In Cyber Safety

How to Intercept Text Messages

how to intercept text messages

This article is about the techniques used to intercept text messages by those interested in doing this and will hopefully be helpful for those interested in preventing this. The techniques described require having physical access to the phone and the installation of software directly into the phone. There are paid services that provide this service for a monthly fee. There is also free software available to do this. Downloads.com has a list of text tracker software choices that shows many options of how to intercept text messages free of charge.

Be Aware of Illegal Snooping

Government snooping on a massive scale by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) was revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden who fled to Russia to avoid U.S. prosecution. The extent of the U.S. government’s interception of communications included Meta data searches on a great number of email, telephone calls, and text messages.

According to a recent article in The Intercept, Snowden claims the CIA has made more than a decade long attempt to compromise Apple products, such as the IPad and iPhones, in order to introduce “backdoor” operating system software that gives the CIA the ability to spy on the users of these devices.

Governments are notorious for breaking laws while conducting “black ops” efforts. It is another thing altogether different when company markets software is used as spyware. Hammad Akbar is from Pakistan. He is the CEO of InvoCode Pvt Lt., which is the company that created the StealthGenie software. Mr. Akbar made a very poor decision to visit Los Angeles during September 2014. He was arrested by the FBI upon attempting entry into the United States.

The FBI case against Hammad Akbar and his company is the first indictment made by the FBI of anyone for selling spyware. StealthGenie could not be easily detected by any user. Advertisements said its use was not traceable by a phone’s user. The StealthGenie software was capable of monitoring everything the phone was doing. It could turn on the monitoring capability remotely without the phone owner’s knowledge or permission, including turning on the microphone of the phone to record everything in its surroundings within about a fifteen-foot radius.

In the United States, it is illegal to sell surreptitious monitoring or interception devices and it is illegal to monitor people using these devices or software without the person’s consent to the monitoring.

Stealth Techniques

These “stealth” techniques do not necessarily require the permission of the person who owns the phone to be technically feasible. However, in most jurisdictions using these techniques for a phone not owned by the person, when another adult person uses that phone over the age of eighteen years is illegal.

Here are a few common stealth techniques, as reported in Slate magazine:

  • “Borrowing” the phone surreptitiously for a few minutes to install monitoring software that operates invisibly.
  • Cloning the phone to make an exact duplicate by copying the SIM card and using an identical model. The mobile phone network will update both of the phones, not realizing there is more than one. When both phones are near the same cell phone tower, telephone calls can be heard simultaneously on both phones (the spy phone should be muted to avoid background noise getting on the line).
  • When the text messages are not encrypted, there is firmware available that turns a mobile phone into a type of radio receiver and it will pick up all text messages of every phone nearby. Homeland Security in the United States uses techniques like this to intercept messages, especially near airports and other secured facilities. They also have the computer power to break encryption for cellular monitoring and intercept operations as reported by ZDnet.

Special Rules for Employers and Employees

There is no presumption of privacy automatically granted to employees when using company equipment to conduct company business. In fact, many companies explicitly have all employees agree to and sign a privacy waiver, which often includes a provision stating that no company equipment may be used for private communications.

If an employee is using a piece of equipment such as a laptop or smartphone, which is provided by the company, they should automatically assume every communication made is being monitored and recorded by an intercept text messages app and other software. The company is not doing anything illegal because the employee has been informed and has given consent by signing the privacy waiver.

Just because a company has the permission and the ability to monitor its employees’ communications does not mean that anyone with access to these capabilities has the company’s authorization to use them. In 2007, according to the New York Times, Wal-Mart fired a computer network technician and the supervisor who worked for Wal-Mart, because they made unauthorized interceptions of text messages and recordings of telephone calls.

Special Rules for Parents With Children Under Eighteen Years Old

Another exception to the rule that normally makes surreptitious monitoring illegal, is when the parents are intercepting text messages of their children using phones provided to the children by their parents.

While there is currently no law in the United States and other countries preventing this behavior by parents, it still has questionable morality. Results may be less than desirable when attempting this, because no one likes being under constant surveillance.

Different Laws in Different Parts of the World

Many of the companies making the monitoring software that allows a person to intercept text messages free of charge operate outside of the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States, in countries where the cyber laws are very different.

There are serious legal ramifications when a person tries to intercept text messages from another phone, yet it is extremely easy to do this.

How to Intercept Text Messages from Another Phone Using Software

The ten most popular software choices in the order of their popularity are:

  1. Spy Phone
  2. iKey Monitor
  3. Mobi-spy
  4. MaxxSpy
  5. HelloSpy
  6. The TruthSpy
  7. Mobile Phone Tracker
  8. NemoSpy
  9. Shadow Spy
  10. Spy App

The top software choices that are NOT free include Flexispy, Spyera, and Spyrix.

Here are the steps to set up a mobile phone for monitoring:

  1. Download your choice of free cell phone monitoring software from the list given above that is also found on downloads.com. Be sure to select software that will work with the phone you want to monitor. Software for phones that use the Android operating system is more common. If the phone is an iPhone, make sure the software works to intercept text messages iPhone operating system understands.
  2. Install the software on the phone to be monitored.
  3. Once the software is up and running, go to the website of that software to see the phone logs.

WARNING! Website Scams to Avoid

AVOID the service offered on sms-peeper.com and similar scam websites.

This website asks for your email for spam purposes. It appears to be a free service that is useful for finding out the last 50 messages sent and received by any mobile phone in the world. This website requires the completion of a “survey,” which is a “bait and switch” scam to get the visitors to sign up for other paid services that start automatically charging fees to cell phone numbers of those who sign up. It is very difficult to cancel these services and stop the fees from being charged or to dispute them.

The typical trick is to have a simple text box asking for a name and a cell phone number, with a checkbox that says, “I agree to the terms and conditions,” that many do not bother to read. This is the sales contract with all the fees and charges buried in the small text.

The sad part is, even if a visitor wastes time signing up for another offer, only then do they find out the “free” service, to see the last 50 SMS text messages from any mobile phone in the world, does not work.

This website and others like it are scams. So please beware and avoid them. One can easily stumble across them by searching on Google for “how to intercept text messages,” and it is difficult to figure out that they are not legitimate.

Except for the NSA and other national security agencies, there is no easy access to the entire database of text messages for all mobile phones in the world.

Summary

Monitoring exists in all aspects of our lives and it is here to stay. An entire generation is growing up without even the slightest expectation of privacy. Teenagers are commonly sending explicit photos of themselves to each other as a form of texting called “sexting.” Parents are sometimes shocked when they learn of these things. Teenagers are also shocked when they learn that what they think is sharing a sexy photo with an underage friend is also illegal distribution of child pornography!

There are two ways to deal with this in a wholesome way:

1) Teenagers, do not send anything that you would not want viewed by your mom.

2) Parents, try not to overreact. The world has changed and we are all still getting used to this.

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