If you have had a look around this website you’ll know that I cover a lot of information about cell phone spy programs. You will also notice that I stress the legal uses of the software but of course there is a darker side to this. People can be victims of illegal and unwanted use of spying programs.
This article will cover a few simple steps you can take to protect your mobile devices from spy software apps. As it happens these security tips will also help protect your phone from other sources of attack and vulnerabilities – and stop you being hacked. It makes sense to be safe online!
I have covered how to find spy software on your cell phone and also an article on how to remove it. They are relevant to this security article.
You should also familiarize yourself with the various spy programs – check my reviews of mSpy software, MobiStealth , Flexispy monitoring and Xnspy – get an understanding of what you are up against – most people are shocked at what these programs can do!
If you are in a hurry – have a look at the spy comparison table here – it lists the main spy features available.
If you think you really have a serious problem – I have developed a very detailed Cell Phone Security Guide. It covers everything you need to know to Find, Remove and Stop cell spy apps.
Why You Need to Secure That Device
Long gone are the days when phones were solely used for calling our loved ones and acquaintances. For many people today, smartphones have become a fundamental part of their day to day life. Also unsurprisingly, less than half of the time that we spend on our cell phones is used to make voice calls.
With the vast amount of functions and options that smartphones place in the palm of our hands, there are undeniably just as many risks that come with them.
However, there are many tricks and techniques that users can utilize to minimize the amount of risk that they take. Consequently, a lot of the time these risky behaviors are caused by sheer lack of knowledge.
Below, I have compiled a list of some of the common mistakes that smartphone users make, in regards with their privacy and what they can do to avoid being hacked.
Now Lock Your Phone
This is by far the easiest thing to do, yet so many people still neglect to do it. While it is true that it can be a little annoying having to enter a password every time you need to use your phone, it is a small price to pay to safeguard your privacy.
This is not to say that lock screen passwords are unbreakable; given enough time even the most moderately skilled tech wizard can find a way to crack your code.
However, a simple screen lock code is more than enough to keep the average person out of your phone. The common consensus among tech personnel is that a password/PIN is the overall best screen lock method to utilize; screen lock patterns, on the other hand, have been easily hacked in the past.
Setting your phone to automatically apply a screen lock after one minute (or even 30 seconds) is recommended.
Think Twice Before Rooting or Jailbreaking
Now before any of the tech savvy people reading this get angry and say that their rooted phone is 100% virus free, I am not saying that you should not root or jailbreak your phone.
What I will say is that if you do plan to jailbreak or root your device, please ensure that you know exactly what you are doing and what you are getting into. There is absolutely no denying that jailbroken iPhones and rooted Android phones give users a lot more options and possibilities at their fingertips; but with this comes more security risks.
However, iPhone and Android devices that are neither jailbroken or rooted are overall much safer because of the various security protocols and protections that are in place. In a nutshell, these protocols and protections prohibit just how much access an individual has to important parts of the device’s OS.
Full featured Spy software programs will only work on Jailbroken Apple devices – although some programs do have a method that can spy using the iCloud backup system – read more on my mspy review article.
For spy software – Android devices do not require rooting – but the spy features are limited if the device is not Rooted.
Use An Antivirus/Security Software
As stated before, your smartphone is literally a small handheld computer. As a result, it is susceptible to a lot of the same types of virus/malware attacks and risks. Even so even the most “tech savvy” individuals will consistently update their computer’s antivirus security, while their smartphone gets zero antivirus protection.
Virtually all smartphones (over 90% of them) come shipped with no antivirus software at all (not even a trial version). Additionally, very few smartphone owners even think about the malware risks that their devices incur and they don’t go through the trouble of getting security software such as an antivirus. It is madness!
You don’t even have to pay to get decent antivirus protection on your device. Here are some free antivirus options for Android and iOS:
An added bonus of putting an antivirus on your smartphone is that you will consequently be protecting your computer as well, by not transmitting a virus via your USB connecting (this is much more common that you would think).
You should also think about utilizing antitheft software in conjunction with antivirus software. GPS apps, such as Find My iPhone or Where’s My Droid, can help you track your phone if it is lost or stolen.
Now, a common question is – will antivirus programs find spy software? It leads to a lot of debate – but the simple answer is that you can’t rely on them to find spy programs. Antivirus and security apps can only find what they are programmed to find and the spy companies are not their top priority. They also stay a step ahead by changing and hiding file names.
Turn Off Your Bluetooth
This point bothers me on so many levels. I cannot recount the amount of times I have heard someone badmouthing an Android or iOS device about how the battery life is poor, only to find out that they not only have over a dozen apps running (that they are not using) but also that they have their Bluetooth on as well.
While having your Bluetooth on standby will probably only affect your overall battery life by 3% – 5% in a 24 hour period, there is absolutely no downside to turning it off when you aren’t using it.
If this isn’t enough of an incentive to turn off your Bluetooth, then maybe this will convince you. Do the words: bluebugging, bluejacking, or bluesnarfing sound familiar to you?
These words refer to a circumstance where an individual (hacker) can get access to your devices via your Bluetooth connection. Once they are within 25 – 30 feet of your device, a bluejacker can access your data and private information in seconds. So please, unless you absolutely need to use your device’s Bluetooth, turn it off.
Just be aware these methods are not using commercial spy apps – they are forms of hacking and are illegal.
Bluetooth and Spy Software
This is worth an extra comment – as I get asked about it all the time. There are some spy phone programs that claim you can remotely install spy software – they are basically scams and do not work as described. I have an article about that!
Essentially they claim to work using Bluetooth pairing to install and monitor. There are so many holes in this idea it is not funny. First the phone you want to spy must allow the pairing request – then monitoring can only happen within a 20 – 30 feet radius (in good conditions).
Find me a satisfied customer who has purchased a remote install spy software program! They are scams and the technology cannot and does not work.
Think Before Using Public Wi-Fi Networks
While making use of a public Wi-Fi network can be extremely cost effective, it is also extremely risky as wi-fi-securitywell. Virtually any and all information that is directed over a public Wi-Fi network is freely visible to individuals who have access to said network (provided that they know how to view it).
This is not even remotely difficult to do and it gives prospective hackers the ability to remotely access any information that is on your device. By using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) you can safely use a public network to connect to devices and if all else fails, your mobile data network will have to suffice.
If you do use public Wi-Fi be sensible and don’t start using your important passwords or sensitive tasks. Checking your bank account is not smart!
Install Your Updates
Software updates are regularly issued by the developers of apps and the manufacturers of smartphones. These software updates are important because they not only improve the overall functionality of your device; they also improve the overall security level of your device as well.
Realistically, as long as your updates are being delivered from a verified source, then you should accept them as soon as possible. This goes for both phone OS (operating system) updates and app updates as well.
Verify Your Apps
This is another common mistake that users of cell phones and tablets make every day. Very few individuals actually take the time to verify the various apps that they download and subsequently install.
Make no mistake, what we mean by “verify” is not complex at all. This simply entails checking reviews, the history of the app’s developer, and simple research. Android users are a bit more susceptible to these dangers, since it is a bit easier to get an app verified on the Google Play Store. However, this is not to say that iPhone users are completely safe.
Even so called verified apps can try to force malicious third party applications onto you – this is where your research and fact checking will save the day.
See an app with hardly any users an unknown developer and no real reviews? You might want to pass.
Don’t Just Click On Links
Numerous studies have shown that individuals are far more likely to click on risky links while they are on their smartphone (compared to when they are on their computers). This means that phones are much more vulnerable and predisposed to phishing attacks.
This makes sense, not only are individuals less cautious about the security of their handheld devices; stop spy software tipsURL s are usually shortened for mobile usage, this means that illicit web addresses are harder to detect.
Also, it is comparatively much more difficult to identify shady login pages while using a smartphone. How can you protect yourself? Simple; if links are sent to you via an instant message or a SMS, you should think twice before blindly opening them (or simply avoid clicking on them altogether).
In the case of links sent by email, you should probably wait until you can log in on your computer to view them. Are you really interested in that million dollars from your “new Nigerian Bank friend”. Delete!
Remember To Log Out!
While it may seem extremely convenient to have your device always logged into eBay, Amazon, PayPal, your personal bank account, or any other online shopping service; this is an extremely dangerous practice.
Doing this is almost like leaving your wallet on the counter at your favorite restaurant. Your phone should never be left logged into any website that is directly connected to your finances.
If your device gets stolen, not only are you losing your phone/tablet, you are also giving someone unhampered access to your funds, meaning that you could also have to pay for all of their guilty purchases (and getting a refund may be time consuming or impossible).
To avoid this, simply uncheck any checkboxes that ask to remember your password, username or login information.
This advice is also applicable to your web browser as well. You should try not to give your browser permission to record/save your login information to sensitive websites. Periodically clearing your browser’s history is also recommended as well.
Don’t Keep Sensitive Data On Your Phone
I sincerely hope that no one that is reading this actually does this; however, I have personally met people who do, so this is why I am mentioning it. Do not store your bank passwords, social security number, credit card PIN, or other sensitive data on your handheld device.
Think about it for a second, if your phone gets stolen and someone starts digging through it, what exactly are they going to think that 4 digit number, saved as a reminder or contact, represents.
Once they figure out that it’s your PIN they then have a greater incentive to begin searching for the account that matches it.
There are two main areas to consider around your device security. The loss or theft of the device and the threat of being hacked / compromised or being a victim of spy software. Both can have serious consequences and yet a few basic security precautions will protect you from most threats.
While we would all like to think that we are too careful or too cautious to ever get our cell phones stolen, the fact of the matter is that it can literally happen to anyone. All it takes is a couple seconds of distraction or a simple lapse in judgment and your device may be gone forever.
Think about this; according to the Consumer Reports National Research Center, in 2012 there were 1.6 million cellphones stolen in the US, this number almost doubled to 3.1 million in 2013. This means that there were, on average, over 8000 cellphone stolen every day in 2013.
In a recent survey conducted, 36% of people said that they utilize a 4 digit lock screen PIN, 29% said that they perform regular backups of their smartphone data, and 15% said that they utilize encryption and/or software that erase the contents of their phone.
These were just some of the results of the survey; however, a whopping 34% of people said that they took absolutely no security measures to protect their privacy in the event of theft, some of them just didn’t think it was necessary.
Are you guilty of any or all of these mistakes that we’ve listed? Do you have any other tips that you think are useful for all smartphone users? Feel free to share them with us!