Catch the spy in your phone
No one has the right, be it your boss or a paranoid partner, to snoop on your phone. If it is your company policy then your boss will be upfront and tell you about it.
Stalkerware are software programs or apps that allow people to monitor and get information about their partner, wife or anyone else via their phone. You do not have to be an IT genius to use it. It is readily available in the market legitimately and can be installed in mobiles as well as on desktops and laptops.
It is virtually impossible to introduce stalkerware on iPhones, but it can be done if the device is jailbroken. It is different for an Android smartphone. Officially, Google removes any app from the Play Store if it displays stalker-like behaviour.
There are some symptoms. The battery will drain faster, your data usage will rise, your phone will get heated up unusually, your screen time usage will report a rise and you may get strange notifications.
Tools to find it
Stalkerware apps may hide well but they do show up in the main apps list, maybe with a different name. Go to Settings on Android and tap Apps. See all apps. Look for items that do not look right.
Third-party tools such as Incognito Anti-Spyware by DV Technolabs, Certo Mobile Security and Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus do a good job of detecting stalkerware. All these are available on Google Play Store. I would recommend that you instal the Traced Mobile Security app, also from the Play Store. It is a free app and powered by deep learning technology. Traced analyses your phone’s apps and alerts you to suspicious activity using artificial intelligence.
It alerts you if a malicious app is detected. It also tells you when you have connected to an unsafe WiFi network or when you open a phishing link. It warns you when your Android software or device configurations are vulnerable or when an app tries to access your camera, microphone, takes a screenshot or records your active phone call.
How to remove it
Remember, digital stalking can be done in different ways, other than introducing stalkerware in your device. Be sure to have a safety plan in place. Sometimes removing the stalkerware can lead to more abuse. Most importantly, be aware that by removing the stalkerware you are removing evidence.
If you want to take this up legally you will need evidence. The best is to leave the phone or device as it is and get another one.
If you are sure you want to delete all evidence of stalkerware from your phone, do a factory reset. Remember to back up all important data from your phone — your contacts, photos and messages. When you reinstal the apps on your mobile make sure you only instal the ones that you really need.
Someone must have access to your phone to be able to instal any stalkerware. Set it to lock quickly, after 30 seconds of inactivity. This will prevent anyone from reading your private messages by simply opening your phone.
Lock your phone with a PIN, a password or using fingerprint or facial recognition. Make sure the PIN is not easily guessable. Be careful who you share your phone with.
To prevent access to accounts such as email and social media, protect them with strong and unique passwords. Use two-factor authentication wherever you can.
You can detect an unwanted visitor to your social accounts. Open Facebook in a browser and click on the downward pointing arrow on the top right. Go to Settings and privacy–Settings. On the left, click on Security and login to see all the devices where your account is active. Log out of any you don’t recognise.
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