How Can I Tell If My Phone Is Bugged?

By Daniel Westlake

In 2006 a number of news outlets reported that the FBI was tapping terrorism suspects' cell phones by eavesdropping on the cell phone mic within specifically distributed phones which had had their firmware changed. While tapping into a cell phone is a difficult thing to do in general, it can be done, and is being done with more and more regularity these days, as online cellular spyware is widely (and relatively inexpensively) available for purchase. So if you think someone could be bugging your cell phone, look for these very specific signs.

Battery Juice

If the cell phone battery is running out of juice prematurely or at increasingly rapid speeds, then there is a possibility your cell phone is bugged, as that extra juice from the battery is being used by the bug transmitter. This could also mean you have a faulty battery, but one of the first signs that another transmitter has been installed in your cell phone is a shorter battery life. A good way to remedy this if you are worried about the phone really being off is to take out the battery when you are sitting around talking about things you don't want people to hear. While there may be rumors of extra internalized batteries within the bugs themselves, there is no logical way to do this with the current size of cell phones right now.

Extra Heat

While it's natural for cell phones to become warmer, especially after longer conversations, it's not very natural for them to significantly heat up in your pocket or in your hand after short conversations or little to no use. This may be a sign that your cell phone is bugged with another transmitter.The phone should also cool off between calls, and if that isn't happening, then something odd could be going on, meaning that memory might be recording to the flash memory card of the phone for bulk transmission later via a third party, using the phone's data capabilities.


Most phones are standard GSM phones, which transmit a certain wave-like buzz and can cause interference with speakers and other electronic devices during calls. This is perfectly natural. However, if a buzzing continues in your ears and through nearby electronic devices between calls, becoming louder the closer you move the phone to these electronic devices, there is a chance the phone is bugged and is transmitting information to an outside source. As phone technology and bugging technology continues to evolve, knowing this information will become more and more important.