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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > iPhone, iPad & iPod > how do i find out if my iPhone has Spy software?

how do i find out if my iPhone has Spy software?
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May 5, 2009, 08:01 PM
 
... and how would I get rid of it if it does?

TIA!
     
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May 6, 2009, 12:46 AM
 
BEDEVERE: Quiet! Quiet! Quiet! Quiet! There are ways of telling whether it's a SpyPhone ?

VILLAGER #1: Well, you gotta weigh the iPhone.
If it weighs the same as a duck, it's made of wood.
Then you know it would float on water, et voila, you know it's a witch SpyPhone

CROWD: Ohh! Ohh! Burn the SpyPhone! Burn the SpyPhone! Burn it! Burn it! Burn it! Burn it! Burn it! Burn it! Ahh! Ahh...



-t
     
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May 6, 2009, 06:23 AM
 
What makes you think your iPhone has spy software on it?
MBP 15" C2D 2.2GHz 4.0GB 500GB@5400
iPhone 4 32GB Black
     
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May 6, 2009, 08:11 AM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
BEDEVERE: Quiet! Quiet! Quiet! Quiet! There are ways of telling whether it's a SpyPhone ?

VILLAGER #1: Well, you gotta weigh the iPhone.
If it weighs the same as a duck, it's made of wood.
Then you know it would float on water, et voila, you know it's a witch SpyPhone

CROWD: Ohh! Ohh! Burn the SpyPhone! Burn the SpyPhone! Burn it! Burn it! Burn it! Burn it! Burn it! Burn it! Ahh! Ahh...



-t
Well that was fair...

Seriously, what sort of "spy software" might be on an iPhone, and what would give one the idea that it might be there? The iPhone runs a version of OS X (customized for the hardware, of course) so it's pretty darn hard to "accidentally" install software. And it still takes the user's ACTIVE involvement to install stuff on OS X.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
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May 6, 2009, 10:49 AM
 
This thread may have been posted because Kevin Mitnick was on Fox News yesterday (and perhaps elsewhere) talking about phone spyware that can track person, and he mentioned tehre is "professional spyware" available for the iPhone. He said that he owns an iPhone, that spyware is rare, and that updating your firmware should protect you most of the time.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
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May 6, 2009, 12:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
This thread may have been posted because Kevin Mitnick was on Fox News yesterday (and perhaps elsewhere) talking about phone spyware that can track person, and he mentioned tehre is "professional spyware" available for the iPhone. He said that he owns an iPhone, that spyware is rare, and that updating your firmware should protect you most of the time.
Sounds like a load of BS to me.

Unless Apple and the US government is involved in this whole conspiracy, which I find hard to believe.

-t
     
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May 6, 2009, 12:21 PM
 
You're overestimating the US government. But apart from that I agree with you. "Professional iPhone spyware" sounds like a big load of bull.
     
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May 6, 2009, 01:01 PM
 
He was saying that other phones were much more susceptible but that at least there was one piece of software available for the iPhone that would allow a person to track the location of the handset.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
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May 6, 2009, 02:00 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
He was saying that other phones were much more susceptible but that at least there was one piece of software available for the iPhone that would allow a person to track the location of the handset.
In iPhone OS 2, wouldn't that require the app to be actively running, since no background apps are allowed / possible (other than Apple's own apps) ?

Still smells like BS to me.

-t
     
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May 6, 2009, 07:59 PM
 
I spoke with a cop and he told me that if someone can get a hold of my phone for an hour that spy software can be installed. If you do a google search for iPhone spy software, there are all kinds of websites that claim to have it. Problem is I can't find ANYWHERE that has Anti Spy software for the iPhone.

thanks for your help!
     
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May 6, 2009, 08:11 PM
 
You Do Not Have Spyware On Your iPhone.

No One Wants To Spy On You.

Cops Are Generally Computerstupid.
     
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May 7, 2009, 03:50 AM
 
Yeah, since when are traffic cops computer experts?
     
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May 7, 2009, 10:58 AM
 
"Cops" are neither trained in computer forensics nor interested in them. They have technical people who look into things after the fact to do things like capture the kiddie porn that's on the machine and so on. If you're that concerned about this particular "possibility," I'd invest in Reynolds Aluminum...they now offer 100% recycled aluminum foil, so you can have a "green" tinfoil (actually aluminum foil) beanie...

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May 7, 2009, 11:19 AM
 
^

Thanks for the laugh, Glenn.
     
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May 10, 2009, 07:26 PM
 
Lets see, "spy software" for the iPhone would require. 1: a paid developer kit from Apple, 2: to pass screening from Apple, 3: you to go to the app store and buy it, 4: enter your iTunes password 5: (if you used the app store on your computer) sync your iPhone 6: open the program on your iPhone

And even then, once you opened another program, it would stop working until you opened it again.

There is no way to beam or auto-install software to a non-Jailbroken iPhone, so every one of those steps would have to happen (except 5 if you downloaded the app directly to your phone). That's a lot of steps in between you and spyware, so I think you are pretty safe for now. Will you always be safe? No idea, but for now you are fine. Go enjoy your iPhone.
-- Jason
     
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May 11, 2009, 06:48 AM
 
You can install "spy" software on your iPhone but only if it is gaol-broken:

http://www.macworld.com/article/1376...mobilespy.html

However, if you are paranoid about people accessing your iPhone for an hour - make sure you require a secure password to get access to the software (I recommend using Apple's iPhone Utility for this, as you can make it necessary to input a proper password rather than just a 4 digit PIN). There are probably ways around this too if you have the time and access to the hardware, but I doubt an hour would be enough - it takes about that long just to restore the things...
     
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May 12, 2009, 05:47 AM
 
Conspiracy or not.

The iPhone is the wet dream of intelligence agencies.
You don't have to think long to realize that.
Who cares about his/her privacy when you have your favorite game on your phone...
     
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May 12, 2009, 06:06 AM
 
Originally Posted by TechNN View Post
Conspiracy or not.
Not.
     
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May 12, 2009, 07:51 AM
 
Originally Posted by B Gallagher View Post
What makes you think your iPhone has spy software on it?
It called me a.. zune?
     
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May 12, 2009, 01:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
He was saying that other phones were much more susceptible but that at least there was one piece of software available for the iPhone that would allow a person to track the location of the handset.
Keep your phone password protected and you should be fine. Someone needs to load the software on your phone to control it and so far the only way to do that is to have physical access to it.

If your phone is locked at all times (or at least every hour of non-use) and is seldom out of your possession, you have little to fear.

But this software does exist and it is freaky.
     
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May 12, 2009, 11:11 PM
 
dpicardi, can you provide a link or source for the existence of this "freaky" software?
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May 13, 2009, 06:01 AM
 
Um, see my earlier post to the MacWorld story about it or google MobileSpy
     
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May 16, 2009, 11:27 PM
 
Meh, you have to hack the iPhone. Awsome spysoftware

-t
     
JKT
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May 17, 2009, 04:46 PM
 
Given that the OP is talking about having their phone hacked by someone in their absence, I don't see how it is relevant whether it has to be gaol-broken or not ...
     
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May 17, 2009, 04:48 PM
 
Total non-issue. Why has this thread not been locked yet?
     
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May 17, 2009, 06:48 PM
 
Originally Posted by JKT View Post
Um, see my earlier post to the MacWorld story about it or google MobileSpy
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Meh, you have to hack the iPhone. Awsome spysoftware

-t
Originally Posted by JKT View Post
Given that the OP is talking about having their phone hacked by someone in their absence, I don't see how it is relevant whether it has to be gaol-broken or not ...
Either way, it means that someone needs to have the iPhone in their hands for more than just an instant, so it's not something that could be done surreptitiously, nor really covertly. Don't leave the iPhone lying around and that should take care of that. Now what if somebody steals your phone and it's returned later? That might cause me to wipe everything off of it and start fresh; I'd certainly change all my passwords and such. Otherwise this is truly a non-issue.

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May 18, 2009, 09:31 AM
 
Does anyone else have the feeling that this thread was created as an opportunity for someone to "suggest" some commercial product that examines iPhones for malware? I keep waiting for that other shoe to drop and someone to make that suggestion...

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May 18, 2009, 11:13 AM
 
Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised.

You might wanna warm up the ban hammer

-t
     
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May 18, 2009, 12:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
I keep waiting for that other shoe to drop and someone to make that suggestion...
Oh, a honeypot. So that's why this thread hasn't been locked yet.
     
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May 18, 2009, 04:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
Oh, a honeypot. So that's why this thread hasn't been locked yet.
It was quite an interesting discussion at first, but since OP hasn't chimed in again for almost two weeks, and has only his two posts here, I'm thinking there's a real possibility of attracting those bees (or flies).

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May 19, 2009, 02:09 PM
 
so stop posting here or lock it and let it this stupid thread die
     
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May 19, 2009, 06:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by abbaZaba View Post
so stop posting here or lock it and let it this stupid thread die
Except that maybe freddyboy's friend will post and we can achieve two ends with one means...

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
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May 22, 2009, 04:12 PM
 
So far what I've seen is this is the domain of other phones. And it's not some secret agency, it's usually
overly controlling/possessive ex-romantic partners of the people involved. I met a woman just yesterday who
had a controlling/obsessive ex who hid a gps in her car, put spy software on her telephone and her
computers. I had a field day removing that junk from her pc and told her to have her phone wiped at
her cell provider (I believe hers was an LG brand phone) and then she could be sure it was off there.

You can get software to spy on your wife/girlfriend/friend/lover/monkey/pet whatever you want provided you
download and pay for the software and then GAIN PHYSICAL ACCESS TO THEIR PHONE. Not sure about
the iphone itself but it wouldn't surprise me.

I watched a tv news story some weeks back linked to digg.com how this software can allow access to
the phones GPS so you can see where the person you wish to spy on is, you can turn on the microphone
of their phone and listen to what conversations are happening in the vicinity of the phone without it using
airtime among other freaky features like turning the camera on so you can see what they are doing.

The woman in the news story was getting death threats from someone using a voice changer and they
always seemed to know where she was, what she was wearing/doing. They finally had her phone wiped
and then she never let it out of her sight after and the threats stopped. She was high school age and I
bet it was a vindictive ex-boyfriend.

So, if there IS spy software for the iphone you would have had to:
-left your phone unattended for a period of time long enough to let the perpetrator install said software.

So far as I can tell there is no way to just "spy on someones phone without having installed this software".

I'm guessing the legality of this is VERY dubious and before long there will be laws in place to prevent it.
Tech is always ahead of the law from what I can see.

Anyway, it's possible, but very unlikely.
     
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Jun 2, 2009, 04:01 PM
 
thanks for all of your replies everyone. I'm a complete computer and software idiot that's had to do a lot of learning in a hurry to protect my family against someone that is trying to F with us... but I'm not without sense of humor and I did get a kick out of this post:

"Does anyone else have the feeling that this thread was created as an opportunity for someone to "suggest" some commercial product that examines iPhones for malware? I keep waiting for that other shoe to drop and someone to make that suggestion..."

I believe this threat is for real and I can't even legally go in to how or why I know my phone was hacked into. My iPhone was out of my reach at several points with no passcode on it to protect it. I've since reset the phone and leave the passcode on almost all day.
     
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Jun 2, 2009, 04:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by freddyboy View Post
My iPhone was out of my reach at several points with no passcode on it to protect it.
There we go. A classic case of PEBiPAC.
     
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Jun 2, 2009, 06:16 PM
 
By the way, since this thread has now been revived, its worth pointing out that there is now an official way to do this through an app in the Store from Orbicule (though it is being sold as a means of tracking your own iPhone if it gets stolen rather than as a surreptitious means of spying on someone elses use). It doesn't strike me as being particularly useful due to the aforementioned no background process limitation, so not worth the money imo.

Undercover can track down your lost or stolen iPhone, kinda | Software | iPhone Central | Macworld
     
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Jun 4, 2009, 12:01 PM
 
Who the heck lets someone else handle their iPhone without them present? That's a lot of money walking out the door if it gets stolen... I guard mine with my life and the lives of those near and dear to me.
     
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Jun 4, 2009, 09:15 PM
 
So wait.

Its now public knowledge that the FBI can activate the microphone on pretty much ANY cellphone without the user knowing, and this thread is stupid?

We know that pretty much any software platform can be hacked, cracked or in laymans terms, can be compromised. Now it seems to stand up to my way of thinking that if the FBI can figure out how to do it, then the info is in the public domain SOMEWHERE. There are just as many private citizens who are just as determined to make money as the feds are to misuse it.

And we've all see how the FBI and the NSA have been happy to use warrant-less wiretapping. We can assume that its a fairly good certainty that there's software out there to do what the OP was asking for. For the OP.. only thing you can do is wipe your phone and start over from scratch.
Backups are like guns and condoms. It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
     
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Jun 5, 2009, 10:22 AM
 
Originally Posted by bishopazrael View Post
So wait.

Its now public knowledge that the FBI can activate the microphone on pretty much ANY cellphone without the user knowing, and this thread is stupid?
O'Rly ?

Care to share your Public Knowledge" ?
Links, please.

-t
     
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Jun 5, 2009, 12:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by freddyboy View Post
I believe this threat is for real and I can't even legally go in to how or why I know my phone was hacked into.
You come up with whoppers like that and expect us to take it at face value?
     
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Jun 5, 2009, 09:53 PM
 
Turtle,
just google it. Its been admitted to in court as a method they used against the mafia on the eastern seaboard. NY & NJ if I recall correctly. I don't need to supply you with links when you're just as capable of using google as I am. And I've no reason to lie so I take offense to your pleading ignorance when I'm fairly certain you've heard of this before and you're just being coy.

And yes, they surely can. What makes you think they wouldn't be able to? Are you really that blindly trusting of the US government? The same government that had AT&T build in back doors for the NSA? The same government that has been doing warrentless wiretapping on US citizens?

Please. If you are telling me you believe that the government wouldn't do this kind of thing you're more naive than you have a right to be for someone who's been around computers as much as your stars indicate you have been.

Hell... just because I know you're gonna try and come back at me for some goddamn thing here's yer frakin article from Cnet. You can google the rest.

http://news.cnet.com/2100-1029_3-6140191.html
Backups are like guns and condoms. It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
     
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Jun 6, 2009, 11:28 AM
 
Originally Posted by bishopazrael View Post
Turtle,
just google it. Its been admitted to in court as a method they used against the mafia on the eastern seaboard. NY & NJ if I recall correctly. I don't need to supply you with links when you're just as capable of using google as I am. And I've no reason to lie so I take offense to your pleading ignorance when I'm fairly certain you've heard of this before and you're just being coy.

And yes, they surely can. What makes you think they wouldn't be able to? Are you really that blindly trusting of the US government? The same government that had AT&T build in back doors for the NSA? The same government that has been doing warrentless wiretapping on US citizens?

Please. If you are telling me you believe that the government wouldn't do this kind of thing you're more naive than you have a right to be for someone who's been around computers as much as your stars indicate you have been.

Hell... just because I know you're gonna try and come back at me for some goddamn thing here's yer frakin article from Cnet. You can google the rest.

FBI taps cell phone mic as eavesdropping tool - CNET News
Pfff, most links that I could find (including yours) are a lot of speculation and FUD, at least when taking your comment "the FBI can activate the microphone on pretty much ANY cellphone" at face value.

E.g. quoting from your posted link:

One private investigator interviewed by CNET News.com, Skipp Porteous of Sherlock Investigations in New York, said he believed the FBI planted a physical bug somewhere in the Nextel handset and did not remotely activate the microphone. "They had to have physical possession of the phone to do it," Porteous said.
So, it's questionable that w/o physical access, the FBI can do it.

Even Bruce Schneier admits:
I never had any actual evidence one way or the other
Also, it seems like the other option is to use special software on the phones:

An article in the Financial Times last year said mobile providers can "remotely install a piece of software on to any handset, without the owner's knowledge, which will activate the microphone even when its owner is not making a call."
This I don't dispute. And theoretically, should be possible with the iPhone, too, but only with Apple's knowledge and consent.

Btw, my iPhone barely lasts a day with some calls and regular internet use. Do you know how long the iPhone battery would last when constantly transmitting ?
2 hrs ? 3 mours ?

Pretty useless for the purpose of wiretapping.

A 2003 lawsuit revealed that the FBI was able to surreptitiously turn on the built-in microphones in automotive systems like General Motors' OnStar to snoop on passengers' conversations.
When FBI agents remotely activated the system and were listening in, passengers in the vehicle could not tell that their conversations were being monitored.
Complete Apples to Oranges comparison.
OnStar is designed to do that kind of stuff, like remotely shut down the electronics in the car.

-t
     
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Jun 6, 2009, 01:13 PM
 
Fine. Be obtuse. I think everyone here will acknowledge that this is the way of things. First come reports that it "might" be possible or its "technically possible", then a few more hints this is the way its done... then finally it'll come out that the gov't been doing it for years.

Are you that big of a republican that you believe the gov't can do no wrong? That they're that stupid to NOT be able to do it? In any case, I know what I know and you know what you know. My part's been said. Just do me a favor and don't try to sugar coat it or deceive others about this sort of thing by stating what your feelings are as facts.
Backups are like guns and condoms. It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
     
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Jun 6, 2009, 01:39 PM
 
Originally Posted by bishopazrael View Post
In any case, I know what I know and you know what you know.
Dude, you don't know sh!t. And you got no hard facts, just conspiracy theories.
If Schneier has not seen a single hard fact, I think it's more FUD than anything else.

I'm not saying it's impossible, or that it will never happen.
I'm just disputing your matter-of-fact statement that "the FBI can activate the microphone on pretty much ANY cellphone".

But whatever. Meanwhile, just keep polishing your tinfoil hat.

-t
     
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Jun 6, 2009, 03:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Dude, you don't know sh!t. And you got no hard facts, just conspiracy theories.
If Schneier has not seen a single hard fact, I think it's more FUD than anything else.

I'm not saying it's impossible, or that it will never happen.
I'm just disputing your matter-of-fact statement that "the FBI can activate the microphone on pretty much ANY cellphone".

But whatever. Meanwhile, just keep polishing your tinfoil hat.

-t
Turtle

I give up. I'm so ****ing tired of your shazzbutty attitude. Most of your post are about trying to prove someone else wrong and I'm really sick of seeing your piss poor attitude on here towards other members. You're constantly putting people down because YOU think you know it all. Sure you have helpful posts, but more often than not you're being a condescending jacka**. Rather than admit you didn't know that it was technically possible you decided to belittle me for having known about something you admittedly didn't know anything about until yesterday. I'm only speaking for myself but you're really a drag to talk with here on this forum. You can't ever disagree with another member without putting them down and telling them to "polish the tinfoil hat".

frack off.

edit: Furthermore if you read the Cnet article it clearly states, as anyone here can read, that the court ruled it was an acceptable means of wiretapping because they HAVE DONE IT. Reading the whole article shows language like CAN, HAS BEEN USED, or if you like:

"Nextel and Samsung handsets and the Motorola Razr are especially vulnerable to software downloads that activate their microphones, said James Atkinson, a counter-surveillance consultant who has worked closely with government agencies. "They can be remotely accessed and made to transmit room audio all the time," he said. "You can do that without having physical access to the phone."

So take your defense of the government and shove it turtle.

That being said, reading the cnet article clearly shows that the technique HAS been used. The court was asked to rule on it because it had been used, and they needed to make sure that evidence gathered from that technique was admissible. So if it HAS been used your entire post is nothing more than you pontificating your regular drivel.
( Last edited by bishopazrael; Jun 6, 2009 at 03:56 PM. )
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Jun 7, 2009, 12:29 AM
 


Chill out, kiddo.

-t
     
   
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