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Surveillance software allows employers to monitor all activity on PC and Android devices including screen, voice and chat. All of them, like FlexiSPY and Neatspy (compared here), endlessly list all the things they can do, but never mention how they are installed.

How can an employer even access someone's PC or Android phone remotely and install such software, if installation even occurs? What interaction mechanism actually engages the installation: does it start by adding one another as phone contacts through a social media app, or starting a video chat, for example? Or is surveillance only possible by having the worker connect to the company network at all times (which of course doesn't happen with, and wouldn't cover the question about, Android devices)?

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  • Who has provided you PC and phone? Are they yours or given by your employer?
    – defalt
    Jan 26, 2021 at 15:26
  • this is not about me, my devices are all personal use, not given, but now might be subject to work use obviously, but the question is about how do the software listed above manage to pull it off? Really it's not a question of the employer doing anything, but how do the software listed manage to do it? How can that software be placed for spying purposes
    – user610620
    Jan 26, 2021 at 15:42
  • Those are installed by employers in enterprise devices before they are given to the employees. It cannot be done in personal devices.
    – defalt
    Jan 26, 2021 at 19:07

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Background

This systems don't install themselves, nor do they install themselves in surreptitious ways. The examples you gave would basically boil down to the applications installing themselves illegally via hacking. That is incredibly difficult in practice, would put a legitimate software company out of business, and a workplace certainly wouldn't use illegal methods to get such software installed.

So how do they get it installed?

Most importantly, you will sign paperwork as part of your terms of employment stating that you agree to install the necessary security software/business software/whatever that is needed for you to do your job, with the company deciding what is necessary (of course). Then one of two things will happen:

  • They will install whatever they need on your work machine before sending it to you
  • They will ask you to install a remote management system, which will then install/remove any additional software as they see fit.

Note that regardless of how it gets there, once the remote management system is installed the computer is, in essence, no longer yours. Such things should really only be installed on work computers. For any number of reasons, you really don't want to be using personal devices for work, whether phones, desktop computers, or laptops.

Hopefully your company isn't asking you to install this on your personal devices. That would be a deal breaker for me, but depending on your industry and country, you may not have much of a choice. In that case you can do yourself a favor and buy a cheap device to use exclusively for work (if possible).

Still, unless you have specifically installed something on a personal device, you don't have to worry about such "spy" software being on it. There really isn't anyway that such software can automatically install itself on your personal devices, even if they share a network with work devices that have such software installed.

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  • whether it is a work machine given to the worker with spyware installed, or a remote management system that has to be installed, I would count these both as installations. It was installed in these respective devices nonethless. The question really turns then to how the linked software listed in the question gets themselves onto personal devices. I get the impression that, as long as co-workers know your phone number, that's all it takes for them to somehow install it onto that personal device
    – user610620
    Jan 26, 2021 at 14:57
  • No you impression is wrong.No one can install a app on your phone via a phone number.
    – yeah_well
    Jan 26, 2021 at 15:17
  • @user610620 Indeed, what yeah_well said. There is no general method to go around and just install things on other devices, personal or otherwise. Doing that is only possible via vulnerabilities in the devices, which, even when they do exist, or typically specific to the manufacturer or operating system. For such a thing to happen someone would have to have zero-day vulnerabilities for basically every kind of device out there. That sort of thing only happens in movies. Jan 26, 2021 at 15:26
  • You can safely assume that your personal devices are not being tracked, unless you installed something on them at the behest of your company. Note that sometimes that process can be subtle - imagine a company that requires you to install something to access their network, or which asks you to install "their" antivirus. Still, you will not end up with tracking software on your personal devices simply because you have a work device on the same network. Jan 26, 2021 at 15:28
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    @user610620 do those apps promise to install themselves automatically on devices that you don't have access to, or do they promise to control everything once you have installed them? Jan 26, 2021 at 17:11

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