Can Someone Spy on Me through My Phone Camera?

Chris Thompson

By Chris Thompson


For most people, the idea of your phone camera being hacked is a very worrying prospect. It’s a natural thing, we don’t like the idea of being spied on 24/7, and we especially don’t want someone actually watching us.

Being worried about the cameras on our devices spying on us is nothing new – people have been covering their laptop webcams with tape for years now. However, most people would be shocked to know that commercially-available spyware does exist and is specifically designed to hack a mobile device’s camera without the user being any the wiser.

Is your camera hacked?

Run a quick scan with one of our award-winning apps to uncover spyware and other threats on your phone.

As well as being widely available, these spyware products are available for as little as $30 per month, and some can even be used for free for a limited time.

The availability of these relatively easy-to-use tools also means that the technical ability needed to hack a victim’s phone and use the camera to spy on them has been dramatically reduced. In theory, all someone would need to do is install this spyware onto the target device and follow the instructions provided by the developer.

In most cases, however, a hacker would require physical access to the device they are looking to infiltrate, for a short time. They need the opportunity to install the spyware they want to use to control the device’s camera and any prerequisites such as a jailbreak.

How Can Spyware Control Your Phone’s Camera?

There are various spyware products available on the market, many of which are competing based on the features they can offer to their users. Hackers sometimes make use of these features to blackmail their victims, or they sell their photos and videos to people on the black market. Some of those features include:

  • Photo capture – There are many different spyware products that can secretly take photos from a phone camera (either front and back). This is done remotely and again, the victim is completely unaware. All the photos are automatically uploaded to a cloud server where they can be accessed from anywhere in the world.
  • Video recording – Spyware such as FlexiSPY can take a video using the phone’s camera. It’s discreet – recording the video without the victim knowing anything. The video will then be uploaded directly to an online database.
  • Remote camera monitoring – Alongside being able to capture video and photos, perhaps one of the most worrying features is the ability to watch someone ‘live’ through their phone’s camera. This could potentially allow the hacker to broadcast the video live onto streaming sites, or even on the dark web.

How to Tell if Your Phone Camera Is Hacked

The methods used to hack and install the type of spyware that can control your phone’s camera, are not easily detectable. Therefore, spotting them can be difficult if you don’t know where to look.

However, there are still some tell-tale signs you can look out for as well as specialist apps that can help. We’ll guide you through these below:

Phone is behaving strangely

Look out for things like your phone getting hot when you’re not using it, your battery running out faster than usual or your data usage being unexpectedly high. These could all be signs that a spy app is constantly running in the background recording you or taking photos.

Keep in mind, however, that these signs alone are not always definitive indicators that you are being watched. There could be other explanations such as an aging phone, a technical issue or a legitimate app running in the background.

Run a spyware scan

Almost all phone camera hacking occurs as a result of spyware on the victim’s phone, so running a spyware scan should be a top priority if you’re worried your camera is being used to spy on you.

Use one of Certo’s award-winning apps to quickly check your phone for spyware and other threats in a matter of minutes. The scanning process is a little different for Android and iPhone, so we’ll guide you through the steps for each below:

Check Android for camera spyware

  1. Download Certo Mobile Security.
  2. Open the app and tap Scan.
  3. Wait for the scan to complete.
  4. Tap Remove next to any threats found.

How to check an Android phone for a hacked camera

Fig 1. Android spyware scan

Check iPhone for camera spyware

  1. Download Certo AntiSpy to your computer.
  2. Connect your phone via USB.
  3. Click Scan and wait for it to complete.
  4. Tap Remove next to any threats found.

Fig 2. iPhone spyware scan

Unknown apps have access to camera

When setting up a spy app on your phone, the hacker will sometimes need to grant it permission to access your camera. This allows the app to take photos and videos in the background without you knowing. Therefore, checking all the apps on your phone that have access to your camera can be a good way to find out if it’s hacked.

Certo’s apps for iPhone and Android can automatically check this for you. Or, to check manually, just follow these steps:

For iPhone

  1. Open your Settings app.
  2. Tap Privacy & Security.
  3. Tap Camera.
  4. Review the list of apps with access and remove any you don’t recognize.

For Android

  1. Open your Settings app.
  2. Tap Privacy.
  3. Tap Permission manager.
  4. Tap Camera.
  5. Review the list of apps with access and remove any you don’t recognize.

Camera is in use unexpectedly

Most phones will now give you a warning when your camera is being accessed by an app on your device. This can be a great way to spot camera monitoring spyware on your device.

For Android devices, if you are running Android OS 12 or newer then a small green dot will appear at the top right of the screen when the camera is in use. Swipe down from the top of the screen and tap the camera icon to see which app is using the camera.

Fig 3. Android camera in use

For iPhones, a small green dot will also appear at the top right of the screen when your camera is being accessed. Swipe down from the top of the screen to see the name of the app currently using it.

Fig 4. iPhone camera in use

How to Protect Your Phone Camera from Spying

Update your OS and apps

One of the simplest yet most effective ways to protect your phone is to keep your operating system and apps updated. Hackers often exploit outdated software to access your camera.

Regular updates patch security vulnerabilities and close loopholes that could be used for spying. To streamline this process, consider enabling automatic updates for both your operating system and apps.

Use a case with a camera cover

Physical safeguards can also be highly effective. Many phone cases now come with a built-in slider that covers your camera when it’s not in use. This simple yet practical feature ensures that your camera can’t be used to spy on you without your knowledge, even if you’re targeted with the most technically sophisticated spyware.

Camera blocking case for phone

Image credit:

Have a strong passcode

A strong passcode is vital in protecting your phone from malware that could hijack your camera for spying. Such malware often relies on exploiting weak security, like simple passcodes, to gain access to your device.

By setting a complex and unique passcode, you create a significant barrier against unauthorized access, reducing the risk of spyware installation.

We recommend choosing a passcode that is at least 8 characters and is comprised of both letters and numbers.

Enable Lockdown mode (iPhone only)

For iPhone users, Apple’s introduced a new feature called Lockdown Mode in iOS 16. This is particularly useful for combatting sophisticated spyware like Pegasus and Predator.

When activated, Lockdown Mode restricts certain device features, making it more difficult for advanced spyware to remotely access your iPhone’s camera.

Final Thoughts

The threat of phone cameras being hacked is a real concern for many people. The availability of commercially-available spyware, which is easy to use and readily available, has made it easier for hackers to infiltrate devices and spy on victims.

The impact of this can be significant, including the ability to remotely capture photos and videos, monitor live footage, and sell the content on the black market.

To protect against phone camera hacking, ensure you have a strong passcode, keep your operating system up-to-date and never leave your device unattended.

Additionally, running a spyware scan using a trusted app, checking which apps have access to your camera, and staying vigilant is crucial in keeping your phone camera secure.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can hackers watch through your camera?

If a hacker installs spyware on your phone then there is a good chance they will be able to access your camera and turn it on/off as they please. They may also be able to access any photos or videos you have previously taken.

If someone hacks my iCloud can they see my camera?

If a hacker breaks into your iCloud account then they will be able to see photos and videos taken with your iPhone camera, if you sync this data to iCloud.

However, they will not be able to directly access your camera to perform any sort of real-time monitoring.

Can your phone microphone be hacked?

Many spy apps exist that have the ability to listen to you through your phone’s microphone. These apps could use it to record your phone calls or, more worryingly, listen in real-time to any conversations you have when your phone is nearby.

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