Staying Aware of Spy Gear
It’s no secret that we live in a world of highly advanced technology. Many of us have “smart” phones, “smart” cars, and even smart homes. Sometimes, it can seem that our technology is even smarter than we are. While these intelligent and interactive technologies add much to our daily lives, the truth is that they come with a trade-off. While this technology is wonderful when used as intended, when it is intentionally misused, it can cause us a great deal of trouble.
We’ve all heard stories, or perhaps experienced the consequences of data breaches at large companies or healthcare systems, compromising our personal information and our privacy. We’ve heard stories of hackers, both at home and abroad trying to obtain valuable information in nefarious ways. These stories understandably raise legitimate concerns about how protected our privacy really is.
We know that data can be accessed and intentionally used for illegal purposes, and we often assume that it is some stranger, some unknown criminal who seeks to gain unauthorized access. But what if this breach of privacy, this unauthorized access to your data happens not on some hacker’s far-away computer in a dark room – what if it happens right in your home? Unfortunately, this happens far more often than many people realize. All of our smart technology and access to social media has made it easier than ever to pry into the lives of those closest to us without their knowledge.
Most of us don’t want to believe that our spouses would spy on us, but the truth is that it does happen. For any number of reasons, even if there is no merit to the suspicions, one spouse may believe that the other is cheating, or hiding a bad habit like drinking or gambling. These suspicions, if they last long enough may give rise to the temptation to begin spying. Unfortunately, today’s technology makes spousal spying easier than ever. Gone are the days where spying would require hidden tape recorders or physically following someone in secret. Gone are the days where spying would require a great deal of personal effort. Today, there are numerous apps and programs actually created for spying that many spouses are tempted to use, and that make spying very easy.
It is important to recognize that there are some ethical great areas in marriage. Sometimes, families share all the same passwords, use a communal computer, and enable things like the “find my friends“ feature to be able to locate one another easily. After becoming accustomed to such easy access, it is not difficult for some spouses to make the leap to spying, if they are tempted enough.
In this article, it is our intent to explain some of the most commonly used spy gear, and how you might protect yourself against its use. Prior to this discussion, we feel it important to note, however, that this article is not an endorsement of the use of any of these apps or techniques. In fact we would caution those considering spying that in many cases, it is illegal and carries significant consequences. This article is intended to help you identify and protect yourself against the use of spying techniques, and to raise awareness of a very real issue that does arise in some marriages.
Commonly Used Spousal Spying Technology
Apple or Android? It’s a question that most of us have had to ask ourselves as we choose our technology. While both options offer many “smart” features, the apps and capabilities of each are different. As a result, we’ll discuss both types of devices, and the common apps used on each, respectively.
- Apple: Common spyware applications for Apple include SpyAdvice, mSpy, Phone Tracker, SpyVid, FlexiSpy, SpyEra, Highster Mobile, and SpyBubble, to name only some of many. This is not to mention the fact that in 2015, Apple introduced what some consider to be an ultimate “spying” capability – a location sharing feature that allows users to share their location with each other indefinitely. By simply pressing “Share My Location” and choosing another user, your phone will share your location information indefinitely with the other person.
- Android: PhoneSpecter, Highster Mobile, Auto Forward, Flexispy, SpyEra, and MobiStealth.
It is important to keep in mind that these are only a few of many spyware options available – and options seem to increase each day, along with the ever-evolving pace of technology in general. Knowing all of the apps that could potentially be used may seem nearly impossible, but the good news is that there are some simple steps you can take to monitor your devices for the presence of these apps, and in so doing, protect yourself and your information.
How Do I Check My Devices for Spyware?
Again, the actions you will want to take will be different, depending upon whether you have an Android or an Apple device. We’ll also briefly discuss how to protect yourself against the potential use of smart technology in your home for spying purposes.
- Apple: With respect to the “Share My Location” feature previously mentioned, the smartest thing to do, if you believe that your spouse may be using this feature to spy on you is to simply turn it off. All you need to do is find the “Share My Location” tab, and toggle it to “off” on your phone. With respect to checking for other potential spyware, the good news is that Apple typically makes it very difficult to install hidden spyware. Typically, in order to do this, your spouse would need to “jailbreak” your phone. This is a process of bypassing the strict control that Apple has over the operating system, and it is fortunately not easy to do. If you suspect that your phone may have been jailbroken, you can consult with Apple, or another qualified tech squad. The good news is that if your phone has been jailbroken, a jailbreak can typically be reversed by restoring your phone to factory settings.
It should be noted, however, that there are a few apps on the market that do not necessarily require a jailbroken phone – two of the most popular of which are mSpy and SpyAdvice. Both of these apps operate in “stealth” mode, which means that the icon for the app will not appear anywhere on your screen. In order to check for the presence of these apps, the best thing to do is to check your purchase history on the App Store by taking the following steps:
- Open the App Store;
- Select your profile icon on the top right;
- Choose “Purchased”;
- Search for the specific name of the app, or simply the word “spy”.
If you do not find any evidence of these apps in this manner, you might also want to click on the tab labeled “Not on this iPhone” to view any hidden apps. Checking your billing account for any strange purchases is also a wise decision. As an extra security measure, also consider regularly changing your password and keeping it private.
- Android: There are typically two options for checking an Android device for spyware:
- Option One:
- Go to your Android’s smartphone settings;
- Select “Applications”;
- Click on the three vertical dots at the top right;
- Choose “Show System Apps” to view all of the phone’s applications;
- Look carefully for an apps you may be unaware of.
- Option One:
- Option Two:
- Go to your “My Files” or “Files” phone app;
- Select “Downloads”;
- Scroll through your downloads to see if there are any new files that you are unaware of.
- Option Two:
As with an iPhone, restoring your device to factory settings or seeking the help of qualified technical professionals to ensure that you have successfully removed any spyware you have identified is always wise.
- Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Other Smart Technology: Sometimes, one spouse will attempt to use these “drop in” devices to spy on the other. Devices like Alexa, Echo, Google Home, and Siri are very helpful in many ways – but they also have the potential to record things that are being said in the home, sometimes without the knowledge of one of the parties to the conversation. If you believe that this may be a concern in your home, it is always wise to unplug these devices or remove them from the room if you are going to have a private conversation that you wish for others not to hear.
While this advice will hopefully be helpful in allowing you to keep your devices free of unwanted spyware, the truth is that the best steps you can take are to change your passwords frequently, to ensure that your device is not left for long periods of time without your knowledge, and to regularly scan for the presence of any strange apps that you have not installed yourself. In addition to taking these tech-savvy steps, there are also some steps you can take generally to protect your privacy, which are well worth considering.
Other Ways to Protect Your Privacy
Some of the best ways to protect your privacy when it comes to avoided unwanted spying include:
- Do not share your personal account information with your spouse;
- If you have a joint account with your spouse, do not share or store personal information on that account, or use websites you do not want your spouse to know about while you are logged in;
- Be aware of the capabilities of your devices and who has access to them;
- Regularly looking for any signs that your phone may have been accessed without your authorization.
Although these steps will not prevent spying or unauthorized access to your private information 100% of the time, they can be very helpful in reducing the potential for spying, and ensuring that your private information remains that way.
Contact the Law Office of Dustin McCrary Today
No one wants to believe that their spouse may be spying on them – but the truth is that it does happen, and often far more often than most people realize. If you believe that your spouse may be spying on you, or conversely, if you believe that your spouse may be engaging in marital misconduct and you are tempted to spy because you believe it will give you an advantage in your divorce case, we urge you to contact our office instead.
Because divorce is our specialty and the sole focus of our practice, we understand the myriad of issues that accompany spousal spying, and the role that spying may play in the issues that you confront in your divorce process. We can talk you through the legal ramifications of spying, and suggest other ways to obtain information that might be more productive, and more importantly, legally appropriate. The divorce process is difficult and complex, but with the right legal guidance, it is manageable. We are here for you, and we encourage you to call us today. We look forward to helping you soon.