Let’s say you are trying to find out if someone has installed an illegal spyware app on your cellular device, laptop, tablet or computer.  You try to conduct a search that would indicate a malware application has been installed but are unsuccessful or you get information on the legal apps that are pre-programmed on your phone or “find a friend” or something similar.

The reason you cannot find it is probably due to the way the app was created and the capabilities of the app.  There is a reason why these apps are called “Spyware” or “Malware”.  They are designed to remain hidden on your phone without detection.  Spyware or Malware apps can cost as little as$19.99 and can go up in price depending on where the app was purchased and  the type of app.  In most cases that we have worked and located spyware or malware apps, the cost is in the range of $39.99 and sold outside of the US.  The reason for this is due to the information the app provides to the third party who installed it.

There are also legal apps that can be downloaded to your phone and there is a few that are beneficial to your lifestyles, such as Life360 and other apps that you and your family can share to determine a location of your phone for security purposes.  Then there are apps that allow parents the ability to see where you are, who you have called and texted, and apps for aging parents that allows family members to see their location.  These are legal apps that can be downloaded to the phone but are probably not hidden and will show an icon on the device.  Illegal spyware apps do not display any icon and conducting a manual search alone does not identify them.  They are meant to be invisible to the user.  

Let’s say that your phone runs hot, or the battery continually drains faster than it had been.  This is an indication that an app is running in the background.  If you close all applications on your phone and there is nothing running in the background and/or you have disabled apps that track your activity such as “Health Type Apps” and your phone remains hot and the battery is depleted faster, you could have illegal spyware installed.

Let’s say your phone turns on even though you haven’t received an email or a text.  You can set your phone to show these without logging on and entering a password, but if this happens periodically, you may have a spyware or malware app installed.

Spyware apps all have names, but once installed it is embedded as code and to find that code, you will need to retain the services of a company that utilizes the most updated software program and has the expertise in this field to locate the spyware.  The company will create a Forensic Image of the phone, and then an analysis is conducted from that image, not the actual phone.  In that manner, there are no modifications done to the phone.  This is done so that the results can be used in court and verifies that “we, the experts” did not download anything on the phone.  

Let’s say you need to know who installed the spyware and when they installed the spyware.  Is it possible to pinpoint when the spyware was installed?  Yes, it is!  Is it possible to provide the name of the person who installed the phone from the analysis?  Maybe!  We will be able to determine the telephone number, or the email linked to the spyware, but not the person.  If that email or number is linked to an individual, then the answer would be yes.

Let’s say you leave your phone on your desk at work, or nightstand at home and it isn’t password-protected, or someone had your password and they got access to your phone, the phone is accessible.  During the time they had your phone in their possession they downloaded a spyware or malware app, what would our results be?  It would indicate that the app was installed on a certain date and time, but it was manually installed therefore nothing is linked to the app for identification purposes.

That is why is it important to passcode your device and to change the passcode periodically so that your device remains secure.

There are many reasons that spyware would be installed on a device.  First, the legal reason mentioned earlier, for the safety of a family member or loved one.  But you must remember, these types of spyware do not allow a third party to hear conversations, ever, under no circumstance.  

Other examples of why spyware would be installed on your device are:

  • Divorce or Custody Cases:  One party needs to know what the other party is doing, saying and with whom they are communicating and the context of that conversation.  It also allows the party to have access to private information to include communication with one attorney.  
  • Infidelity:  One party has installed the app to determine or verify if the other party is being unfaithful, who they are seeing, where they are going, what they are saying and with whom they are conversing
  • Corporate Related:  Contract Negotiations, Sale of Company, Employee Retaliation
  • General:  Disgruntled individuals such as a breakup of a relationship, Stalkers, this type is usually in the private sector.

If your device runs hot, battery drains fast, it turns on and off by itself, or if your private and personal conversations are known by others and your whereabouts are easily identified, you may have illegally-installed spyware and your device should be analyzed for determination.  

The Forensic image/extraction can be completed within 3-6 hours.  After the extraction, the forensic tech will conduct an analysis to determine if your device is safe or if someone is listening to your calls, seeing your texts, reading your emails and know exactly where you are at any given time.  As the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

/All In Investigations Inc.

Brenda McGinley ~ Director of Operations