I used to have a creepy ex-bf. An unpleasant character who always needed to be in control. One day I removed his power over me which directly led to a series of events involving him lying in wait for me, following me ‘in the bushes’* and hacking into my Hotmail account with my mother’s maiden name. I twigged on after he paid me a visit one evening, bringing up topic after topic of information he shouldn’t have known about my life.
Around about the same time, I found out that my boss was reading all the emails sent and received by the company (including my own, although he once asked me to monitor his emails, and must have removed mine temporarily from the list – thus giving me confidence to continue foolishly using the work email as if it was personal). He loved that he knew what everyone was doing and that they didn’t know.
That was 2003. Ten years on, with the successful advent of smartphones, there is a more sophisticated way to spy on your ex or your employees. Spyware on phones has a definition close to ‘does what it says on the tin’. It enables you, the psychopathic one, the voyeuristic or bullying boss, to spy on the mobile activities of the victim.
What’s even better, is that several of these apps are free. You don’t even need money to behave this way. A quick download and a couple of minutes with the victim’s phone and you can see call logs, messages, browsing history. Some programs (the paid ones probably) even let you listen to recorded calls.
Don’t worry, the usual standard of victim** won’t be able to find the identifying files left behind by the apps (although they’re not as invisible as the software companies say). There are only two ways you can be thwarted.
1. The victim can reset his/her phone to factory defaults. This doesn’t solve all spyware issues, but it does work for a majority.
2. The victim can download an app called Anti Spy Mobile FREE or any similar, and the app can then periodically scan the device, alert the victim if there is evidence of spyware on the phone, and assist in the removal of the software.
It doesn’t solve the problem as to why people behave in these liberty-denying, controlling ways, but it gives the victim a slight chance in a world where the odds are stacked in favour of the bullies. You don’t need evidence if you can deal with it yourself.
* as he told to a friend of mine.
**clue: don’t seek out a victim who is also an IT engineer.