Cell Phone Spyware – – Is your phone infected?

1 Sep

The following information applies to every SMART phone available on the market today. What is a “SMART” phone? That would be a phone that can surf the Internet, an iPhone, most Blackberry phones, ANDROID, Windows OS phones, etc.. If it is a smart phone then spyware can be installed on that phone.

First, a disclaimer… What I am about to divulge is the result of many hours of hard work, experimentation, and experience. We have been pioneering cell phone spyware and how to fight it for a few years now. Yet there is no 100% guarantee one way or the other. One could follow these instructions to a “T” and still be infected by an as of yet unknown to the forensics world new type of infective agent. We are always one day or more behind the curve. The bad guys make ‘em, we crack ‘em, but it is usually 24 to 48 hours before we even know about the latest variation of cell phone spyware. Therefore the best advice is to always be prudent. One can be prudent by:

  1. If I were hosting a meeting where sensitive information was on the agenda I would ask everyone to check their phones at the door right along with their guns. They are equally dangerous to your security, welfare, and the accomplishment of your goals.
  2. If you are going into a sensitive one on one meeting with your employer, your lawyer, your other significant other (soon to lead to a visit to the lawyer) then leave your phone outside of the meeting room with someone you trust.
  3. If you don’t want to leave your phone outside the meeting room, then take the batteries out OR put you phone into “airplane mode” to stop all radio frequency transmissions in or out.
  4. Having installed these spyware apps on my own phone for testing purposes I can tell you it isn’t so easy. It takes time and it must be done correctly. It cannot be done remotely, the person must have physical access to your phone.
  5. Go ahead, ‘byte’ the bullet, and set up a keypad lock on your phone. That way no one can get into your phone to download and install the required apps.

Key indicators that Spyware is already on your phone:

  1. THIS IS IMPORTANT – In the early days of cell phone spyware some people paid $1,000 to get this answer. With the iPhone and any other SMART phone that employs a closed, proprietary, operating system (almost all of them) the phone must first be ‘unlocked’ or ‘jail broken’ before Spyware can be installed.
  2. THIS IS IMPORTANT – In almost every case we see where Spyware has been installed on a phone there is one particular program that must be, has to be, installed first before the phone will accept the spyware. Call me and for $500.00 I will give you the name of that program. Oh, OK, I am pushover – the name of the program is “CYDIA”…

  1. If you suspect Spyware on your phone you need to check your applications tab and look for Cydia. For an iPhone that means going to the search screen (usually screen 1) and start typing in ‘CYDIA’. If you find Cydia on your phone, and if you did not put it there for another reason, then it is much more likely that you are already infected. Again, especially if you did not install it yourself.
  2. Another excellent indicator of the presence of Spyware can be found in your data usage history. Lets say, just as an example, you have been cruising along using 500 gigabytes per month, which is equal to one half Terabyte. Then one month people start acting very strange in your presence, or they somehow indicate that they have knowledge about your affairs that they shouldn’t have, or that creepy guy that keeps popping up unexpectedly knows who you went out with last night. After checking for Cydia, the very next thing that you should do is log onto your online account and check you data usage history. If your data usage takes a dramatic upward jump, for example your 500 gigabytes doubles to one Terabyte, that is another good indicator that Spyware software is on your phone.

The above graph is one I will use for a report to the court in a real case we are working right now. A young lady in Virginia is being harassed and stalked by her supervisor. She has had the presence of mind to keep copious notes about the situation, and, this is a federal military facility. That means that she has certain agencies available to her that us civilians may not.  The point is if you think someone put spyware on your phone IT IS ILLEGAL. It is a violation of your privacy rights and a violation of the law and you should seek legal assistance via an attorney.

  1. Other indicators include your phone turning on and off when it shouldn’t: lights on your phone flickering on and off: strange indications of characters on your screen and other random but frequent changes in the way your phone behaves, INCUDING the fact that your battery does not last as long as it did just last month.

In summary, what should you do if you are infected?  Here is where you may need a professional. It depends on how you want to deal with the situation. Do you want documentation that will stand up in court? Do you want to catch the person? Do you want to leave the Spyware on the phone for use in court at some time? Or, do you want to leave the spyware on the phone and start feeding the bad guys at the other end some disinformation? (Lies?) For any of those situations you may want to contact a CERTIFIED professional, like ME!

Or, if you just want to be rid of it, then back up everything on your phone EXCEPT your applications and then do a factory reset in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. After that, keep the phone physically safe from a new attempt, and monitor your indicators. If you still have questions please feel free to call. Our initial consultations are always free.

I hope this helps.

C.M. “Mike” Adams, 512-436-3610,  http://www.pfforensics.com

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