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How to remove spyware from your phone

Protect yourself from surveillance

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Intimate partner violence is a problem for 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men. If you’re a victim, we hope this provides you with some practical tools for how to protect yourself from unwanted surveillance.

Spyware is software that enables a user to obtain information about another’s computer activities by transmitting data covertly from their hard drive.

To keep on top of what’s happening in your phone it’s a good idea to check out the apps installed on your phone every once in a while. On Android, it’s the Apps menu in Settings. On iOS, you can go to General then Apps to see what’s installed. Then, use a quick web search to look up anything you don’t recognize or remember installing.

By its very nature, stalkerware is designed to be well-hidden and hard to detect. However, it’s also difficult for something to stay on your laptop or smartphone for long if you’re specifically looking for it.

Below are the best steps to getting as much spyware off of your phone. Do note that the only way to really get your phone to be free from spyware is to do a factory reset.

Remove spy software from Android

If you want to check spying tools on an Android device, go to the Settings and proceed to Applications. Then, go to Running Services and see what services are currently running. If you find any unknown service, tap it and uninstall it after clearing the cache.

You can also check for spying software in the Manage Application screen and follow the same process if you come across any malicious tool.

Again, the best chance you have of being spyware free is to do a factory reset.

Remove spy software from iPhone

The simplest way of removing spyware from an Apple mobile device is to simply do a software update. If you’ve jailbroken your phone, you’ll want to restore it to the original operating system.

Jailbroken phones are actually much less secure. The vast majority of commercially available iPhone spyware requires the device to be jailbroken in order to function.  Jailbreaking is the process of un-restricting the device so that third party applications that have not been approved by Apple, like spyware, can be installed.

Installing the latest iOS update removes the jailbreak, thus causing any spyware installed on the device to no longer function.

On the device:

1. Go to “Settings”
2. Tap “General”
3. Then tap “Software Update”

OR

On your computer:

1. Open iTunes on your PC or Mac
2. Connect your iOS device
3. Select your iPhone or iPad when it appears on iTunes
4. In the summary pane click “Check for Update”

To be extra safe, perform a factory reset

This is a more thorough removal method. This erases all data from the device and installs the latest iOS software, returning it to its original ‘factory’ state. You should perform a backup of your device using iTunes or iCloud before doing a factory reset so that you can restore all of your personal data again when finished.

1. Open iTunes on your PC or Mac
2. Connect your iOS device
3. Select your iPhone or iPad when it appears in iTunes
4. In the summary pane click “Restore iPhone” or “Restore iPad” depending on your device
5. Click “Restore” again to confirm
6. The device will then restore to factory settings and restart, this may take several minutes to complete
7. When completed you will have the option to restore from a backup to restore all of your personal data to the device

Parental monitoring

There are many other products that are similar to spyware, such as parental monitoring programs. Unlike spyware, most parental monitoring programs are visible on the phone. This means that you can see that some type of monitoring service is running on the phone.

Go through your phone to see if an app was installed without your knowledge. There are some parental monitoring programs that are hidden and can’t be seen by scrolling through the phone’s apps. In this case, resetting the phone to factory setting should also remove the parental monitoring program.

When a factory reset is not enough

While the best chance you have of removing spyware is to do a factory reset, this isn’t a guarantee either. From my time in China, some friend of mine would just get a new phone when they figured out my device had spyware on it.

If you’re dealing with sensitive information, I know many executives that have a secondary phone for travel to countries where spyware is a greater risk.

How do I preserve evidence of mobile spyware?

If you’re a victim of intimate partner abuse you may want preserve evidence. It is illegal to install spyware on devices for the purpose of spying or stalking another person. If you choose to remove the spyware, it will also remove the evidence.

If your goal is to preserve the phone for evidence, it is important to work with local police, who may have a specific process on analyzing mobile phones for evidence purposes. Until you speak to the police, it is best to put the phone in airplane mode and keep the phone’s battery charged.

This article also appears on Mobile Geeks in German

Apps

Singpass app now available on Huawei AppGallery

Easier access for Huawei users

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Singpass

Huawei continues to beef up the AppGallery’s library of apps. One of the latest additions is Singpass.

Singpass is an app that gives Singapore residents easy access to over 1,400 everyday services from more than 340 government agencies and private organizations. These include viewing their Central Provident Fund (CPF), filing taxes with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), accessing bank accounts and renewing insurance policies — with a quick scan and tap on their smartphones. Users do not have to
enter their passwords.

Singpass was developed by the Government Technology Agency or GovTech. It was launched in 2003 to facilitate convenient digital transactions with Singapore government agencies.

Since then, the service has been further enhanced to include an improved user interface, mobile features and stronger security capabilities. Its latest features include Singpass Face Verification, Digital IC and digital signing.

The launch of the Singpass app on AppGallery offers local users of Huawei devices a third 2FA method when accessing services, in addition to the SMS One-Time Password (OTP) and Singpass Face Verification 2FA modes. As of March 2021, the Singpass app has garnered over 2.5 million users, with over 70 percent of all Singpass transactions conducted through the app.

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Apple’s Find My service can now locate e-bikes, earbuds

Making it easier to find your lost accessories

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Apple’s Find My iPhone helps you locate a lost iPhone by signing into your Apple ID. Similar tracking service is also available on Android. Though, Apple is now opening up the service to third-party accessories.

Find My was originally announced last summer at WWDC 2020 and builds on an existing service called Find My iPhone. Apple has initially partnered with Belkin, Chipolo, and VanMoof that will bring their new devices eligible for the Find My network program starting next week.

Currently, three products are supported — VanMoof’s S3 and X3 e-bikes, Belkin’s Soundform Freedom True Wireless Earbuds, and Chipolo ONE Spot tracker.

Any hardware company can introduce gadgets that support Apple’s service — as long as they adhere to the Made for iPhone (MFi) Program and privacy protocols of the Find My network. The user will see all the devices on a map and even control them remotely, like playing a sound, displaying a message, or erasing it completely.

If the device is offline, Find My network’s crowdsourced Bluetooth feature can show an approximate location. The company also announced a draft specification for chipmakers that will allow accessories to tap into the iPhone’s ultra Wideband chip, giving more accurate location information. The entire network uses end-to-end encryption to keep your information, and your device’s location, private.

There was initial speculation that Apple could also launch its own “AirTags” alongside the rollout, however, that announcement wasn’t made. All Find My items or devices will have a “Works with Apple Find My” badge. In case a lost gadget is found by someone, they can use their Find My app to identify and report the found item.

While the feature won’t be very useful instantly because of limited compatible devices, we expect Apple to announce more partnerships and options at WWDC 2021. As long as your iPhone, iPad, or Mac is running iOS 14.3, iPadOS 14.3, or macOS Big Sir 11.1, respectively, the

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Personal data, phone numbers of 533 million Facebook users leaked

A 2019 leak has reemerged

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Data from hundreds of millions of Facebook users was leaked online, including personal information such as phone numbers, full names, and email addresses. The data belongs to 533 million users across 106 countries.

The data is believed to be more than a year old, but security experts say the information could still be used by criminals to commit identity theft or fraud. The development was shared by the chief technology officer of cybercrime intelligence firm Hudson Rock, Alon Gal, and was first reported by Business Insider.

That data included records on 32 million users in the United States, 11 million users in the United Kingdom, and six million in India. The details include names, gender, occupation, marital and relationship status, the date of joining, and workplace.

“This is old data that was previously reported on in 2019,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “We found and fixed this issue in August 2019.” However, experts believe the data is still freely flowing on forums, the dark web, and community sites. According to Vice Motherboard, a Telegram bot lets hackers find a user’s info (provided if it is breached) by entering known credentials like username, email ID, or phone number.

Even though the leaked data is a couple of years old, it could provide valuable information to cybercriminals, Gal added. There’s isn’t much Facebook can do as the database is now freely flowing on the internet. The incident does serve as a reminder to users that their data is susceptible, and they should be careful about freely sharing it with third-party sites.

The incident also focuses on Facebook’s long-term responsibility of managing and securing collected data to ensure it isn’t weaponized easily. The Cambridge Analytics scandal was just the tip of the iceberg, and it’s getting harder and harder for Facebook to justify its ad and interests-based business model.

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