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How Can I Detect Spyware on My Phone?

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Suspect your boss, parents or loved ones are prying into your personal space? Confused about the legality of espionage software? Read on.

In a world where governments admit to spying on other governments and world leaders have been revealed to be operating mass surveillance on their unknowing populace it can become a little confusing as to what is and is not legal. We see this confusion and lack of knowledge around this part of the law in our private investigator’s office with an alarming regularity. However, in a world where we are constantly under the watchful eye of authoritative bodies why wouldn’t you as a suspicious employer not be allowed to record the everyday goings-on of your staff? The answer, my friend, is that it is simply illegal for any Tom, Dick or Harry to install spyware technology to listen in on any conversation that a party has not consented to the recording of said conversation – this applies whether you are part of the conversation or not under NSW’s Surveillance Devices Act 2007.

What kind of spyware is available?

Now that we have the law out of the way we’ll proceed with how you can detect if an amateur sleuth or dodgy private eye is monitoring your daily chinwags. Despite the illegality of installing spyware on the mobile phone of an unsuspecting party the Internet is awash with sites flogging their tracking and recording wares. Mobile phone spyware technology is capable of a quite a lot; software like StealthGenie, MobileSpy, mSpy and FlexiSpy are capable of call recording; monitoring chat and messenger services and apps; hacking email accounts; and defining trigger words or numbers for third-party monitoring. This means a suspicious spouse or untrusting boss could be listening in your conversations, perusing your emails or being alerted every time you mention their name (or somebody else’s).

How can I tell if spyware has been installed on my phone?

Fortunately there are ways you can discover if spyware software has been installed on your mobile phone. Less advanced technology, or poorly installed software, could cause your phone to start acting up. If your phone’s battery is draining particularly fast or you’re regularly hearing peculiar background noise it could mean spyware has been installed. If your phone seems to turn on and shut down on a whim or you receive peculiar text messages, often in the form of random numbers and symbols, a third party may be accessing your phone — but these are all simply indicators and not to be considered hard evidence.

If you’re a little more tech savvy you may be able to go a little deeper. A dig through your phone’s subdirectories could reveal a telltale file — files with the word ‘spy,’ ‘sleuth,’ ‘stealth,’ and ‘hack’ should, and this should come as no surprise, be considered suspicious.

If you find such files hanging out in the installed software on your phone you can take it to a private eye. It seems like a case of the prying blind leading the prying blind as such software often reveals an amazing amount of information about the person doing the spying. Cracking open said files can lead to identity-revealing data such as phone numbers, email accounts and even names. Those willing to commit a crime by installing such illegal software on a non-consenting individual’s phone should be aware they could be paying big bucks for something that can very easily get them caught.

Similarly, those employing the services of an unscrupulous private dick should be aware that there are legal repercussions. Private investigators in NSW are able to use electronic surveillance but only where a warrant has been attained and the specifications of said issued warrant are complied with. No warrant means you and your investigator are in breach of the the law.

No reputable private detective service should be putting you, or your legal case, in jeopardy.

For more information about private detectives and surveillance laws read: Surveillance and Australia Part 1

You can also view Lyonswood’s former director, Warren Mallard on A Current Affair