According to the recently divulged documents provided by Edward Snowden to the Guardian, the NSA has at their disposal millions of cell phone and phone records of people from countries throughout the globe. As stated by the newly released information, this ‘data’ pertains, but is not limited to locations, meaning NSA analysts have had and still have the capability to find cellphones anywhere in the world.
It was reported by the Washington Post in 2004 that the NSA had developed a technique called “The Find”, which allowed them to find phones even when they were turned off.” It is not specifically indicated in the report, but it is hypothesized they do this by remotely infecting phones with Trojans that would compel the phone to continue emitting signal even if the phone is off. As a private investigations agency, we make it clear to our clients who feel their phones are being tracked that the act of tracking someone’s cellphone is indeed illegal, except with matters pertaining to law enforcement other select government agencies.
When the Law Enforcement and Phone Privacy Protection Act of 2006 and the Consumer Telephone Records Protection Act of 2006 passed committee, it became legally impossible for investigation agencies to attain cellphone records, unless you are the owner of the phone you intend on tracking. If you would like more information about the illegality of cellphone tracking, read more about it in one of our previous blog posts.
These days, with smart phones and applications heavily weighing on your geographic location, the investigators at NAI advise being smart and diligent when it comes to protecting your privacy. Whether it’s protecting yourself from your too curious family members or friends, taking the right and legal steps to securing your information is absolutely necessary. There are a number of steps in addition to checking for landline ‘wiretaps and bugs’ that you can take on your cellphone to prevent your information from being stolen:
Turn Off GPS Tracking
GPS tracking is a feature on most smartphones that allow third parties to know your cellphone’s location. However, some people aren’t aware that they can turn this feature off from the backend of their devices. First, you must locate “Security and Location” in your settings menu on your phone. This might also be labelled as ‘GPS settings’ depending on your particular phone. Now, you should have one of two options. Either “Turn GPS Off” or “Enable GPS”. Some phones may display a small image of a satellite next to your battery icon in your cellphone toolbar at the bottom or top of the screen. Other phones may display a blinking target icon while others may not show any icon at all. For phones that don’t, open an application like Foursquare which requires your location, and if you have successfully disabled your GPS, you will be prompted to re-enable it.
Encrypt your Phone Calls and Text Messages
For non-smartphone cellphone users and for more concerned smartphone users, simply turning of your GPS location on your devices may not be enough. You may want more security and privacy over your personal information whether it is your whereabouts, your phone calls or even your text messages. NAI has done the research for you and has narrowed down all the necessary applications and products to provide you with peace of mind. If you’re concerned that your mobile phone is still transmitting information even after you’ve hit the off button, these products might be the ones you’ve been searching for.
For smartphone users, we recommend Text Secure: Private SMS/MMS and RedPhone: Secure Calls. These two android applications will encrypt both your phone calls and your text messages which means, if anyone is listening in on your conversations, they won’t have any idea what you or whomever is on the other line is saying. We advise our clients who feel they are being tracked to encrypt their calls and text messages to thwart any attempts at stealing your information.
Hide Your Phone from Prying Eyes
If turning GPS and encrypting your phone doesn’t give you peace of mind, below, is a video describing a product which non-smartphone and smartphone users alike would probably like to get their hands on. It’s called the Silent Pocket and is meant for phones when they’re not in use. It provides complete privacy by blocking incoming RFID, RF and outgoing GPS to and from your phone. Below is a short video, showing the Silent Pocket in action.
In many instances, our clients feel they themselves are being tracked either via wiretap or a ‘bug’ on their landline by their significant other or a third party. If that is the case, we always advise them to take the necessary, preventative measures and contact a reputable investigations agency who specializes in anti-wiretapping/debugging cases. Applications of illegal eavesdropping and surveillance devices for the sole purpose of intercepting information can be highly technical, making it imperative for a private investigator to investigate and eliminate the threat. Whether it is simply an anti-wiretapping/debugging investigation or something more, an investigations agency can tailor an investigation to your individual needs.