That creepy feeling was pretty much the first inkling that I had a problem. From what I have learned over the last few years, the gut instinct that something is not right, is exactly how most people figure out that their spouse is spying on them.
The first twinges happened when I took a job bartending for the month of Spring Break on South Padre Island, Texas, for the month of March 2010. I was not very creative at conjuring passwords, and used about 3 different ones, depending on a given account’s requirements for length, special characters, numbers, uppercase letters, etc. I suddenly started having problems logging into my cell phone account, email and Facebook. I would get pop-ups that claimed I had previously exceeded the allowed number of incorrect log-in attempts (as with my AT&T account), or the password I’d used the day before (AOL and Facebook) simply wouldn’t work.
About the same time, my husband started making odd comments or statements. He would say things that, upon reflection, I would later realize that he could have only said if he had read my email to my sister, or had known exactly what time I had called my mom.
This was moderately annoying, because my husband was quite possibly the least forthcoming person on the planet. HIS privacy was of utmost importance: he would lock his cell phones in his car at night, along with the keys (getting in with the keyless entry code that I of course did not know), and he never, to the best of my knowledge, used that Gateway laptop of mine to access his email, cell phone account, insurance or car payments… His mail went to locations other than the house… The list goes on (yes, I was unbelievably stupid. I know.).
Because of his annoying habit of hiding his stuff, and his apparent new hobby of checking out mine, I changed all of the passwords. Didn’t help. Then I changed all of the answers to the security questions. That helped very briefly. My guess is right up until the day he purchased the E-Blaster program.
Soon I was getting questions about all of the dating websites I was getting email from. And the emails about Viagra. Did I think he needed Viagra? Who was I getting Viagra for?
Apparently knowing what I was doing online soon became inadequate; that left far too many hours in the day unaccounted for. He began trying ridiculously hard to get his grubby hands on my cell phone. This wouldn’t have been much of a concern, except that he had oddly left his cell phone in the bathroom one day, so of course I took the bait, and looked through his text messages. And there was a conversation talking about how to install Flexispy on his wife’s android phone. Sigh. Be careful what you look for.
My sweet hubby soon gave me a brand new android phone! Obvious much? He would, after I changed cell phones again, also purchase a program called SpyBubble, which I only found evidence of during the divorce proceedings, when he kindly supplied copies of his bank statements to me…including a transaction for the purchase of the SpyBubble….
One day when I called OnStar to unlock my car (oops. locked my keys in), the attendant on the other end commented on how often “we” seemed to call for car location service. Hmm.
Finally, he filed for divorce. But kept reading my email and Facebook messages. I confronted him, and in a moment of stupidity, he handed me the original E-Blaster disc, with it’s security code and all of the information I needed to uninstall it from my computer. As much as I appreciated the evidence, er, information, I did not uninstall the program. I did put the disc in the tray, check to see if the admin screen popped up…then packed the whole kit and caboodle away for future use.
1. Document, document, document. Take screen shots of weird error messages and pop ups that say you have tried to log into accounts when you have not. (Hit the “print screen” button on your keyboard, go to the “paint” program, right mouse click and select paste. Email to someone else. Print out a copy. Save for later. Do not just save on the infected computer!)
2. Beware of gifts. Cell phone spyware can be hidden on the SD card, the SIM card, the internal memory. It probably won’t be in a file that says “sneaky shit”. The programs can change the install dates, file names and files sizes to look like something that should be there, or something you want to be there. It can be installed with a cute picture of puppies or your kids that your ex sends from his cell phone or a computer, that your phone downloads.
3. Don’t destroy evidence. I don’t mean just removing the software from your phone or computer, but also don’t take your own stuff off either. Nude selfies? Maybe not what the cops want to see, but everything you remove before you hand it over to the cops will be found with forensics, and everything you erased will make you look like you have something to hide. Remember that the spyware is illegal. It doesn’t matter WHY he installed it. It doesn’t matter if he thought you were cheating, or if you really are cheating. The spyware is a crime. Cheating is not.
4. Protect yourself. Use strong passwords to access your computer, your accounts, your files. Don’t save anything to your computer or device that you don’t want someone else to see. It is not generally a crime to access documents or communication stored on the physically accessible device itself.
5. Educate yourself. Learn what to look for, and what laws are possibly being broken. Check my links for my favorites.