For some, smartphones are like a weird “toy” that stops you from getting a proper education (how weird is that?!). For others, like myself, is a useful gadget, I really can’t live without. This year, for example, it helped me get back in touch with my high-school colleagues. We wrote ourselves on Facebook and planned a lovely reunion which took place on last Saturday. I don’t think we could have managed to get together just with the help of some good trained pigeons.
But! I have to add a big “but” to this whole idea. Smartphones can turn into a nightmare if you meet one or more brainless persons who know how to use these gadgets in order to make your life a living hell.
Who to blame?
Sometimes, all you need to sign your death sentence is a Facebook status update. On 18 February 2008, Emma Forrester was murdered by her ex-husband, Wayne Forrester. As he confessed then to the police, Wayne was devastated that Emma had changed her relationship status from “married” to “single” a few days after he had moved out.
Surveys found that cyber/digital stalkers are people the victim meets during everyday life; they can be a close friend, a lover, a colleague from work even family members; sometimes the stalker can be the next door neighbor, which helped with domestic issues. Stalkers can also be total strangers the attacked person “meets” online.
In most cases, the harassing begins long before the victim cuts-off the relationship with her/his stalker.
A guide from November 2012, published jointly by the Network for Surviving Stalking and Women’s Aid Federation of England, states that over 50% of ex-partners stalking starts before the love relationship ends.
Stalkers have infinite methods, software, devices to spy on their victims. Software like FlexiSPY, 007 Spy Software, NetVizor and key loggers read passcodes and passwords, intercept phone calls, help stalker to read e-mails, instant or short messages; they also let her/him hear what is going on behind closed doors. Key loggers are criminals’ best weapons when dealing with cyber-fraud, political or industrial espionage. According to a research from 2005, conducted by John Bambenek (SANS Institute), almost 10 million computers from US only were infected with a noxious key logger.
Such type of software and other malware installed on the victim’s phone or computer run in background, making it harder to clear the device. Some uninstalling attempts can be tracked by means of an infected app, making the stalker angrier and doubling his/her efforts.
Malware tracks GPS coordinates or even provides a detailed aspect of the victim’s home. Thanks to today’s social media websites, some stalkers don’t even trouble themselves to hack the victim’s phone. All they have to do is spot a victim’s “bright” “check-in” which provide his/her detailed location.
Knowing the location, it’s a matter of time until the criminal finds his/her victim, whose escaping methods can be ruined using GPS Jammer or Call Jammers. Fortunately there are ways to fight these technologies such as:
- Installing software like Anti Jammer FREE for Android and ThinkRace GPS tracker with anti-jamming system for Android and iOS;
- Use VoIP programs for calls, like Skype;
- Simply drive or walk away from the jammed area, as most of cell phones jammers reach small distances, under 50 feet.
Also Read: A Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Computing
When is good to be spied on.
We put ourselves in a big risk using our smartphone, but this gadget can also save our lives and the lives of our dear ones. Apps like Find My Friends for iPhone and Life 360 for Android allow you to find your family members and friends location on a map, know when they might need help and get alerted when a member/friend reaches the desired destination. These apps prove to be useful especially for parents with small children.
How to get protected?
Be sure you’re adding trustworthy persons to your social media circles and think twice before you’re sharing something or writing an enthusiastic status.
Try these tips too:
- Adjust your social media and browser settings, remove location from photos and tags, from your status and get a grip with those “check-ins”;
- Clear your browsing data (find the option called History in your browser’s settings); you can also use Private browsing option as clearing your browser’s data won’t help in case of key loggers;
- Factory-reset your phone or upgrade its system if you suspect being spied on; it’s a smart move for computers too; change your passwords;
- Turn off your location services in the phone’s settings;
- Check what the Internet has to say about you. Yes, Google yourself!
- Install antivirus/spyware software on your digital devices;
- Use safe apps for calls and instant messaging like Red Phone and Wickr;
- Record harassing communication;
- If you suspect the stalker is a colleague from your workplace, inform your employer about your issue;
- In case the stalker is your partner, never confront him/her directly over this; things could get violent!
- Get institutional help.