When most people hear the word ‘spyware’ they might imagine some complicated piece of software used by governments to spy on each other. Maybe something that only the greatest of technical minds can fathom.
However, in reality, quite the opposite is true.
Yes, contrary to common belief, spyware can be both incredibly simple and incredibly cheap. These factors combined mean that the risk of becoming a victim of spyware is unfortunately much more of a common prospect these days.
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What is mSpy?
One of the most popular commercially sold spyware products on the market is mSpy, and is available for as little as $30.
mSpy has always claimed to be a parental control tool, but there’s more than enough evidence to show that they aren’t shy about marketing themselves as outright spyware, as can be seen in one of their promoted Tweets. This image clearly shows that mSpy are targeting people worried about their partner’s trustworthiness.
Add to that some of the customer reviews left for mSpy and you begin to get an insight into how their apps are often used:
“Very good application. Any place, I can detect my husband. Love tracking messages and calls.” 5 stars – App Store
“Its a nice experience tracking my wife’s location” 5 stars – App Store
“Actually, I have bought this service to monitor my ******* cheating girl. On the one side, I am really disappointed because my girl dating other men. But on the other side, maybe, this service saved my future.” 5 stars – Trustpilot
“Thanks to mSpy, I was able to find out the truth about my relationship and catch my boyfriend cheating. If you’re struggling with trust issues in your relationship, I highly recommend giving mSpy a try.” 5 stars – Sitejabber
When you look at the bigger picture, it’s clear that mSpy is designed to be intrusive. In particular, a few of the features listed on the mSpy website make it a very invasive piece of software, such as:
- SMS and call tracking and interception.
- Read a victim’s emails.
- Track GPS locations.
- Monitor third party messenger apps (such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp).
- Remaining completely hidden from the user.
On that note, we think that it’s extremely important for iPhone users to be able to detect whether or not mSpy has been installed, and also hopefully work out who is responsible for hacking their device.
How to tell if mSpy is installed on your iPhone
mSpy has a number of products that facilitate spying on iPhones. They each work differently, and the methods used to detect them therefore vary. Below we’ll give an overview of each of the available spying methods and how to detect them on iPhone:
1. mSpy iPhone Monitoring
What is it?
This is the main mSpy product and is also the most intrusive. It’s a spy app that is installed directly on an iPhone and requires the hacker to jailbreak the device.
Once installed, hackers will get unrestricted access to vast amounts of your personal information and can remotely track and monitor your activity on an ongoing basis as long as the software remains undetected – which is likely as this particular spyware can be completely hidden.
It can even record every keystroke you input into your iPhone, which also means that the hacker could potentially get access to any of your online account passwords. That could mean banking, email, shopping accounts, etc. are all compromised and could cause huge financial and time costs for you as the victim.
How to detect?
The easiest way to detect mSpy on an iPhone is to use an anti-spyware tool, such as Certo AntiSpy. Here are the steps to uncover mSpy on your device:
- Download Certo AntiSpy to your computer.
- Plug in your iPhone using the USB cable.
- Click Scan.
2. mSpy Lite
What is it?
This app is available directly from Apple’s App Store and therefore has more limited tracking capabilities than the full spy app described above. However, it still gives the hacker the ability to track their victim’s location anywhere in the world in real-time.
mSpy Lite is very easy to set up, no jailbreak is required and all the hacker needs to do is get hold of the victim’s phone for a few minutes and install the app.
Even though this app is not able to be completely hidden from a victim, it’s still possible to disguise this app and hide it amongst other apps on a device.
How to detect?
There are a few ways you can detect if mSpy Lite is installed on your iPhone.
- Run a scan with Certo AntiSpy, which will alert you if any spyware or location-tracking apps are present on your device.
- Check for the mSpy Lite app on your home screen. Make sure to check app folders too, as hackers often try to hide apps there.
- Check which apps have access to your location as mSpy Lite will need this in order to track you. You can review apps under Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services.
3. mSpy iCloud Monitoring
What is it?
Referred to as a “No Jailbreak” solution, mSpy’s iCloud Monitoring product works by accessing the victim’s iCloud account and stealing data that they have synced from their phone. This can include messages, photos, contacts and more.
As all of the data is accessed via iCloud, it does not require an app to be installed on the target phone and so can be a way for a hacker to spy on someone’s phone activity remotely. It does, however, require the hacker to know the victim’s iCloud login credentials in order to set it up.
How to detect?
Since nothing is installed on the victim’s iPhone during the attack, detecting iCloud Monitoring is not quite as simple as finding and deleting an app. To make things even more difficult, Apple does not provide access logs for iCloud accounts, which would be useful when trying to investigate any unauthorized access.
That said, if Apple does detect a suspicious login to your iCloud account, they will typically send you an email to alert you with the time and location of the login.
Furthermore, all iCloud accounts now have two-factor authentication, which means for someone to access your iCloud account with mSpy they would need to know your password AND have access to one of your devices in order to receive a 6-digit code.
It’s also worth noting that Apple introduced Advanced Data Protection in iOS 16, which provides end-to-end encryption for your iCloud synced data. If this setting is enabled for your iCloud account then it would be impossible for mSpy or any other services to access your data from iCloud, even if the hacker has the ability to log in to your account.
How to remove mSpy from iPhone
If you’ve found mSpy on your iPhone with one of the above methods then you’ll probably want to remove it fairly quickly. Below we describe four ways you can quickly remove mSpy from your iPhone and get your privacy back.
1. Use Certo AntiSpy
An anti-spyware app, like Certo AntiSpy, is the best way to find and remove mSpy from your iPhone or iPad. Certo AntiSpy can detect all versions of mSpy that are installed on your device, even if they have been hidden by the hacker. Once detected, just click the Remove button and Certo will either remove the threat automatically or, if unable to do this, provide simple step-by-step instructions to remove mSpy for good.
Remove mSpy from iPhone
Certo AntiSpy can scan and remove mSpy from your iPhone in a matter of minutes.
2. Look for and delete hidden apps
Most spyware solutions offered by mSpy require an app to be installed on the device. Finding and removing this app will ensure that you are no longer being monitored. The easiest way to do this is to search your device for any apps that you don’t recognize.
To show a list of all installed apps on your device go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage. Look for any apps called ‘mSpyLite’, ‘mLite’, ‘mSpy’ or ‘iPhoneInternalService’ and delete them if found. Keep in mind however that mSpy could rename their apps at any time so be vigilant for any apps that look suspicious.
mSpy’s most powerful spyware product, iPhone Monitoring, requires the victim’s phone to be jailbroken. If the device is no longer jailbroken then the spyware will cease to function.
Fortunately, performing a simple iOS update will remove any jailbreak present on an iPhone and therefore remove mSpy from your device. Go to Settings > General > Software Update to check for and install any available iOS updates.
4. Change your Apple ID password
If you’ve been targeted by mSpy iCloud Monitoring then changing your Apple ID password is the best way to lock hackers out of your iCloud account.
To regain access, they would need to work out your new password and have physical access to your device. So make sure you have a good unlock passcode for your device too.
You can change your Apple ID password on your iPhone by going to Settings > Your Name > Sign-In & Security > Change Password.
5. Factory reset
This should be treated as a last resort but resetting your iPhone back to factory condition is a very effective way of removing mSpy and other spyware from your device. To factory reset go to Settings > General > Transfer or Reset iPhone > Erase All Content and Settings.
Doing this will erase all data from your device, including photos, messages and apps, so make sure you have everything backed-up beforehand.