Maybe you are a wannabe hacker who wants to improve your skills or maybe you’re a concerned parent who wants to keep an eye on a child. Regardless, if you want to hack a cell phone without the person knowing, there are a couple of ways that you could do it.
Keep in mind that when you are talking about “hacking”, it’s easy to get into things that are illegal and the term itself is kind of loaded in that way.
We aren’t promoting any illegal activity here but by the end of the article, you should have a better understanding of some of the ways by which cell phones can be hacked. Some of these methods can all be used in legal ways but we will also dive into some other methods.
Using Spy Applications
Obviously, if you are hacking somebody’s phone, you want to do it without him or her knowing and spy apps are one way to do this.
There are a few notable spy apps such as mSpy, Flexispy, and Cocospy. These are big with consumers because the target will be unable to detect them. Simply put, these are applications that make it easy for you to gain access to information on the target’s phone.
However, they could also be used to extract information in the event of an emergency (when your phone is damaged or stolen). Parents use these apps to keep track of their children and loved ones and employers also use these apps to monitor their employees.
Not only is this the easiest way to get ahold of information but it’s also the most affordable as these apps are often free to download (though some of them might demand a fee after that). They are also available for both Android and iOS devices.
Software Download vs. Remote Access
When you are using spy applications such as those mentioned above, there are two ways to go about it. Typically, you’ve got to install the app on the target phone but some of them offer remote ways of accessing a phone. Either way, you’ll need to obtain something, whether it’s a bit of information or the phone itself.
Some apps will require you to jailbreak or root the phone, both of which are ill-advised. While jailbreaking and rooting might allow you to do more things, they open up the phone to malware and can create lasting damage.
You can jailbreak your own cell phone if you wanted to and it would give you access to more customization’s but as far as gaining access to other phones, you basically have two options:
If you have to go this route, you will need to get the actual phone, which can be a challenge if you’re trying to do this without anyone knowing. Once you have the phone, you need to install the spy app.
Once the app is installed, you’ll obviously want to hide it if you can and you’ll be able to access the phone remotely. The spy app links to an online dashboard, where it uploads information, and you just need to log in to access it.
If the device you want to access is an iOS device, you can get into the system remotely with some of these apps but you’ll need the individual’s iCloud credentials. Through the spy app, you can enter the person’s iCloud information and get access to his or her backups.
However, this is contingent on the individual’s iCloud settings. It’s better if the phone is set to back up information automatically. This way, the information will be recent and relevant. Otherwise, you may need to get a hold of the phone to change the settings.
What Can You Do Once You Are in?
Installing software on somebody’s phone gives you greater access than you’d have if you only accessed his or her iCloud account. Some of the best features of these spy apps include:
Call Logging: You could access the individual’s caller history and see who he or she has been talking to, when he or she talked to those people, and for how long he or she talked to those people.
SMS Logging: Similarly, you could access the text messages and see who he or she has been talking to through text.
Call Recording: Some apps, such as Flexispy, allow you to listen in on real phone calls. You can listen to these calls in real time and record them for future reference.
Browser History: A standard spy app would get you access to the individual’s browser history so you could see what he or she is doing on the Internet.
Email and Photos: Accessing emails and photos is also a standard feature.
Social Media: More advanced spy software, such as mSpy, would enable you to see messages from social media sites.
GPS Tracking: With the GPS tracking feature, you could see where the person’s phone is and, presumably, where he or she is. If he or she is on the move, you’d get to watch where he or she goes.
Geo-Fencing: With the spy app’s dashboard, you can set parameters for the device. If the device leaves the area, you’ll get a notification.
Is it Possible to Hack Without a Phone or Information?
When you talk about hacking a cell phone, you can get into some really dark stuff. The spy apps discussed above are legal to use and they are marketed toward parents and employers, among other people who might find them useful. They obviously aren’t designed to be used maliciously.
There are certainly other ways to hack cell phones and they require a lot of skill. They can also be very expensive and very illegal. These methods aren’t readily available for consumers but we’ll go over a few of them anyway.
You Can Hire a Professional
There are definitely people who hack things for a living but it’s not what you would call an honest living. Many of these people do what they can to remain anonymous, which makes them difficult to find. It’s even more difficult to hand your money over to somebody you can’t see or be sure is going to carry out the services.
If you are actively searching, you’d see people advertise services of this nature and these are almost always scams. Given that this is illegal, you could see how it’d be strange for a hacker to advertise his or her services so you shouldn’t trust anybody who’s that open about it. If you managed to find an underground hacker, you could expect to pay thousands of dollars.
Remember that finding one of these guys requires some dark web, private investigator type of stuff and the consequences of either one of you getting caught are pretty severe.
Using IMSI Catchers (Stingrays)
One of the methods that hackers might use to access cell phones is the use of IMSI catchers, also called Stingrays. The International Mobile Subscriber Identifier, or IMSI, is a device used to eavesdrop on and track cell phones. Originally, it was something that law enforcement would use.
However, as the device got more accessible, it eventually got into the hands of hackers and private investigators, among others.
To put it simply, these devices mimic actual cell phone towers. Once they do that, they can intercept signals from the devices in the area. They’d also be able to pick out specific phones and use the signal to get access to the data.
These devices are most commonly used for location data but sometimes they can be used to listen to and record calls.
How Does Law Enforcement Hack Phones?
The IMSI catcher was a useful device for law enforcement that got into the hands of cybercriminals; conversely, law enforcement has been known to adopt methods that were traditionally used by cybercriminals.
The exact methods that law enforcement agencies use are perhaps unknown. They’ve been known to use software that is likely more sophisticated than what was mentioned above. People who don’t trust the government often assume that there’s a lot of illegal spying going on but the security of these smartphones is also getting increasingly sophisticated.
Organizations such as the FBI have openly opposed these encryption methods, specifically in regard to Apple devices, and claimed to have problems accessing devices in the past.
Whatever methods law enforcement uses, they are likely more subtle and even less detectable than the spy apps mentioned above.
Hacking Voicemail Accounts
Another phone-hacking method involves hacking an individual’s voicemail account. This was the method used in the UK phone-hacking scandal about eight years ago. Some hackers would spoof a user’s caller ID to get access to his or her voicemail and they could do this without a PIN.
Other times, all anybody would need to do is enter the PIN for a voicemail; since many people never bothered to change the default PIN, it was pretty easy to get in. Even if that person had changed the default PIN, it wasn’t always difficult to guess the custom PIN.
Doing this today might be a bit more difficult given that companies were put under pressure to improve the system after the UK scandal.