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Spy On This!: Spyware Can Be Installed Remotely On Your Cell Phone

Updated on January 3, 2013

Mobile Spyware

Although mobile spyware isn't new, it has increased in popularity, and is wreaking havoc on the lives of people who unwittingly have spyware installed on their phone. Touted as a means to detect a cheating spouse, or to keep track of kids, mobile spyware has become a powerful tool to keep tabs on anyone, for anything and any reason. I am not a spyware aficionado, I am however, a pissed off consumer, who is angered that my privacy, and my right to it can be compromised for as little as $5.95. Well, the price doesn't matter, it could cost $5 million smackers and I would be just as incensed! Actually...I might be flattered that someone would pay that much to hack into my mundane life!

I don't care so much about the cheating spouse; I'm single, and care even less about keeping tabs on a kid; mine is grown. I do care however, about the employer, the potential employer, and any entity or person who may develop an opinion of me because they've installed spware on my phone, and now have access to what should be personal. I really don't have anything to hide, I just have things that are...well, none of your business! My views and opinions are relevant to who I am conversing with and intended only for that person or persons.

Many people have become victimized by this personal espionage. Understand this people, your life is not your own! Once spyware is installed on your mobile phone, conversations both on and off the phone can be monitored, and text and e-mail messages can be read. Spyware can be installed remotely or directly to your phones browser. Phones highly vulnerable, are smartphones and pda's. Technology advances enable mobile phone users to engage in activities once limited to a personal computer. Technology advances have also enabled these same users to be disadvantaged by another's curiosity, or blatant disregard for a persons inherent right.

I no longer feel secure when using my mobile phone. Spyware searches and seizes information by running continuously in the background; virtually undetected. Now someone knows that I called my cousin Karen a poo-poo head! That's not your business and ...uhm... I'm sorry cousin!

The following, are a few subtle indicators that spyware has been installed on your mobile phone:

  • Wireless bill is unusually high - data usage has increased, but your data usage has not.
  • Phone won't turn off - your phone does not respond to your request to turn it off.
  • Short battery life - you need to charge your battery more often.
  • Background light - your phone lights up when it's not in use, or it stays lit longer than it should when you turn it off.
  • Background noises - unusual, can suggest that someone is listening to your conversation.
  • Phone is warm - it's normal for a phone to warm up while in use, and cool down after use. A phone that is warm while not is use, may be suggestive that spyware is running.

To remove spyware, anti-virus software can be installed on your phone (only use a reputable source), you can delete files and programs that did not come with your phone, or you can return your phone to it's original factory default settings by a master reset. Review the user manual that came with your phone or contact your mobile carrier for support. To minimize the chance of a direct spyware installation, do not let anyone borrow your phone, unless you absolutely, positively and unequivocally trust that person...okay!

You don't have to hack into my phone, to know what's happening in my world. I can save you money and time, and simply tell you what's happening....nothing...well, almost nothing. How about you hack over here and take out the trash, better yet wash the dishes I left in the sink, or walk my dog. You can make yourself useful, and we'll both have benefit.

I'm in favor of expanding the Bill Of Rights to specifically include a right to privacy. Article Four of the Bill Of Rights asserts that people have a right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable search and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. If you read this as I do, the words effects and things stand out. Okay....I know I made the words bold...the point is, to me, these words apply to my mobile phone, the applications on my phone, text, email, calls and all other features of said phone.

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Wiretapping Act, both should secure our privacy, but there exist instances where these acts offer inadequate and limited protection for the consumer. Like the fourth amendment, the aforementioned acts are often challenged as legal protections when a consumers privacy is invaded.

There are many other laws imposed by the Federal Government, that not only protect our privacy, but require certain agencies to give public notice to clients regarding their privacy rights, and fully disclose how identifying information is used and protected. Each entity must further allow clients the right to access their records, and some provide the ability to opt-out or opt in.

I propose that mobile phone users are given an opt-out choice before spyware is installed on their phone. This option would eliminate any misgivings that one would develop after reading my text about a co-worker with a wedgie so bad that a pocket popped out of her mouth!

Many states have their own privacy laws. Not only do the laws vary from state to state, but they vary between the state and the Federal Government. Federal supercedes state when there is a conflict of the law. So, now we're right back to where we started. Spyware will and can be used for matters other than infidelity, or when your kid is still at lunch after the bell has rang.

You spyware people, I don't know if there's an actual name for you, but leave us alone! Some of us really aren't saying or doing anything different than you on your un-hacked phone! I've got to go, I've gotta call my friend Carla and tell her what Denise said Tony told her about Rhonda. But, first I've got to put this anti virus software on my phone, so you won't know...what - I - said!


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    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 5 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      Since the battery is the power for the phone, then no, the spyware will not work.

      Converting a cell phone into a microphone is one of many features on some spyware programs. So the answer is yes, because the microphone feature is activated as part of the spyware software.

    • profile image

      jack 5 years ago

      ok, but does the spyware still work when the batteries are out of the cell phone ? And can the microphone listening be remotely installed ?

    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 5 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      Hence the title of the article...yes, spyware can be installed remotely.

      Removing the battery does not remove the spyware. The spyware is installed in the browser of the phone with a software program via the phone number.

    • profile image

      Jack 5 years ago

      Hi imatellmuva. Can you tell me if the spyware described above can be installed remotely ? Also will taking your battery out definatly render the spyware inoperable ?

    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 5 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      Sid 60, spyware is like malware, it runs undetected, and continuously, even when the phone is off.

      Spyware can act no different than a radio transmission, it picks up conversations in a room through the speaker on the cell phone.

    • profile image

      Sid 60 5 years ago

      Hi all, the bit I find really scary is the comment that conversations can be monitored on AND OFF the phone. Can anybody explain the way a conversation can be monitored once the phone call has finished ?

    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 5 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      Paranoia...coupled with unethical behavior...on the eavesdroppers end.

      Thanks for stopping by mercuryservices!!

    • mercuryservices profile image

      Alex Munkachy 5 years ago from Honolulu, Hawaii

      Unfortunately, paranoia has gripped our society.

    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 5 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      Thank you Abdul for your comment and your suggested tips to detect spyware.

      I did recommend to another who commented on this article, that he obtain a new phone. He had spyware on his phone after repeated factory resets; this was suggestive that the culprit of the installation was possibly someone that he knows.

      Spyware is an interruption to a peaceful and quality life, and has the potential to cause harm far beyond a technical standpoint.

    • profile image

      Abdul Kadir 5 years ago

      Hi Imatellamuva,

      I was trying to search for cure of spyware on my phone and came across your article. It is nicely written.

      Just to let you know that there are cases where you cannot wipe out spyware by resetting to Factory default. I have experienced it - I did both soft as well as hard Reset but it continues.

      Now I have changed phone and hope it stops. I do know who had done it.

      There are some suggestions for those who are victim :

      1. If caller or called person hear beeps at varying interval, be on guard - someone is either recording or hearing you. Although with some advanced software this beep can be suppressed but cheap spyware available in market may not be able to suppress all beeps.

      2. DO NOT ever pick up the call which do not display any number. I did this mistake and I guess that is where all this started. If your phone does not display number of caller simply do not pick it up.

      3. If you are not able to get rid of it just change your phone. In case you have very expensive phone - there are vendors who can wipe out complete memory and re install brand new OS on your phone. Unfortunately many of these vendors may be not certified by phone companies.

    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 5 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      Akky, your input was absolutely useful, for you focused on the marks of what can be deemed as appropriate uses of spyware.

      My article denounces spyware for the purposes of privacy invasions which are not initiated for saving someones life, or your own for that matter.

      It is with far too much frequency that spyware is misused, simply because there are no filters of protection for those who have unwarranted installations on their phones; meaning that valid or justifiable reasons are non-existent.

      I thank you for reading the article, and for your response!

    • profile image

      akky 5 years ago

      I have to admit, you have some very good points here, but I feel people do need to know the truth about some things. For those who are parents, you know for a fact that not everything that comes out of your child's mouth is truth.

      And I have yet to meet a person who hasn't been cheated on at one point in their life. In these instances, I completely support it's use. I'll use and example for both cases where I believe it is truly necessary.

      For your children:

      Let's say you have a 16yr daughter. You have caught her sneaking out of the house/ sneaking in at ungodly hours of the night. She looks either drunk/stoned or whatever, main thing is she is under the influence of something. Either two things will happen now.

      A). She will deny using anything.

      B). She will admit using.

      In case A)., the truth is right in front of you. In case B). she will tell you, but if it's use is illegal, she will most likely not give up the culprit who supplied her. In both cases, she is likely to do it again.

      In this instance, I condone the use of spyware simply to find out who the culprit is to prevent this from continuing. NO QUESTIONS ASKED!

      BUT! If it was me, I would make sure that there was nothing to hide for a short period of time, and then I would let her have her privacy back. I believe invasion of privacy is completely ok AS LONG AS IT IS FOR PROTECTION! When there is no need to spy, don't do it! plain and simple.

      Now, for cheating people.

      I think this is essential if the warning signs are there. If someone is reluctant to tell you where they go, who they talk with etc., that in my books is a warning sign. Obviously a once-off thing does in no way warrant suspicion, but if it is regular, then I would be worried.

      In this case, I would use spy software. BUT once I got my answer, that's it. Either they are faithful, or they are not. If they are unfaithful, you have just possibly saved yourself from a lot of heartache in the future.

      But honestly, I truly believe that these are the ONLY two times that using it is ok... Either to protect your loved ones, or to protect yourself. But in case anyone gets the wrong idea here, I mean it as only a temporary thing. Regardless of whether you got the answer you wanted or not, I don't condone spying for long periods of time.

      Hope my input was useful

    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 5 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      When I was researching information for this article, and mind you it was published in 2010, I came across a website that had spyware for $5.95.

      Because I don't support spyware, I will not disclose the source.

    • profile image

      5 years ago

      Where can you get spyware for $5.95?

    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 5 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      CrazyGod, my interest in writing this hub followed a news report of a girl who unknowingly had spyware installed on her phone by a guy who had interest in her greater than JUST as a friend.

      While many companies offer products with different features, many of the features are the same, but are simply marketed differently.

      While I understand your desire to increase your need for more parental control, and especially in this technological age, my article does not support spyware; primarily because of misuse by other parties, who do not have anything to gain from an installation.

      These folks become privy to parts of someone's life that they would otherwise not be a part of. Many people who have spyware installed on their phone are not living a sordid or reckless life, yet their privacy is compromised by others who are not the best judge of character, and whose character should be the one in question...and mostly because of the use of spyware.

      I wish you the best with your teen. I understand the challenges that they are confronted with, and to their parents as well. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

    • CrazyGod profile image

      CrazyGod 5 years ago

      Really?Ijust got this mobile spy software for parental control, but you need to install the software by yourself on the phone. It has all the functions I want but except this.

    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 5 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore


      I'm sorry to hear of the possible compromise to your phone. Remember, spyware can be installed remotely or directly; meaning it could have been the person your niece was talking to, and yes it could have been your niece too. I hope it isn't your niece though...I hate a snoop'n blankity-blank niece!

      If you feel strongly that spyware has been installed on your phone; restore your settings to the factory default settings. Back-up any data before you do this, for your phone will now be how it was when you received it. Good Luck!

    • profile image

      Helen 5 years ago

      I think my niece done something to my phone im not sure but she borrowed my phone hour the night and it sounded like someone was listening in on my conversation, i now don't ring telephone banking anymore. Very interesting Spyware how scary.

    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 5 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore


      I'm going to guess that jajajajaja is a form of laughter, and especially since you said the article was funny too. Thank you!

      Just as you thought it was getting more serious I throw in an insane line about wedgies...these are serious too, and depending on the size of the undergarment...wedgies can be DANGEROUS!!

    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 5 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      emills, I can't make any claim to your paranoia, except to say that maybe everybody else is freak'n out!

      The indicators to detect spyware on your phone are subtle, and can mimic other unrelated issues. That's part of the genius of spyware, a user will be dismissive and consider that it must be something else.

      BUT, keep in mind constant recharging of your phones battery could mean that you have applications (not necessarily spyware) running in the background of your phone. Some applications, require other applications to support them. Get rid of applications that you don't use or rarely use; these applications can drain your battery too.

      If your data usage is suddenly higher than usual, it could mean that you used an application that requires more data to support the application. Thus meaning that your usage is the same.

      Your experiences mirrors my own when I switched to a 4G phone.

      A smart phone is a cell phone with computing capabilities. Treat it like it's a computer first, and a phone second. From all that I read, users are encouraged to reset their phone to factory default settings. You should save any data before you do this.

      Getting rid of spyware is what's key. You could change your number, and then it happens again with that number. I don't mean to frighten you; the point is you simply have to know what to do, and how to get rid of it should it happen to you.

      You might even be able to find an app that let's you know, perhaps by email or text when spyware or any program has been upload to your phone.

      Good Luck...and if it is spyware, then phhhffft to everybody who thought you were paranoid!!!

    • profile image

      LovelyAngel29 5 years ago

      Jajajajaja!!! All that info was very helpful n very funny...but yeah you ppl that like spying get a life of your own Lol :p n leave us alone!!!!

    • profile image

      emils 5 years ago

      This is so good to hear. People were saying that I'm paranoid but he (my ex) knew way to much even saying exactly what I said to a friend through a text! Yes my phone has been dying every night and my last bill was higher than this program connected to my phone or phone number? If I get a new phone with the same number is the spyware still active?!

    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 5 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      Jlava73, My imagination is far reaching, but it doesn't reach far enough to consider what could possibly happen next.

      I will say, that whatever it is...I will likely not be surprised! Modern technology is a simultaneous blessing and curse!!

    • Jlava73 profile image

      Jennifer Vasconcelos 5 years ago from Cyberspace and My Own World

      It's downright creepy that you could have spyware on your phone. What's next? Or do I dare ask?

    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 5 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      You're absolutely right Ben! However, while there are limitations, at least one is armed with the know-how to counteract this if it happens to them.

      Do nothing, and the problem persists. Do something and you have at least halted the act...of course until or unless it happens again...but now you know what to do about it each and every time.

    • profile image

      Ben M 5 years ago

      While I do feel that this s a. problem I do feel it has it's limited uses like to protect one's own children from the many dangers that weren't so prevalent when we were young

    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 6 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      trippin, I am sorry to hear of your issues with your iphone. I can not say definitively that your experience is directly related to a spyware installation.

      I can say that if you suspect that your phone has been compromised, then restore it to the factory default setting. You, or your carrier should be able to do this.

      It might be a good idea to back-up data from your phone before-hand. I hope this helps.

    • profile image

      trippin 6 years ago

      I ve been trippin out! doing a google search on iphone and weird sites talking bout what I am doing? my ex has done something to my phone its acting weird the people at apple think i am nuts! help me

    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 6 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      Richard, I'm sorry to hear about your continued invasion of privacy, and will dare say that because you are experiencing unsuccessful attempts to rid your phone of spyware is not suggestive that it doesn't work at all, it only suggests that it has not worked for you. You did not say that you had your wireless company to do the reset for you, so I am inclined to believe that perhaps something else is amiss. I tried desperately to find articles from others who have the same claim as you, and could find none. This in no way means that others have not had the same experience as you, it could simply mean that no one (or at least that I could find) has reported the same. While this suggestion may not be favorable, maybe you should get a new phone and number. If the spyware continues, it is likely that the culprit is someone that you already sounds as if that is likely the case.

    • profile image

      Richard I. 7 years ago

      I have read about spyware and many ways to "disable" or "get rid of it" when someone remotely installs it on your phone to invade your privacy and the one suggestion I see a lot is doing a factory reset.on your device. As a person who has been a victim of spyware for 16 months and counting I can honestly say doing a factory reset and installing an antivirus or antispyware app does not work, even after disabling "allow unknown sources" before the reset. I have done this 5 times in the last year and yet the person is still at it. It is not just an invasion of privacy, it is also an act of terrorism that this person has been performing with every message or email I have sent or received, and every call or sound he has recorded. It's almost like a case of herpes.....once it starts, it never ends because there isn't a cure for it.

    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 7 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      cheapsk8chick it's an outrage and a cry'n shame!! I saw a news story about a girl who befriended a high school classmate, who seemed to know her every move, even when she hadn't talked with him. It was later discovered that this guy installed spyware on her creepy is that? I either have to learn how to talk in code, or have very boring, wishing you were watching paint dry conversations. Thanks for stopping by!

    • cheapsk8chick profile image

      cheapsk8chick 7 years ago

      As if I wasn't already paranoid! Thanks for the awesome hub. I had no idea that people could do that to your phone! It sounds easy enough, I guess I never really thought about it. Voted & rated!

    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 7 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      D-o-l-o-r-e-s....haaaaayyyy!!! The world as we know it, is far different from our youth! Personally, I don't like the direction, and I don't like that the innocence of our lives are subject to anyone's scrutiny. My brother's and I were so happy and care-free (I have 4). It's sad that we have to go to extremes for what should be an inherent right...I'm not settl'n!!!

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Hmm, I think back to when I was a kid, my mother never spyed on me. And we ran wild, not acting badly, but in a good way, outdoors running free! We are all so constrained now.

    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 7 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      Thanks Margaret W!! It is reeaaaalll creepy!! It's crazee that our privacy can be encroached upon without us even knowing. I don't know I might have to break out some string and a couple'a cans for communication!

    • Margaret W profile image

      Margaret W 7 years ago

      Great article and really creepy too. Unfortunately, this is a symptom of a larger trend of privacy erosion. It's just becoming standard now that anyone and everyone can get whatever info on you they want, from your address, to a satellite or street view picture of your home to your whereabouts if you're naïve enough to sign up for any of those location-based sites...(like 4-square).

      I knew spyware got to phones but didn't know how pervasive it was or even what to look for. Thanks so much for the tips!!

    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 7 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      I'm with you Dolores. Spying has become a past-time and is no longer limited to a warranted reason. It's now done, just because! It's more than sad that this technology is available to everyone and anyone.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Welcome to the new world where there is no privacy and nobody trusts anyone. It's a sad state of affairs. But I start to think - why bother? Who would I spy on, why would I care? If you don't trust your kid with a phone, don't give them a phone.

    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 7 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      Hey Rosie2010!!!! Chile, I was upset and nervous at the same time when I learned about spyware! This is a dangerous installation that can consume your life, without you possibly knowing; even if there's nothing to hide...wink...wink!!

    • Rosie2010 profile image

      Rosie Rose 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Hiya imatellmuva, lol you made laugh so much. You are so funny gf! I think those people who use Spyware are called Spypeeps. lol I had never heard of Spyware before but nothing going here too... nada... zip... a-nothing! so off you to another phone, Spypeeps!!! Go away! lol

      Have a nice chat with your friend Carla,


    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 7 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      I like your name....Kwadaddy has a certain ring to it! Thanks for stopping by and reading my article. Spyware can be a lucrative business, however, it's use is not limited to business practices. Anyone can get spyware. It's insane!!

    • profile image

      KwaDaddy 7 years ago

      Wow!This was so informative.If I had known it was that cheap,easy and accessible I may have started a lucrative private investigations business lol!


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