The “Predator” has become a constant headline in the “media” of Greece in recent weeks and has been placed at the center of political life; it remains to be seen whether it will also be placed in that of political developments.
The software that monitors our mobiles appeared as the direct competitor of “Pegasus”, which was also used in Greece “by state agencies”.
Both serve the same purposes: they give access not only to everything we do on our mobile (calls, messages, emails, locations, photos, browsing history), but also to every piece of h/w it has (cameras, microphone, etc.).
Manos Fragioudakis and Kostas Koukoumakas wrote about the increase in prosecutorial orders regarding the lifting of secrecy ‘for reasons of national security’ over the years.
If you want to know if your cell phone has spyware, here are the ten most common signs:
Unrelated apps are displayed
Although “spyware” is created to stay “hidden”, many of us use spy applications, such as parental control. If someone is spying on our mobile through these “apps”, the software is hidden in plain sight. Look for any apps you don’t remember downloading, or are different from the ones you remember having, or if you have different settings than you think.
It has been “rooted”, or “jailbrokered”; not by you
“Android” “rooting” or “iOS” “jailbroker” allow users to bypass official app stores to install unauthorized apps. If this bypass has occurred, without you having done it, it is suspicious. To check on “Android” download “Root Checker” and on “iOS” search if you have “Cydia”.
Battery drains quickly
If the “spyware” is constantly ‘on’, your battery may drain faster than usual. If you’ve noticed a sudden change, check if apps you’ve downloaded are responsible for it, or if they’ve been updated recently; before you suspect ‘naughty finger’.
The device is always hot
If the device heats up, it could be a sign that someone is spying on you. Especially if it gets hot without using it. It is also suspicious if the processing speed “drops” and if the device crashes.
Data usage is unusually high
An unusual increase in the amount of data your mobile ‘consumes’ may be a sign of “spyware”; it uses data to send information to the perpetrator. First check that no legitimate apps are consuming data. For example, a data usage spike found that a new “podcast” app was downloading past episodes.
- To check “iPhones”, go to “Settings”, from there to “Mobile Data” and see the total usage and the data consumed by individual apps.
- On “Android” go to “Settings”, from there to “Network and Internet” and then to “Data Usage”. Under ‘Mobile’ you will see the total amount of mobile data used by your phone. Tap “Mobile data usage” to see how your data usage has changed over time.
If your mobile phone is constantly connected to “Wi-Fi”, the practice will not help you much. Some “Android” phones also have a “Show Wi-Fi data usage” option.
Strange standby activity occurs
Your phone can receive messages and calls when it is on standby (or in “sleep mode”). However, it should not light up or make sounds. In this case there is “spyware”. Likewise, your phone’s screen should be off, not just dark, when it’s in standby mode.
The phone takes a long time to shut down
“Spyware” applications can sometimes interfere with a phone’s shutdown process; so that the device doesn’t turn off properly or takes an unusually long time to ‘shut down’.
Keep in mind that frequent and seemingly random reboots can also be a sign of “spyware” on your phone.
You find strange “SMS” messages
Text messages can be used by “spyware” and “malware” in general to send and receive data.
If you see outgoing messages that you didn’t send, something is wrong.
In terms of inbox, primitive “spyware” applications sometimes use “SMS” messages to communicate with their “base”. This message is encoded in some way if it is related to a “spyware” application.
There are services like “Cerberus” that send hidden commands in “SMS” messages, which can make your phone take a picture and send it —via email— to the perpetrator, take a “screen shot” and make other invasive things.
Autocorrect gets confused
“Keyloggers” are a form of “spyware” that keeps a record of all keystrokes. If someone is spying on your phone, may be using a keylogger to record your messages and login information. A possible sign of this spyware is the autocorrect system misbehaving.
The quality of the screen shots ‘deteriorates’
If you find that the quality of the screenshots is worse than expected, this could be the result of “spyware”. It’s something that can be caused by other forms of malware as well.
How to make sure there is spyware
If you have your suspicions that you are being watched and want to confirm them, there are several ways:
- One is Certo AntiSpy for “iOS” and Certo Mobile Security for “Android”. But you have to pay something.
- For free, you can set up a trap to see if someone has access to your information without your permission:
- You choose a public “web link” that you can share, e.g., an article from a news website.
- Use a free link shortening service (bit.ly)
- Add “link” and you get a smaller version. “bit.ly” will count every click on the shortened version; so, don’t do one yourself.
- Send the shortcut to a friend in a message. Beforehand, let him know not to click, in person; not online, or on the phone.
- Check “bit.ly” Stats
- If there is no “0” in “clicks” there is a problem.
How to remove spyware
And in this case, there are ways for which you need to pay something and others that are free:
- The most effective option is to restore factory settings (reset). This, of course, will delete everything from your device. You will lose everything and the malware along with it.
- If you create a backup copy of your data (so you don’t have to search for everything from scratch), the “spyware” will also be ‘transferred’ during the reinstallation. So, keep the “backup” available, but don’t upload it as is.
- By the way, the “reset” notifies the perpetrator that you are aware.
- There are also spyware removal tools on the market that are designed to detect and eliminate them. Prefer the product of a trusted security brand, as unknown ones may ‘carry’ their own malware. TOP10VPN —which provided all the information you’ve read up to this point— recommends “Avast Mobile Security” (by the way, the company’s website provides instructions on how to remove suspicious apps we’ve identified) and “Kaspersky Internet Security.”
- Sometimes updating the system software ‘breaks’ the spyware app; but this is not always the case.
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