target phone to record and hear what is going on in the immediate area.

Remote Controls. You can remotely control different features of the target phone such as locking and unlocking the phone, and starting or pausing the spyware app.  You can also view and block access to an app installed on the phone, or wipe out all of the data from the phone.

Alerts. You can get an instant alert if certain trigger words or phone numbers are used.

Why Do People Use Cellphone Spyware?

Today it is getting more common for people in romantic relationships or married couples to use the phone to spy on their partner. They want to make sure their significant other isn't cheating on them or lying about where s/he says they are going.  

Parents sometimes use cellular spyware to learn about their child's call information, websites visited, text message activities, photos taken, and GPS location. They can also restrict certain activities of the phone with a variety of parental controls.
Companies also use cellular spyware that allow them to track employee cell phones provided by the company. They can use it to track employees on the road or use it to monitor employees who they feel may be abusing the privileges of texting and calling or to see if the employee is using the phone for disallowed or inappropriate activities.

Is Cellphone Spyware legal?

For the most part, spyware is legal to sell and use, but there are certain conditions that must be met or you could face heavy fines or jail time if caught.  Below are some basic guidelines of when you can and can't use cellphone spyware legally:

If you own or have legal authority over the target phone, it is legal to install the software. However, you must inform any adult user of that phone that they are being monitored. Also, in some states, if you are recording phone conversations, you must let both parties know they are being monitored or it is illegal.

If you install spyware on an adult's cell phone that you do not own, it is against the law, unless you get permission from the person who owns the phone to install the app and let them know you are monitoring them.  

Companies that use cellular spyware must inform their employees that their company cell phone may be monitored. Most of them will get a signed affidavit from the employee agreeing that they understand the phone is monitored.

It is perfectly legal to monitor your own minor children's cell phones, without notifying them, as you are responsible for their care and safety.

What it basically boils down to is this...it is your responsibility to use the software legally, so if in doubt get professional legal advice.

How can I tell if my cellphone has spyware installed on it?

There are some signs that may alert you that your cell phone is being tracked, tapped or monitored in some way.  Some of the more common signs are listed below:
  • Shortened Battery Life - Watch for any sudden changes in your battery life, especially if you have to charge it more often.
  • Phone Behavior - Watch for strange things that you may have recently noticed like your phone making random beeping noises or lighting up when you are not using it?
  • Shutting Off - If you've had your cell phone shut down even though the battery is charged it may be due to spyware.
  • Background Noise - Some call listening and recording features of spyware can cause static, clicking, beeping or other noises in the background when using your phone.
  • Receiving Strange Texts - Some spyware works by sending secret coded text messages containing random numbers, symbols or characters. In some cases, the app may have a glitch where it can be seen by the phone user.
  • Increased Data Usage - Watch for any unexplained increase in your monthly data usage, as some spyware uses extra data to send the information collected from your phone to the monitoring computer.

If you have noticed any of these signs and are suspicious that your cell phone has spyware on it, call ICS. One of our investigators will work with you to see if there is any spyware on your phone, and remove the malicious software for you if found.

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