What Are Some Indicators That My Cell Phone Might Have Malware/Spyware?

Top 10 Suspicious Indicators That Your Cell Phone Might Have Illegally Installed Spyware:

1. Battery is warm when not in use.
2. Battery life is noticeably diminished each day.
3. Some Blackberry’s; communication icon on right screen flashing.
4. Small pauses of audible communication while talking.
5. Light audible tones, beeps or clicks throughout conversation.
6. Flashing or flickering on display or change of brightness.
7. Some spy-ware programs require the spy to manually mute their phone, therefore you might hear them in the background at the beginning of conversation or when they tap in.
8. Slower internet access.
9. Suspicious 3rd parties have detailed knowledge of your private conversations and locations (GPS).
10. You have opened a suspicious email or one from a potential spy. (allowing Trojan horse to install spy-ware remotely).

The Smarter the Cell Phones the Easier It Is to Hide Spy-Ware.

If the eavesdropping perpetrator has effectively installed spy-ware on your phone, then that perpetrator has total control, i.e. obtain all text messages, emails, internet sites visited GPS location, photos and videos obtained, etc.

Facts You Should Know About Cell Phone Spyware

Phone Tapping Warning Sign.

  • The manner in which spyware is installed on the phone is dependent upon the capabilities of the phone itself.
  • Smart phones can have spyware downloaded from websites, Blue-tooth connection, mms messages, and of course a pc connection.
  • There is no single spyware program that can be installed on all phones since there are many different OS’s and each one must have code written for the specific OS.
  • Symbian OS is the most common OS but has hundreds, if not thousands, of different versions depending on the software development intended on the device.  Many spyware programs cannot work for more than a few versions, if even more than one version.
  • Cell phone spyware programs that can be installed via Bluetooth connection claim to be able to install software remotely, but as with all Bluetooth devices it must have been paired with the target phone first.
  • It is possible for the remote installation of spyware onto a target phone, but this involves “tricking” the user into downloading and installing the malware on their cell phone.
  • Sending bogus mms messages with the intent to install cell phone malware is the easiest way to trick a target user. By sending messages with fake links could get the user to unknowingly download spyware programs. Most of these attacks involve making the user think the messages came from the carrier and posing as upgrades to the firmware on the phone especially through email. Some techniques use photos embedded with third party stenography hiding the spyware.
  • Some cellular spyware claims that it can extract data and voice from a target phone without installing any spyware on the target phone. We are still researching a specific software with this claim but at this time we can neither confirm nor deny this possibility.
  • Cell phone spyware programs can collect the following information and possibly more: contact data, mms, sms, phone call history, email history, web page history, pictures, video, GPS location, cell tower triangulation history (less accurate), file system information.
  • Spyware programs can remotely become a covert third party to conversations as well as use the phone as a bug so that room audio is available whenever the bad guy chooses. The spyware can alert the bad guy when a call is made as well as texts and emails so they can call the phone and listen in. No call history for the bad guy’s phone is saved on the phone although it will show up in the service provider’s records.
  • As far as prevention of cellular spy-ware installation is concerned, blackberry’s have the best protection by far. The security code can only be guessed a certain number of times before it completely erases all information from the phone and has no obvious “backdoor” to circumvent this issue. Other phones can be protected more or less by passwords but the password must not be too easy to guess and some phones can allow a reset of the password, which is not that hard to accomplish in the wrong hands.
  • There is no known blanket spyware protection that will protect all cell phones.

Can I Examine My Own Phone?

It is nearly impossible on most phones to detect cellular malware without the use of sophisticated software. Not only is forensic spy-ware detection software expensive, it is also highly complex and difficult to master. Furthermore, the software is only as good as the examiner who utilizes it. The examiner must not only know how to operate the software to its full potential but also be able to manually search through the data (lines of code) to find the spy-ware. An examiner must have completed multiple certification courses prior to becoming an expert examiner. This is particularly useful if any evidence obtained is to be introduced into a court of law. Credibility is very important in technical evidence. Learn more about our cell phone spyware detection procedure.

Still have questions regarding your phone? Call us, toll-free 1.800.403.8111 or click here to request more information.

How Do I Get My Phone To You?

We recommend placing the phone in a well protected container with the battery separated from the phone and supplied along with the charger. If you are unable to remove the battery from the phone then we highly recommend that you turn it off and wrap the phone 8 or 10 times with metal foil which will essentially become a Faraday cage. This will prevent any signals from leaving or entering the phone prior to our examination. Once we receive your phone an examination begins within one business day and usually takes approximately seven days to complete prior to sending the phone back to you. Sometime we are able to accomplish the examination in less time.

Step 1: Call us toll-free 1.800.403.8111 or fill out this consultation form to obtain an estimate to examine your phone.

Step 2: Follow the procedure above for securing your phone for shipment to us.

Step 3: Ship your phone to:

International Investigators, Inc.
c/o Cell Phone Forensics
3216 North Pennsylvania Street
Indianapolis, IN 46205

How We Got Started With Cell Phone Forensics

In 2004, International Investigators, Inc., our parent company, was involved in a Technical Surveillance Countermeasures sweep of a Client’s home and office in Orange County, California. When no bugs, eavesdropping devices or wire taps were found in either location, one of our team members began further questioning of our Client in an attempt to determine what could possibly have been used to conduct an effective eavesdropping operation on her private conversations with her attorney and others. It was learned that the only common denominator was her cell phone which her estranged husband had physical access to during their cohabitation. Her husband was an IT expert with a large company and had access to this spyware technology. At that point we had no experience with cell phone bugs or how to handle them, but knew the protocol when examining computers for Trojan horses or spy-ware. Since a cell phone was just a less complicated computer at that time, we treated it as such. Upon further investigation a malware (usually referred to as spy-ware or Trojan horse), program was found in the phone that enabled her husband to monitor her cell phone conversations and more specifically to remotely turn on her cell phone while it was in the standby mode, either in her purse or on a table and obtaining clear audio of conversations surrounding the phone. This was the beginning of our mobile forensics lab. Today our mobile forensics lab division utilizes state of the art software and hardware platforms to search for even the most covert cell phone malware programs that can be installed in today’s high-tech phones. We are part of a mobile forensics collaboration with the leading examiners in the United States that exchange information so that we are always aware of new cellular and mobile malware programs that are literally “born” each day. Mobile forensics examiners in the collaboration find nearly 10 to 15 new malware programs per day with well over 4,000 completely different types or variations known to be in existence presently.