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    For the trial law and legal community from a private investigator's perspective. The Beacon Bulletin is the weekly newsletter authored and published by our parent company, Beacon Network Investigations, LLC (BNI). We're a private investigation company. We DON'T dispense legal advice, respond to anonymous queries or black hat your enemies for you. (Internally, however, points are alloted for perfectly wordsmithed compliments.) We DO hope to inform. That's our business.
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  • Recent Posts

How To Tell If You Are Being Tracked Via Cell Phone.

spying

Have an unshakable feeling that someone is tracking your whereabouts and conversations via your cell phone? Given the ease of use and access to spyware tools these days, coupled with your involvement in a hostile situation (divorce, child custody or partnership split), you just might be right.  Know what to look for and what to do.

Access is key

Since installing tracking apps and spyware requires physical access to your phone, the easiest way to prevent these mobile intrusions is to keep your phone secure. Obviously, though, you can’t take your phone everywhere – you have to shower sometime – make sure you set a PIN to your phone – and make it a difficult one (no birthdays, addresses, anniversaries, etc.).

Has your iPhone been “jailbroken”?

In order to install tracking or spyware to your iPhone, a process called “jailbreaking” is required to bypass Apple’s strict security.  The person tracking you may have been in a rush and they might not have deleted jailbreaking apps, the most commonly used are: Cydia, Icy, Installer, Installous and SBSettings.  Simply swipe right on your home screen to search your phone, as they won’t necessarily show up with an app icon.

Check your bills

If there’s a tracking app or spyware on your phone, it will more than likely contain a GPS aspect to it which would send your data usage through the roof.   Check your bill for a spike in this usage.

Signs you may have tracking apps or spyware installed

There are tell-tale signs that your phone might be tracking you without your knowledge, such as:

  • Does the battery run down a lot quicker than it should, and stay warm even when idle?
  • Does it stay lit when you try to turn the screen off, or light up when you’re not doing anything?
  • Is it slower running apps than normal?
  • Are there unfamiliar applications running in the background?
  • Does it take forever to shut down?

Don’t ignore odd messages

If you receive a text message full of what looks like computer code, or garbled numbers, it is possible it’s an ‘instruction’ message sent by the remote controller of the tracking software on your phone; the spyware works by receiving such messages and although they are meant to go unnoticed, may sometimes appear in your inbox.

How to remove tracking apps and spyware

Keep your phone’s software up to date, use anti-malware software and delete anything suspicious. But the only sure way is to do a full backup to your computer, reset your phone to factory settings and then reinstall everything one by one, making sure to only reinstall apps you know and trust.

If you’re using an iPhone that you suspect has been jailbroken, upgrade to the latest version of iOS as this will reverse the jailbreak and remove the malignant software – just make sure you’re backed up first.

Finally, run one of the below top five (as determined by Lifehacker) malware removal products:

  • Spybot Search & Destroy (Windows, Freeware)
  • SUPERAntiSpyware (Windows, $30)
  • ComboFix (Windows, Freeware)
  • Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware (Windows, $25)
  • HijackThis (Windows, Freeware)

(They are found on CNet and, reviewed there as well.)

The bottom line is situational awareness.  If you are in the process of a divorce, business partnership split-up, other litigation, etc.  believe that someone will try to get an inside peek into your life.  Remain vigilant.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

How To: Restore Your Computer’s Operating Speed

man asleep

One of the most frustrating things in our digital lives is a slow computer.  We might not be fully conscious when logging on each morning but there’s no reason why our electronic devices should be sluggish.

We buy an expensive new pc and revel in its start up, load and run applications speed  Inevitably however, our revered electronic device starts to slow down, crawling at each use and eventually, churning at a glacial speed when  performing routine tasks.  Once we’ve removed our enabling/denial behavior from the human-machine co-dependent relationship, we realize, “Hey. I have important stuff on here! What do I do now??”   Good response but before you can attack the problem, it needs to be identified.

So why the loss of the electronic device processing speed mojo?  The answer is actually quite simple and one need not approach nerd status to understand the causes and solutions.

The good news is that it’s generally not the device’s hardware that is the problem.  In most cases, the hardware is perfectly capable of being restored to its original glory and kept in optimum running condition with minimal effort.

Rather, the problem lies with changes that occur to the computer’s run programs. The 2 most common causes of slowdown (along with easy solutions) are:

Registry errors  –  the most common problem

Each and every instance in which a program, a game or file is uploaded, your device’s registery is updated with new instructions needed to operate that item.  However, when the item is removed, these instructions usually remain on your PC.  Every time you run your computer it tries to execute these instructions but, because the related program can’t be found, it causes a registry error.  Your PC is doing a lot more work than it should and the result is a significantly slower computer.

One of the best ways to manage this electronic slowdown is with a neat little tool from a Seattle based company called the Advanced Registry Optimizer (ARO for short).  ARO scans, identifies and fixes registry errors.  On top of the amazing results it offers, it’s so easy to install and use that it was recently awarded a coveted 4.5 star rating (out of 5) by CNET’s editorial staff.

You can now download a free trial version of ARO which will quickly scan your entire PC and identify the registry errors that may be bogging it down.  The free version eliminates the first 100 errors and if you have more errors that you want to clean-up or want to set the program to run on a regular basis (recommended) you can easily upgrade to the full version for a nominal fee.

To obtain the free trial version simply click here.

Spyware and viruses

Spyware and viruses are malevolent programs that are loaded on your computer without your knowledge or permission.  They have various purposes, including:

  • Changing the default search engine in your browser
  • Tracking your web surfing habits and showing you targeted advertising
  • Using your email program to send out spam to other email addresses
  • Stealing your personal information

Most spyware and viruses gain entry to our computers through files that we download online or as email attachments.  These spies and guise digital demons occupy a large amount of space and require significant computing power.

The simple rule of thumb to follow is to not  download  programs from companies with which you are unfamiliar, especially games, screensavers, emoticons and the like.  In addition, do not open any attachment to an email unless you know – and trust – the sender.  Finally and perhaps obvious at this point of the technological cycle, ensure that an efficient anti-virus / spyware detection and removal app is running at all times.  Our suggestion (as a booster to your normal anti-malware app/service)  is  Spybot, from Download.

Enjoy your “new” pc.

BNI Operatives: Street smart; info savvy.

As always, stay safe.

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