FOX23 Investigates: Cell Phone Spyware

Spyware possibly on your cellphone

TULSA, Okla. — Security experts are warning cell phone users to be more careful with their devices.

Senior Security Expert Nathan Sweaney told FOX23's Michelle Linn that people should not take their eyes off their phones.

"A lot of times people don't think about their phone," Sweaney says.

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"They leave it sitting down. You take it to an airport and you plug it in and charge it, and you're over here talking. I could very quickly walk over and mess with it, without you realizing, and install stuff."

Sweaney demonstrated how someone does not have to be sophisticated to install spyware on a phone. He installed it without leaving behind any kind of thumbnail or icon as evidence.

"I installed this on here, they walk you through the steps. It's very simple. You need access to the phone for 30 seconds, maybe," he says.

According to Sweaney, there are several reasons someone might put spyware on someone else's phone -- a significant other suspecting cheating or a parent distrusting their teenager -- but the most concerning is a malicious attacker.

"Malware is installed on this phone and I can see a list of every contact, I can see every text message that's been sent back and forth," he says.

Experts say the best way to protect yourself is to be suspicious before you download an app. Don't automatically grant permissions and give apps access to your phone calls, texts, photos, especially if you're not familiar with the app's creator.

Sweaney says don't ever ignore operating system updates.

"Manufacturers are constantly looking for flaws and when they see stuff being exploited out there, they find a way to fix it. If we ignore the patch we're basically leaving ourselves vulnerable."

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