There’s no denying that we live in an increasingly high-tech, digital world. Our phones are “smart”, our televisions are “smart” – even our homes are “smart”. In many ways, technological evolution has proven to be wonderful, making communication easier, and making our lives more efficient. Like anything though, technology is not without its downsides, and one of those downsides is the capacity it gives us to spy and eavesdrop on one another. In marriages, particularly those that may be struggling, the tendency to spy, or at least to want to spy, is nothing new. We want to know what we don’t know, and that is often simply a fact of human nature. We may suspect our spouse of cheating, or of hiding a bad habit like gambling, or drinking, and feel that spying will help prove the truth so that we know how to take action.
While these feelings and temptations are understandable, what any spouse tempted to spy should keep in mind, is that choosing to engage in this behavior is not only unhealthy, but in many cases, it is also illegal. Unfortunately, despite this, some spouses still choose to do so. While there are many traditionally used methods of spying, including hiring a private investigator, following someone, video surveillance, reading emails, and using bugging devices, the use of smart technology has opened up an entirely new world of spying potential. It is important to be aware of the capabilities of smart technology, and of the possibility that your spouse may be using those capabilities to spy on you. Being aware is the first step toward protecting your privacy.
Apps and Features Commonly Used for Spying
As technology continually evolves, so too do the options for apps that can be used within that technology. It seems as if there is an app for almost everything these days – and spying is unfortunately no exception. While some apps exist specifically for the purpose of spying, there were others that were created for different purposes, but are nevertheless often used to spy. It is important to be informed about the options that are out there, in order to protect your privacy and the security of your confidential information.
Many smart phones now come equipped with location-sharing services. The intended purposes behind this feature are many – users can share their location with one another for purposes of meeting up for social or work-related activities, for purposes of GPS navigation, or for checking into a particular location to leave a review for others to read, to name only a few. Unfortunately, these location-sharing services are also quite often used for spying.
In some ways, the phone essentially does the spying itself – all that the would-be spy needs to do is turn the location sharing feature on without the knowledge of the other spouse. Apple phones actually have a “Find My Friends” feature which, when enables, allows users to share their location with others indefinitely, and at all times. Turning it on is as simple as toggling “Share My Location” on the phone. If your spouse were to do this without your knowledge, he or she could track your location at all times very easily.
Fortunately, it is also very easy to turn this feature off. You need only go to the “Share My Location” setting and toggle it back to the off position. You can also make changes directly within the “Find My Friends” app on the phone.
Spyware Apps for Phones
The vast majority of people in the United States now have smart phones, and many of us carry our phones with us wherever we go. Our phones have become essential for communication in our modern world, and most of us use them not only to place calls, but also to text, take photographs, and send emails. We download and use any number of apps on a daily basis, and much of our communication with others is transacted by using our phones. As a result, your smart phone is a prime target for spousal spying. In fact, many “spying” apps are available for download easily and quickly from the app store. You could already have one installed on your phone, and be entirely unaware of it. While there are any number of spying apps, some of the most popular include:
- Apple Apps
- Phone Tracker
- Android Apps
- Highster Mobile
- Auto Forward
These are just a few apps of many available, and more are seemingly being created all the time. While each app works slightly differently, most serve to copy information from your phone in a variety of way and send it to the spying spouse without your knowledge. To protect your privacy, it is always a wise decision to check your phone for the presence of these apps. Typically, they don’t show up on the home screen itself, so it is important to know how to check for them, depending upon the type of phone that you have.
Spying Using Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Other Smart Technology
In today’s modern and highly digital world in which we have smart phones, many of our homes are also “smart”, and it seems, growing ever-smarter. The use of virtual assistants like Amazon Echo and Alexa, Google Home, and Siri has, in many ways, made our lives, and our daily tasks easier. On the other side of the coin, however, using this smart technology is not without its privacy risks. Certainly, there are concerns, when using these devices, that they are recording what is being said in the home. There have, in fact, been reports that hackers have been able to breach the security of the Amazon Echo and send live audio to remote services. While it is unlikely that your spouse will have such advanced hacking capabilities, there are certain features these devices have, of which you should be aware.
One device in particular, the Amazon Echo, has what is called a “drop-in” feature. This is a feature that allows a user to begin listening and speaking to someone in the home through the Echo speaker without the traditional phone-ringing process or the requirement of someone choosing to answer the call. This feature makes it very easy for those who might wish to eavesdrop to do so.
Those who are concerned about this feature can choose to disable it under the device’s “settings” feature. Another wise decision would be to unplug or remove any microphone equipped device from the room when you wish to have a confidential conversation. You can also choose to mute the devices microphone, either through the settings, or by using the physical button on the speaker.
How Do You Check Your Phone for Spyware?
It is always wise to periodically check your phone for the presence of any spying apps, particularly if you suspect that your spouse may be attempting to spy on you. Depending upon the type of phone you have, the procedures to check for the presence of spyware will be slightly different.
If you have an Android phone, to check for the presence of spyware, you should:
- Go to your Android’s smartphone settings;
- Click on “Apps”
- Click on the three vertical dots in the top right corner;
- Choose “Show System Apps” to view all of your smartphone’s applications;
- Note any apps that you may be unaware of, and research those apps to verify that you are aware of their purpose.
Another option for Android users is to try the following:
- Find the “My Files” or “Files” option on your phone
- Select “Downloads”
- Scroll through the downloads to see if there are any files that you do not recognize
- Research those apps or files and delete if necessary
If you have an iPhone, your spouse may have to take extra measures to install a spy app on the phone without your knowledge. This is often referred to as “jailbreaking” a phone, and essentially is a process whereby Apple’s strong security system is bypassed. When your phone is jailbroken, this not only allows spyware to be installed, but also opens up your phone to a host of other security risks.It is therefore very important to ensure that this does not happen, and to check regularly for the possibility.
To determine whether or not your iPhone has been jailbroken, the easiest route may be to consult with the technicians at your local Apple Store, or another store with technicians who are well-versed in iPhone technology. There are also some companies that offer advanced spyware detection services for a fee. Those companies, as well as the technicians at your local Apple store, will be able to help you restore your iPhone to its normal, secure settings as well.
It is worth noting, however, that there are certain spyware apps, mSpy and SpyAdvice in particular, that do not require jailbreaking the phone prior to installation. These two apps also operate in “stealth” mode, which means that the app icon will not appear on your screen after it is installed. The easiest method of determining whether or not those apps have been installed on your phone is to check your purchase history to see if any unknown, or spyware apps have been purchased. In order to do this:
- Open the App Store
- Select your profile icon on the top right
- Choose “Purchased”
- Search for the names of specific spyware apps that you suspect may have been installed on your phone
- If you do not see a particular app under “Purchased” then clock on the tab labeled “Not on this iPhone” to view hidden apps
An additional option is to check your billing account to see if any unexpected purchases have been made. You can also choose to restore your phone to factory settings to remove any spyware. Also consider changing your password on a regular basis and keeping it private to further enhance and protect your security.
Other Suggestions for Protecting Your Privacy
In addition to checking your app purchase history and your devices for the potential presence of spyware, there are other important measures to take that can help to protect your privacy as well. These include:
- If you and your spouse share a joint account, don’t store any information on that account that you don’t want your spouse to know about, or use websites you would rather your spouse not know about while logged in.
- Understand the capabilities of the devices you use, as well as who has access to them.
- Though this is more rare, occasionally a spouse may bug your phone. Be aware of any odd changes in sound or volume, or hearing unexpected noises from the phone either during your conversations or after you have hung up.
Ideally, every marriage should be built on trust between two spouses that is always respected and honored. Unfortunately, this is sometimes simply not so. Moreover, it is generally just a wise choice to ensure that your electronic data and personal information is safe, regardless of who may be attempting to look through it. Taking steps to ensure and protect your privacy is always a smart decision, and one that you won’t regret. If you do happen to discover that your data has already been compromised by spyware that your spouse has used against you, you may want to consider speaking with an attorney, particularly if you feel that damaging information may have been discovered, or if divorce may be imminent. Don’t hesitate to take the necessary steps to protect yourself today.