Smartphones are not just phones anymore, they are interconnected with our social lives, and keep all personal information, which could include intimate, sensitive, or confidential information. If all personal information is interesting to anyone, there is a risk that they might try to acquire them.
It’s clear and common that fraudsters try to snoop/look through someone else’s phone without their permission to seek personal and confidential information. Attackers can use other access to trick vulnerable smartphones into giving up their IMEI and IMSI numbers, downgrade a victim’s connection in order to wiretap phone calls, forward calls to another phone, or block all phone calls and internet access altogether.
Few mistakes most of us probably doing on smartphones are (1) Letting every see what we are doing (2) Letting tools like Alexa run on their own (3) Staying signed in all the time (4) Agreeing to whatever and whenever smartphones ask us to do.
No matter what kind of device you’re using, a hacker with enough know-how and can break into your smartphone very easily, here are few signs listed below
Few Signs of Snooping (With a virus or key logger) :
- Phone crawling is very slowly
- Phone becomes too hot easily
- You’re using way more data than usual
- YouTube/ Online videos refuse to buffer and webpages take forever to load
- Programs and apps start crashing
- You start seeing pop-up ads
- Your gadget suddenly restarts
- Weird and Unexpecting Text Messages
Where to Check :
- For Android Users – Settings –> Apps & Notifications –> Camera / Microphone (Check if any unknown app is having access).
- For iOS Users – Settings –> Privacy –> Camera / Microphone (Check if any unknown app is having access).
What do Quickly :
- For Android Users – Settings –> Apps & Notifications (Check if any unknown app is having names like Spy, Monitor, Stealth, Track, Trojan Etc and remove them) and Go To –> Settings & Location –> Google Play & Protect (Do a Scan)
- For iOS Users – First Ensure its Not a Jail Broke Phone, Change all Passwords (Cloud Etc) Reset all Network Settings and update the latest version of iOS software.
Is snooping an accepted activity :
There are few scenarios where snooping on a smartphone is commonly accepted, not sure of its legality, but below are some examples.
- Supervising kids: Smartphones of the children that can monitor/control the usage and also track their real-time location.
- Supervising workforces: Monitoring software installed on company gadgets, again, the employer may reserve this right because it’s supposed to be used for company purposes only.
- Collaboration Purposes: Tracking a delivery, that may require surveillance from the command control centre to monitor and support the delivery.
Few features of monitoring software’s used by corporates :
- Offers Parental Control Software
- Allows you to track the online activities of your employee
- No Hassle Remote Installation Service
- Track users log on/off activity
- Remotely uninstall or deactivate the software
- Run in Hidden Mode
- Stops unauthorised software from being uninstalled
- Access by a secure key combination
- Provide dashboard alerts
- Send Remote Commands from Servers
- Automatic Remote Updates
A corporate snooping issue reported recently :
Phones are sold with Pre-Installed Apps (When Sold on Instalments). Phones are blocked if someone misses the payment (EMI) schedule.
The modus operandi is when a prospective buyer comes to buy a smartphone tune to a worth 10K, the bank agents keep the gullible people in conversation and offer them an additional loan and make them buy a much costlier phone and give the phones having pre-installed Application.
Seizing the phone vs stopping the phone usage are two different sides of the coin. We should have privacy built as part of life, Technology should never become a source of exploitation, Technology shouldn’t become a new source of hierarchy. Technology shouldn’t define new haves and have-nots.
Ms. G. Varalakshmi., a popular social activist, runs a campaign named Anti Red Eye Movement and is extensively working on how snooping is affecting individual privacy. It’s time for all of us to ponder upon and be cognizant of the risk and ensure we have proper data protection regulations as earliest as possible in the interest of the privacy of every individual who lives in this country.
Few forms/types of threats to get snooped :
- Malicious Apps
- Public Wi-Fi
- No proper end to end encryption
- Unused or inactive Apps
- Unused or Stolen devices
- IoT mobile security
- No password protection or Using default passwords
What Individuals should do :
- Share your phone with limits
- Update your OS and apps promptly.
- Always lock your devices when not in use.
- Utilise built-in mobile device management features
- Use the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wisely.
- Use two-factor authentication wherever possible.
- Manage app permissions wisely.
- Ignore spam and phishing emails
- Back up your data frequently.
- Use genuine (paid) antivirus/malware applications.
- Know where your apps come from (Install apps from legitimate sources – i.e., Apps Store & Play Store)