Technology can play for or against people. On the one hand, it facilitates life with geolocation, voice detection or the possibility of making phone calls, but on the other it opens the door for third-party companies or individuals to access information on all steps taken by the owner of the telephone, its communications and the keys that identify it -for example- in banks and public administration.
In most cases, it is the users themselves who provide part of this information, each time an application is given permission to access the contacts, stored photos or the microphone. But, apart from this cession of privacy in exchange for comfort or services, there may be the possibility that someone access without this consent to all these data. It is not only the use that can be made by the judicial authorities authorizing the intervention of the telephone (by means of a technique called 'roving bug', which consists of activating the remote microphone of the telephone), but also by installing an app on the device. to collect that information illegally.
In order for the phone to have an application that spies on your user's data, it is necessary for someone to physically access the device to install it or to deceive the owner of the smartphone to do so. In the first case it would be, surely, someone close to the owner of the device (such as his partner or his parent) and that can take it and handle it. In the case of Android this is done using the browser and on iPhones through iCloud. The programs that are used to spy on someone are used to listen to phone calls, record them, know the location of the mobile, consult the messaging programs, access the photos and videos that are on the device …
Spyware to monitor the use of the phone and access the information it contains
In the second case it is likely to be spyware, a type of malware. Without going any further, in February of this year a group of academics from the Universities of Purdue and Iowa have found three security failures in the 4G and 5G mobiles called ToRPEDO, PIERCER and IMSI-CRACKING. As reported by the Basque Cybersecurity Center, these can be used to intercept phone calls, launch impersonation attacks or track the location of Android devices.
The methods used by criminals to get that malicious software to the mobile are very varied. Sometimes the first ones deceived are the developers: in March Google Play Store detected hundreds of apps infected by the adware 'SimBad', which opened multiple ads. These generated pages of phising (a technique to obtain confidential information posing as a trusted source) and allowed the installation of applications without the owner of the phone knowing. In that case the developers were deceived because they did not know that the development kits they used included such malware.
These harmful applications work like a computer virus that 'infects' the operating system, sometimes becoming undetectable and searching the phone for sensitive information such as passwords; also making recordings that are then sent to the spy.
How to tell if someone is spying on the phone
There are some signs that someone is spying on the information stored on the phone or transmitted through it:
–Some app that we have not installed appears. If we suspect that something strange happens, the first step is to check the applications that are installed on the mobile, although spy apps tend to be camouflaged so that it is not easy to detect them.
–The battery runs out before. Any application that is running, even in the background, is consuming battery. This does not mean that whenever we notice that, suddenly, the battery lasts less is for this reason, since it may be due to some application that we have installed or updated and have some kind of failure. This check is very simple, you just have to go to 'Settings> battery' and see which programs have consumed energy the last few hours. If there is any unknown, it can be spyware.
–Strange notifications arrive from an unknown app.
–That the phone reboots itself or warms up even if it is not used.
–Check the data exchange. If the application is sending phone data it should be noted in data traffic, something that can be checked by viewing the applications that have accessed the Internet. To know it, you have to enter the 'Settings> Networks and Internet' menu and look for the option 'Use of application data' to see which applications are sent and receiving information.
–Review browser history to know if someone has entered a page to download an application.
Measures to prevent spyware installed on the mobile
The methods used by cybercriminals to get their spyware to mobile phones is increasingly sophisticated, but there are some measures that help keep our smartphones 'clean'.
-While Google uses 'Play Protect' to verify the apps that are in your store, sometimes some are detected with malware. With everything, use Google Play Store It is still much safer than downloading and installing an application (apk) on any page.
–Use an antivirus that detects malware. There are free ones like 'Avast'. It is also a good help 'Conan Mobile', a free application developed by the experts in cybersecurity of INCIBE (National Institute of Cybersecurity) that helps protect the mobile device. Conan lets you know the security status of the gadget and provides some tips.
–Do not lose your view mobile and check that nobody else has access to it. Leaving it anywhere is dangerous if it falls into the wrong hands and someone installs a spyware.
What can be done if spyware is detected on the smartphone?
If one of these applications is located on the phone, the simplest thing is to remove it from the device as if it were just another application, by pressing and holding the icon and dragging it to the 'uninstall' option. But if you can not find the app you can resort to the use of an antivirus with antispyware to Remove all traces of malicious software.
There is another solution that is definitive and that will solve any espionage problem of the device, but it is also very drastic: reset the mobile to factory values. Be aware that this will remove all apps that are installed and data, documents, photos and videos that were on the device.
(tagsToTranslate) know (t) spy (t) mobile