DANGEROUS apps that allow someone to remotely read your texts and track your location may be lurking on your smartphone.
Called stalkerware, the apps have exploded in popularity in recent years and are commonly used by vile snoopers to keep tabs on their partners.
What is stalkerware?
Stalkerware apps give snoopers a way to remotely track your texts and call.
The apps, sold openly online, can even help someone track your location, pick through your internet history and watch you through your camera.
Known as stalkerware, or "spousewear", the powerful surveillance tools are available on the Google Play and Apple App stores.
Once installed on a phone, typically without the victim's permission, the stalker has access to everything they do.
That means they can record the screen, track the phone's GPS and even access the camera to spy on what the victim is doing.
Stalkerware apps are often used by jealous creeps to track their partners, but they can also be used by parents to keep an eye on their children.
Examples include SpyPhone Android Rec Pro, FlexiSpy, PhoneSpector, Mobile Tracker, FoneMonitor, Spyera, SpyBubble, Spyzie, Android Spy, and Mobistealth.
Once on your phone, they're designed to be difficult to detect, but there are few ways you can hunt them down.
How to remove stalkerware on iPhone
Fortunately for iPhone users, Apple's approach to app safety and security means it's almost impossible to install stalkerware on your mobile.
The company simply doesn't let apps access enough of your iPhones tool to make it a good enough snooping device.
That could change, however, if your iPhone is jailbroken – a complicated process that removes the limitations on your mobile set by Apple.
Once jailbroken, you iPhone is no longer protected by the restrictions set by Apple, theoretically allowing someone to install stalkerware.
Chances are, this hasn't happened, as the jailbreaker would need to be tech-savvy and have your iPhone for a considerable length of time.
Apps called Cydia and SBSettings on your home screen are a sign your phone may have been jailbroken.
However, if you do fear your iPhone has been jailbroken, you can simply perform a factory reset of the device.
This will wipe all of your photos, texts and other data, so make sure to backup your mobile first.
How to spot stalkerware on Android
It's a lot easier for snoopers to download stalkerware on an Adroid device than an iPhone.
Signs you have become the victim of an Android stalkerware attack include a surge in data usage, sudden pop-ups and battery drain.
Possibly the easiest way to check whether you've been infected is with an anti-virus software.
Kaspersky Lab's tool, for instance, specifically scans your phone for stalkerware as well as other viruses.
"We believe users have a right to know if such a program is installed on their device," Kaspersky Lab researcher Alexey Firsh said last year.
"Our alert will help them to do that and assess the risk properly."
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