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Robert Siciliano Headshot

Stalkers Exploiting Mobile Phones

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Mobile phone GPS (global positioning system) is often accurate in less than 100 feet. Many mobile apps work with GPS to inform you of local restaurants, banks, gas stations and attractions. Mobile phone GPS is also being used for driving navigation too, but I don't find it as effective.

In this amazing age of progressive technology the uses seem unlimited. The good guy often finds out what he can do to improve his life with technology and the bad guy uses it to ruin others.

A U.S. Justice Department report last year estimated that more than 25,000 adults in the U.S. are victims of GPS stalking annually, including by cell phone.

The Wall Street Journal reports "The Federal Communications Commission required U.S. cellular providers to make at least 95% of the phones in their networks traceable by satellite or other technologies by the end of 2005. The agency's intention was to make it easier for people in emergencies to get help. GPS chips send signals to satellites that enable police and rescue workers to locate a person."

Mobile phone GPS can generally be activated in two ways. First, phone carriers offer a service to track the phone for a monthly fee. The service acts to find the phone if it's lost or to be used by parent or a spouse to keep tabs on their families. Employers often activate GPS to locate employees. Once activated the carrier sends a text message to the phone alerting the person they are being tracked via the phones GPS. The person paying the bill who is responsible for the contract is usually the person who can turn on tracking.

Second, mobile phone spyware. Software is installed on the phone that allows for another level of "keeping tabs." The software will locate the phone via GPS and also keep track of all the text messages and phone calls too. In this scenario spyware is most often installed manually by someone who has access to the device. Otherwise in rare instances it can be installed remotely.

"Stalkers" who use the phones GPS are usually someone close to the victim like a family member or ex- boyfriend/girlfriend that has the capability of turning on tracking.

If you suspect your phone's GPS has been activated by the carrier then call to find out. If you don't' like the feature turned on, request it be turned off or get another phone under your own name. If you believe the phone has been compromised by spyware then call your carrier and request they walk you through the process of reinstalling the phones operating system. This will wipe away any spyware that tracks via GPS.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to ADT Home Security Source discussing mobile phone spyware on Good Morning America. Disclosures.

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