How to know if your iPhone is listening to you

Imagine you are having a simple conversation with a friend or family member. Your kid wants a specific toy for the holidays, you’re planning to try another hair product, you need a new pair of sunglasses.

Naturally, the first place you might look for these products are sites like Google or Amazon. But before you can even access the search bar, advertisements appear on your phone screen for the exact products you were talking about just moments before.

It could be a coincidence, but it’s important to know for sure that nothing suspicious is going on.

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Are our smartphones still listening to us?

The answer is really yes and no.

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What are voice recognition assistants and should I be concerned?

Smartphones often have built-in voice recognition assistants that can help us find answers to questions, like the Apple iPhone feature known as Siri. But these assistants are designed to listen to us only when we’re asked (i.e. “Hey Siri, what song is currently playing?).

How do I know if my device is listening to me?

There are also built-in microphones in every smartphone, and your device should notify you when its microphone is being used to record you. When your microphone is in use, an orange dot should appear in the upper right corner of your screen, just above your Wi-Fi and battery icons. You can also swipe down from top to see which apps on your phone are using the microphone.

Your smartphone is also designed to track your data and search history.

This allows companies to send you personalized advertisements based on the items you have clicked on or searched for previously, enticing you to consume more of their products. It’s more of a tool they use to get you into your wallet than to get your personal information.

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How can I stop my phone from listening to me?

Just because our smartphones can listen to us doesn’t mean we should let them. Here are some simple steps you can take to limit tapping access to your phone:

1) Turn off your voice recognition assistant

How to Disable Siri

  • Go to settings
  • Click on “Siri and search”
  • Disable the following options: listen to “Hey Siri”, press the side button for Siri and allow Siri when locked
  • A pop-up will ask if you want to disable Siri. Click on “Disable Siri”.

This allows companies to send you personalized advertisements based on the items you have clicked on or searched for previously, enticing you to consume more of their products.
(Kurt Knutson)

How to Disable Google Assistant

  • Go to settings
  • Select Google
  • Click Account Services
  • Click on Search, Assistant and Voice
  • Select voice
  • Select Voice Match
  • Disable “Hey Google”.

2) Mute your mic on all your apps

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How to stop your iOS device from listening to you

  • Click Settings
  • Scroll to any app (Facebook, Snapchat, etc.)
  • Disable the Microphone option.
There are also built-in microphones in every smartphone, and your device should notify you when its microphone is being used to record you.

There are also built-in microphones in every smartphone, and your device should notify you when its microphone is being used to record you.
(Kurt Knutson)

If Your Phone Has Malware, Scammers Are Listening

Finally, another important consideration. If your device is acting slow and you are getting strange pop-ups on your phone, then your device might be infected with malware. You may have accidentally clicked on a link that looked legitimate when it was actually a link to install malware. If you have malware, scammers can do a variety of things, including monitoring you and installing software on your device that will imitate clicks and generate revenue for the scammer.

Your phone can “eavesdrop” on you without your knowledge.
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, File)

Lock down your technology

My greatest desire is to educate and inform you about the real increased threat to each of our connected devices and to encourage you to use strong antivirus security protection on everything in your life that is connected to the rest of the world. The best way to protect yourself is to install anti-virus software on your devices.

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Our top recommendation, TotalAV includes both real-time anti-malware protection and advanced AI-powered cloud protection that protects your PC, Mac, Android, and iPhone devices against the latest zero-day threats.

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It's worth a small price to pay to protect your personal information, data and all your devices from hackers.

It’s worth a small price to pay to protect your personal information, data and all your devices from hackers.
(Kurt Knutson)

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