This story has been published on a Russian portal Life.ru on June 19th, 2016
In order to catch a cheating wife or husband it’s enough to access their smartphone. It is usually on this gadget that incriminating chats and photos are stored. Many are prepared to use any means to track a cheating partner and even go as far as installing a special spy software.
Russian news portal Life.ru reports that a popular TV anchor Xenia Borodina(in the photo above) has dumped her last boyfriend Kurban Omarov because she had been spying on him and probably found signs of his infidelity. Her former ex Michail has revealed in an interview how Xenia was obsessed with spying on her men, and this was what has led to her recent break-up. Psychologists claim that such a privacy violation inevitably leads to breaking the relationship. Meanwhile, Life.ru found how to install spyware on an iPhone, what kind of cell phone spy apps are on the market and how to detect them.
At first, iPhone seems like a fortress. App Store includes only meticulously moderated apps and it’s getting harder and harder to penetrate the device without the owner’s permission: Apple has increased the default password’s length to six characters and introduced a fingerprint scanner that controls access.
To feel safe it’s enough to maintain simple security measures: not to reveal your passcode, not to leave your smartphone unattended and scan the device for unwanted apps.
But even such vigilance might be insufficient. There are already apps available that might be installed on the device and transmit to the crook all the important data - from text messages to passwords.
How to Install a Spy App
1. The Enterprise MDM (Mobile Device Management) method
Since iOS version 3.0 Apple allows to connect an iPhone to a corporate MDM - mobile device management. The phone receives a certificate with which apps can be signed, so that the MDM operator can remotely install apps on multiple iPhones at once. The apps are installed from an .ipa file bypassing the App Store. The spying ability using this method is somewhat minimal: the operating system itself stays closed (spy app cannot retrieve logs from the system partition) and the app icons are all present on the home screen.
The only way to hide such a spy app is to move the icon to some kind of “Junk” folder, where unused apps are usually stored. If that folder contains nine apps, the tenth will go to a second page and thus practically disappear from the view. Spying abilities will still be very limited this way.
At least, a spy app will be able to take photos (even on a locked phone), record voice and retrieve files from the open iCloud Documents folder and then send all those to the perpetrator.
The cons of this method are obvious:
- Easy to get caught
- Limited Functionality
- 3. Battery is heavily used which will make the phone’s user suspicious.
Hence, corporate domains are not the best option for advanced spying.
2. The Jailbreak Method
The jailbreak has been around even longer than the App Store. Hackers crack the iOS and get access to the file system. Each year it gets more and more complicated to infiltrate the operating system. Apple fights against the hackers because among other things, jailbreak allows downloading pirated software. Jailbreak also allows to customize look and feel of the phone and tweak the user interface.
Xenia has probably used this method if we’re allowed to guess.
Here are the steps to use it:
1. Get the phone of the target user while they’re not aware (the passcode must be known)
2. Install a jailbreak. It usually takes less than an hour and a detailed guide is available on the website …
3. Purchase and install the cell phone spy app.
4. Activate the spy app and hide the Cydia app (which is used for the jailbreak). Obviously, the spy app will be hidden by default.
The best iPhone spy apps
Some of the common spy apps are FlexiSpy, mSpy, Highster Mobile, Spyera and Spy Agent. Their abilities are amazing: those who have installed them, can access all the passwords (including the passwords for social networks), notifications, texts, GPS-locations, browser history, camera, SMS and calls.
The differences between these apps are tiny. For example, Highster doesn’t record calls, Spyera doesn’t take screenshots, while FlexiSpy and SpyAgent can hide from Spotlight search. mSpy’s creators promise a no-jailbreak spying, but then it all goes down to loading data from the iCloud (password must be known to do that).
On Android smartphones, root access is needed instead of a jailbreak, and spyware hides itself not from Spotlight search but from the process list. Otherwise, it’s all very similar: if you don’t suspect anything, you’d never guess that someone is spying on you.
How to Know if Someone is spying on you
There are four ways to detect a cell phone spy app.
1. Scan the iPhone for the presence of Cydia app. Usually it is hidden from the home screen but still can be found in Spotlight search (type Cydia in the search bar).
2. mSpy is activated by typing a code in Spotlight. Type 4433*29342 in the search bar. If the iPhone reboots, you know that mSpy is installed.
3. The most reliable method is to connect the iPhone to your computer and browse its file system using iFunbox or another file manager software. Look at the Applications folder for any suspicious app. It should contain only Apple’s apps. If you see Cydia there, it means that you’re being spied on.
4. Another option is the paid Certo software which can detect spyware on 249 different devices. A budget scan will cost $27 while premium unlimited usage costs $247.
How to protect your privacy
Here are six simple rules to protect you from spying
1. Don’t give you smartphone to someone else. To install the majority of cell phone spy apps, physical access to the phone is essential.
2. Never share your iCloud credentials with anybody. With the knowledge of your credentials practically anything on your phone can be spied on: photos, app data, call logs and texts. If you ever had to give someone your username and password, remember that iCloud backup can be disabled. If you need to let children download apps using your account, you can use the Family Sharing option. It allows you to share apps without giving away your password.
3. Always use the latest iOS version. Updated iOS versions usually are not vulnerable to a jailbreak, and without access to the file systems spy apps are very limited.
4. If you are wary of spying, don’t share your cell phone number. Private darknet forums advertise spying on any phone using SS7 vulnerabiliites, and it only costs 10 bitcoins (roughly $7000).
5. Regularly scan the phone for suspicious apps in Android process list or iOS search and settings. Especially look for the word “Cydia” in different folders.
6. Don’t trust anyone but yourself.