Spying on a Cell Phone Without Installing Software

In this article, I intend to explain how you can remotely spy on someone’s phone in some cases, whether it is an iPhone or Android. I can also talk a little bit about how to defend yourself from these situations.

how to spy on a cell phone without installing software

Hey, it is your best friend Frankie here. Every day, I get dozens of messages and questions tapping into how terrifying of a reality it is that someone can spy on a phone without installing software.

Since you are here reading this, it appears that you need answers about these topics as well.

The main question here is if you can hack someone’s phone and read texts or see other activities with only having a phone number to go on.

Today, I will answer all of these questions for you.

We should start with the techniques used to spy on mobile phones, and you can learn a little more about how to monitor an iPhone. Check it out! Or if you want to monitor an Android smartphone, check here!

Some of the methods here are advanced and highly technical, and others fall more into an artisanal heading – but must not get underestimated despite this reason.

Ironically it is often the simple and non-elaborate techniques that can tap into our proclivity for distractions and emotional weaknesses – rather than focusing our minds on security flaws present in information systems – that can have the greatest successes.

The answer to the main question of this article then, is YES.

It is indeed possible to spy on a cell phone without installing any software, but not in some “magical” way. These options all hinge on an “unknown collaboration” with the victim.

If you keep reading you can get a better understanding of what I’m referring to.

Frankie-Caruso


Frankie’s Take:

I put this guide together to help parents monitor their child’s phones and keep them safe from any dangers they could encounter on the internet. In countries like the US in UK, spying on your child’s phone, as long as they are a minor, is not deemed a crime. Unfortunately, this tutorial could also be used to track a partner’s phone if you suspect them of being unfaithful. Remember, if you choose to use this in this way, this type of spying is often considered a punishable offense.

Spying on a Phone Without Installing Software on a Target Device

So, let’s get right into the meat and potatoes of this guide.

I want to share the top five methods that I have for spying on iPhone and Android smartphones without installing software first. Some of these are free, while others are based on paid tracking systems that you can get elsewhere.

Before analyzing them in greater detail, let me describe them all briefly:

  • Method 1 – social engineering. This is likely the most effective route – but it does cost some money (don’t worry it isn’t much.)
  • Method 2 – a malicious link. This is technically known as phishing. A free method but one that requires advanced computer and technical skills to achieve.
  • Method 3 – software vulnerability. This is also free and within everyone’s reach come up but does require physical access to the victim’s phone for a few minutes.
  • Method 4 – sniffing wireless networks. This is also free, but difficult to implement.
  • Method 5 – spy cameras. Yes, in true James Bond fashion, you can install spy cameras. This takes a bit of time and dedication to achieve, however.

Now that you know these methods a little bit better, let me begin the guide.

Here we go.

Method 1 – Social Engineering

I would argue that this is one of the most dangerously effective espionage tactics available, often because people underestimate it until it is too late.

These efforts exploit carelessness and attack a smart device that we have with us (typically a phone) to keep much of the data that is discoverable.

Social engineering manipulates the victim to provide sensitive data.

Let me give you an example of this.

An attacker or manipulator executes an excuse to borrow your phone and takes these few moments to steal data or nose through messages.

I would suggest you take a moment to watch this video for some examples of social engineering so that you could stay prepared and protect yourself.

Once an attacker gains access to a victim’s phone, they are not going to waste time casually reading messages. They want to connect to applications to review the activity of the phone remotely.

This may be through spyware like mSpy, which is compatible with all major smartphone operating systems. It is one of the Premier spying apps used across the world.

And it’s certainly worth taking a closer look at mSpy.

This software connects you to your victim’s mobile phone without any complicated installation process. What makes this process unique is that mSpy more utilizes the iCloud or Google account to gather information rather than the device itself.

That is why its presence is almost untraceable on a cell phone. The victim has no way to understand that someone is playing on them, because they cannot see any signals that this is occurring.

Using this software, you can:

  • See which apps are getting used.
  • Monitor call logs and conversations.
  • Read messages on all chat platforms, including iMessage, Messenger, Snapchat, and more.
  • Read from a key logger to view messages and sensitive information.

The installation of this software is easy and requires no technical skills whatsoever.

BIG NEWS: I’m saving you time but directing you towards a detailed guide I put together, including pictures and videos, describing the installation process for mSpy on various devices.

You should believe me when I say that this is the most used app for spying in the world and can make remote monitoring a snap.

You can actually get a free demo of this service to see for yourself how well designed it is and what it is capable of finding.

Let’s recap: with social engineering you can access a victim’s mobile phone (without much suspicion) and within a few seconds connected to a spy app. All you would need to do is log in to your mSpy dashboard and see what is happening in real time with the target device.

Dashboard mSpy

Wondering if there is any way to prevent the use of this technique on yourself?

Actually, with social engineering, there’s no direct security measures you can take to prevent it.

If you are lending someone your smart phone, you have granted them temporary access to the device and left a window of opportunity for them to access apps. You would be surprised at how little time it takes to install espionage apps and services on your phone.

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PRO and CONS

✅ There is no physical installation required on your victim’s mobile phone.

✅ It allows you to spy from a different device remotely.

✅ It is completely invisible on the target device.

✅ It is easy to connect and the service features 24/7 support and multiple languages to help with installation concerns.

✅ Does not require rooting or jailbreaking the phone.

❌ Costs a small fee.

❌ Requires access to the victim’s phone for a short period.

Frankie-Caruso


Frankie’s Take:

I don’t believe that there are better applications for spying on mobile devices than mSpy. You have alternatives such as Flexispy or Hoverwatch (click here to check out the 3 most acclaimed phone spy apps for 2021), but they do not offer the same level of support and assistance that you can expect from mSpy.

Method 2 – Malicious Link (Phishing)

Many may consider this technique to be much like social engineering. This hinges on attacking a smartphone by manipulating users to follow malicious links.

Through SMS and email, an attacker can encourage the target to visit a developed link which inadvertently provides necessary information or directly installs spy applications.

Spy apps can get installed on your phone and allow remote monitoring of the device in this way, or alternatively, you can fake social networking pages to gather sensitive information like login credentials through a process known as phishing.

Allow me to explain in more detail how this works.

First, you create an email address that looks similar to something you would see from a sender representing Apple, Google, or other social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram.

Compose an email very similar, if not identical, to the ones that you would normally receive from these services to encourage the user to update their login information. Usually this involves changing the password.

When clicking on the link to direct them to the page where they can change these credentials, they insert their data to access the account, and then you have it.

Kaboom!!

This page will collect the data enter on it and you will have access. Once you have these login credentials, you can then access a victim’s iCloud or Google account and begin spying on their cell phone without even installing any software.

Note: there are many websites providing ready-made templates for phishing emails in pages. You do need to have the right computer skills, namely PHP and HTML programming language knowledge, to implement them into a functional website.

I put together a video that summarizes these steps and shows you how you could bring them to life.

This is likely one of the most popular methods of spying on Facebook messages for free without having the phone handy, or how to find out an Instagram password of an account.

But can I be totally honest?

This technique does work but requires an immense amount of skill. As if it wasn’t enough of a challenge, Android and Apple have both declared war on phishing websites and emails going out on a daily basis.

Allow me to give you an example. Gmail, iCloud, and other email services now have a system that identify email addresses that might be linked with phishing attempts. Many of these services also enable two factor authentications to block access to a device from unknown sources or software.

Google Gmail Phishing protection

Phishing can also be used to sense by apps that will install themselves without the need to gather credentials. Self-installing apps are not available on the market and are made by professional hackers.

If you attempt to find these by Googling, you will be led astray. You are wasting your time, and likely providing access to your own device for malicious software.

PRO and CONS

✅ Free (many hosting services allow you to recreate websites at no charge).

❌ Requires advanced skills and time.

❌ Does not give you a dashboard to easily access gathered information.

❌ You cannot spy on multiple services simultaneously.

Frankie-Caruso


Frankie’s Take:

Because so few of us are experienced hackers, I would not recommend trying this technique. One of the main risks is that you’re going to waste a lot of your precious time. Instead, I would suggest using mSpy which does not require any computer skills to utilize. It can get installed directly on the target phone and allows you to monitor everything happening on your child or spouse’s smart phone remotely.

Method 3 – Software Vulnerability

This is a popular option for many reasons:

  • It is easy to do.
  • It works.
  • It costs nothing.

One of the drawbacks, is that you will not be able to access everything that happens on a target smartphone, namely just a few things.

Consider WhatsApp, and the web function of this service. With this feature, the app can get replicated on a smartphone, computer, or tablet. This grants a full access to all conversations.

WhatsApp Web works just like the official client for your Windows or Mac device, by scanning a QR code with the camera on your smartphone.

Once this has been scanned, and a checkbox clicked to retain access, you can always return to this WhatsApp account by opening the computer client.

So, what does this actually mean for you?

If you manage to access your victim’s mobile phone for a few seconds, using the techniques shown in the social engineering portion of this guide, you can scan a QR code and connect to someone’s WhatsApp account on your PC or tablet.

Spy on a cell phone with software vulnerability

Now, you have access to all of their conversations without installing software on the device itself.

You should be careful not to read any messages before the victim reads them, otherwise you will possibly get caught. If you want to learn more about WhatsApp web and how it works, I prepared a tutorial. You can check out a Complete Introduction on How to Use WhatsApp Web.

Not all services can be hacked this way, however. Similarly, though, you can use other social networks to steal passwords.

How does THAT work?

Both iPhones and Android devices save login details to popular social networks locally. All you need to do is to grab a victim’s phone and unscramble these passwords over a few moments.

On an iPhone, go to Settings > Password > Find what you need and click on it

On an Android, you go to the search symbol first and type ‘Password Manager’ > choose Google account > look at what you need FYI – to get access to the passwords, you need to know the unlock code for the device.

PRO and CONS

✅ Free.

✅ Very easy to do.

✅ Leaves no trace on targeted phone.

❌ Some socials require two-factor authentication.

❌ You need access to the target phone.

❌ You need thee unlock code.

❌ You don’t have a convenient dashboard to manage information.

Frankie-Caruso


Frankie’s Take:

This has been a technique that has helped many parents keep their kids from unnecessary dangers. I do understand that getting the unlock code might be tricky. In these situations, mSpy is far more efficient.

Method 4 – Sniffing Wireless Networks

Let me be clear, sniffing a Wi-Fi network is not at all an easy thing to do. It is a great system if you cannot physically access a target phone, however. This is why it is so widely used across the globe.

Let’s begin with understanding it a little better.

The term sniffing means capturing information traveling over a Wi-Fi network.

It seems like some sort of high-level espionage trick that you might find in a Bond film, but there are many tutorials to teach you how to crack Wi-Fi passwords and basic steps.

Now, there are even programs in software to allow you to puncture a wireless network without all the technological knowledge. A good example of this is the Kali Linux Network Distribution program. Once you have punctured a hole in the Wi-Fi, you can access the traffic moving through these points.

If information traveling these pathways is encrypted, there are no major risks for you and your information getting sniffed.

But all good things must have some drawbacks, and this sniffing technique certainly does.

There are many messaging apps like WhatsApp an Instagram that now have security protocols known as end-to-end encryption. Simply put, messages sent between users travel from one smartphone to another completely encrypted. When one message reaches its destination, it is then translated back into text.

What does this mean?

If you intercept a message from WhatsApp, Messenger, or Instagram, through sniffing techniques, all you will see are alphanumeric codes that look more like hieroglyphics then any sort of text message.

It is possible to sniff other types of information, such as:

  • Passwords
  • Shared photos and videos
  • Mail
  • Notes
  • and more

Hackers love this method because they can sit at public and free Wi-Fi ports in public places and steal sensitive data like credit card information and passwords for social media accounts. My advice is to defend yourself from this kind of attack and do not make online payments when you’re connected to a public Wi-Fi network.

PRO and CONS

✅ Free to use.

✅ You don’t need a victim’s phone.

❌ You must be familiar with Linux.

❌ You won’t spy on social apps using end-to-end encryption.

❌ No dashboard to conveniently view captured information.

❌ You can only spy a device using the Wi-Fi network.

Frankie-Caruso


Frankie’s Take:

here are certainly more cons than pros with this method. If you are looking to spy on a child or spouse’s device, there are certainly easier ways to go about that. I would recommend social engineering.

Method 5 – Spy Cameras

This might seem like a crazy technique, but in a good way.

As you have likely already determined, spying on a mobile phone without installing spyware directly is not an easy feat. With the help of spy cameras, and other surveillance equipment, you will be able to more easily discern sensitive data like passwords or even credit card numbers if you so desire.

All that you need in these iterations is to ensure that the victim is in the appropriate place when they’re typing important information on their phone.

Spy cameras today are small, cheap, and easy to use.

Noticing them is also increasingly more difficult than it used to be.

I would give you some ideas about where you might want to place them:

  1. The headboard – your bed is a place where everyone typically spends at least 10 minutes using their mobile phone before falling asleep.
  2. Back seat of the victim’s car – just make sure the image shows the victim’s hands.
  3. Behind a work desk.
  4. Over the toilet box inside an air freshener – no place better than the bathroom for clandestine conversations with a lover.

Be aware: Purchase a spy cam that is HD and has a night vision mode. Most of them are already this way, but you should double check just to be safe.

PRO and CONS

✅ Fast.

✅ Full environmental recordings of the room where it gets placed.

✅ Record sensitive phone calls.

❌ Not easy to read keys pressed on a smartphone keyboard.

❌ You cannot access social media conversations.

Frankie-Caruso


Frankie’s Take:

If you are interested in purchasing one of these by cams online, make sure that when it is delivered to your door it won’t be the victim who opens up the package for you. Not only is this awkward, but you will also have to explain your purchase. This is the most recommended technique if you are trying to capture compromising phone calls.

How to stop someone from spying on my phone

At this point, it is fairly safe to suggest that spying on a mobile phone is all but impossible without installing specific programs on it.

It is impossible to steal data without spying on the victim with cameras, sniffing the wireless network, or other strategies labeled above as well.

The ideal method used for spying on a smartphone is the installation of spy apps after gaining brief physical access to the device. I have mentioned a few of these programs in the tutorial on hacking Facebook or WhatsApp, Snapchat or spying on iPhones.

With a precise explanation, I can give you some ‘tips’ – different from what I have already given you in other areas of the tutorial – to avoid attacks by ‘spies’ and find out if someone has installed spy applications on your smartphone.

Verify Apps Installed on Your Smartphone

Spy applications often hide off of the home screen and the system menus, but there are tricks that can enable you to find them.

First, go to the Settings menu of your smartphone and check if there is any suspicious name in the list of installed applications on the device.

This would be an easy way to decipher what could be a spy app and worth deleting.

To see the full list of apps installed on your mobile phone, here is what you do.

On an Android:

Go to Settings > App Menu. Press the (…) button at the top right. Select the Display System option from the menu that appears.

On an iPhone:

Go to Settings > General > Device Storage and iCloud. Press Manage Storage located under Device Storage.

Here I would recommend that you check applications that have advanced permissions, then applications that have permissions to control other actions performed on the phone.

These are some steps to take:

Android:

Go to Settings > Security > Device Administrators. If you have unlocked your device with a root, open the SuperSU/SuperUser application and check the list of apps that have root permissions.

iPhone:

Go to Settings > Profile and Device Manager menu to check if there are specific profiles for apps that you do not have installed.

Try opening up your browser (e.g. Safari for iOS and Chrome on Android) and typing in the localhost:8888 and localhost:4444 addresses and also typing *12345 in the phone numbering screen.

These are special codes that some spy apps use to allow access to their control panels.

Use a Secure Unlock Code

If you do not ever lend you smartphones to strangers (which is very wise) and set your phone to have a secure unlock code, you can be reasonably certain that no one can install spy apps to your device.

To set up a secure unlock code, do the following:

With an Android smartphone, go to Settings > Security > Screen Lock > PIN and type the unlock code you want to use to access your smartphone twice in a row.

If you have a mobile phone with a fingerprint sensor, I would recommend that you set up fingerprint unlocking through the Security menu and the Fingerprint option.

I do not recommend unlocking with gestures, as these are easy enough to recognize when anyone watches you access your phone.

With an iPhone, go to Settings > Touch ID and Code, and select the option relating to the lock code and type the code that you wish to use twice in a row.

If you have Touch ID, you can use your fingerprint to unlock the phone by choosing to Add a Fingerprint.

Hiding Apps

If you lend your smartphone to trusted friends from time to time, there is a risk that your device will end up with someone unreliable. Hide apps that you consider valuable or that contain sensitive information. For more on how to do this, check out my tutorials on How to Hide Android Apps and How to Hide iPhone Apps.

Manage Passwords Securely

Regardless of what you say about spying on your smartphone, it is important to learn to securely manage passwords so they are less likely to get discovered by malicious attackers.

You can find all the information you need about this in my tutorial about how to manage passwords.

Conclusion

Now, I would say that we managed to have a lot of fun with this article. Now you can appreciate that hacking a smartphone without getting caught is not complicated.

Five methods we discussed to do this are:

1. mSpy software which allows a person to monitor phones remotely
2. The phishing technique to steal passwords
3. The WhatsApp web bug to read someone else messages remotely
4. The sniffing of a wireless network can be used to get into other people smartphone
5. Spy cameras

There are also some ways to tell if your smartphone is being hacked and someone is spying on you.

If you have any other questions or concerns, you can always take a couple minutes and drop me a line in the comments below. You can also follow my YouTube channel, Facebook page, or Pinterest profile for a complete picture of what you might want to know.

This guide was written for illustrative purposes only. Spying on anyone’s mobile device can be a crime punishable by law. I am not responsible for misuse of information provided in this article.

Cheers,

PS – Do you know you can track a phone (iPhone or Android) using GPS? Check it out!

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Frankie Caruso
About Frankie Caruso

Hello! I am Frankie Caruso and I love to fiddle with all of the popular messaging applications with the hacking techniques that I love. I want to find out how to breach the defenses of these apps and exploit weaknesses.