When we think of a hacker, we might imagine someone in a foreign country. Someone living a very different life to ourselves. Someone who maybe doesn’t even speak the same language as us.
It might be surprising then to hear that you are actually far more likely to be hacked by someone you know, for example, your spouse. Yes, even if they are completely incapable when it comes to technology, the modern availability of the tools required to hack a person’s device has made it as simple as a few taps on a screen and as cheap as $30.
Using software like spyware is not only cheaper, but often much more effective than traditional methods employed by distrustful spouses, such as hiring a private investigator or using physical tracking devices.
Furthermore, this ability to hack someone’s device for very little cost and with little technical know-how has unfortunately led to a sharp rise in technology being used in domestic abuse and stalking cases.
“Demand for spyware detection software has increased by 48% in the last 3 months” – Certo Software
Knowing if your spouse has hacked into your device can be difficult, but this article will provide guidance on how to detect if you have been hacked and what steps you can take if you suspect that you have been.
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The easiest way to find out if your spouse is snooping on your device is to run a quick spyware scan.
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Slightly different to spyware, tracking apps are legitimate apps installed via the official app stores. They are often presented as apps for parents to help monitor their children or other family member’s location and activity.
The problem is that these apps are often abused by people trying to spy on their partners without their knowledge. Because these apps are so readily available, there is no special technical knowledge required to install them – it’s just the same as any other app. They can also be hidden away in subfolders so there’s less chance the device owner will discover them.
Luckily, it’s very easy to remove this type of hack. It’s as simple as uninstalling any other app on your phone.
Pre-existing apps and services
A free and easy alternative to paying for spyware and tracking apps is to use the apps already installed on the victim’s phone. Some of these apps can very easily be manipulated to the hacker’s benefit by changing minor settings that are often overlooked by the user. Four example scenarios using such apps are:
1. Google Maps or Apple’s “Find My iPhone”
Your spouse gets hold of your device and turns on the location sharing option within either of these apps. Once activated, they can then track your location remotely, using their own device.
To check if you’re affected, simply open the app and check if location sharing is turned on. This is different for each app but can be easily turned off.
2. Google Chrome
Your spouse changes the logged-in account from your’s to their own. This allows them to collect all the data from the browser such as websites visited, account passwords, card details and much more.
From within Chrome, you can check which account is logged in by tapping (Menu) > Settings. Make sure that the correct account is being used (make sure it’s not an account created to look similar for example: “[email protected]” instead of “[email protected]”).
3. iCloud/Google account data
If your spouse knows your login details, they can easily access the data that you’re backing up to the cloud. They may even be able to use this data to create a ‘clone’ of your device and gain access to a huge amount of your private information.
It’s harder to know if you’re affected with this method of hacking, however the best way to protect yourself is to enable the Two-factor authentication feature on your account.
This means that even if your spouse knows your login information, they can’t gain access to your account without a special access code sent to you in a text message.
4. WhatsApp Linked devices
Your spouse gets hold of your device and links your WhatsApp with their computer. Once linked, they can view all of your WhatsApp conversations from anywhere right from their computer.
They also have the ability to send messages as you or delete messages that you have received. You can check if your WhatsApp is linked with a computer by opening WhatsApp then tapping Settings > Linked Devices.
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How to keep your phone safe from spying
Once you have taken steps to address any current threats to your privacy, it’s important to continue taking precautions to protect your private data and device security going forward. There are a few best practices to ensure that you stay protected:
- Always keep your phone updated. Phone manufacturers regularly release updates to ensure that users are protected against new hacking methods. It’s always recommended to update as soon as convenient so that your device is fully protected.
- Don’t use the same accounts as your spouse. It’s not unusual for spouses to share accounts, but if you’re worried that this trust is being abused then we recommend using separate accounts so that your important data isn’t shared and easily accessed by the other.
- Use a strong passcode for your device. The best way to protect your phone is to use a passcode that isn’t easily guessed and that only you know. This will reduce a lot of opportunity for spouse hacking, especially with those who are less technically minded. Don’t just use 4-digits either, use as many as possible for your device.
- Reboot your device regularly. As simple as this seems, lots of hacking software relies on the phone being left switched on for long periods of time. This is easily done if you regularly charge your phone or if it rarely runs down over the course of your day. Simply restarting your phone regularly can make a difference.
- Delete any apps you don’t recognize. Any apps you don’t recognize might be spying on you. If you can, delete all of the apps that you didn’t install yourself. Be aware however that most phones will have apps that are pre-installed by the manufacturer and these, in most cases, cannot be removed. If you’re not sure, try Googling the app name.