By far one of the viral and frequently sought after topics is the ability to track down a cell phone. Whether it's to track down a lost phone or having the ability to track down a cheating spouse, today we will discuss several of the techniques that can be used to pin point the location of a phone.
First of all, I want to specify that the phones we are tracking must have GPS capability and are generally smart phones. I will briefly discuss the ability to track phones based on cell signal later in the article.
Ways to track a phone before you lose it.
It's obvious that many phones today come with apps pre installed that feature this capability. The iPhone features Find My iPhone, then there is Android Device Manager, and then Samsung has Find My Mobile.
Another app you can use is called Prey. This app can be used on both computers and phones and up to three devices for free. Once you sign up for the service, you are able to sync your devices to it. There are also paid plans that have more features. It can be used for both iPhone or Android devices with ease. This app runs covertly in the background and won't track the location of the device until it is told to do so.
Another option is a neat bit of software called AccuTracking. This has a variety of paid plans starting around $6 a month and works by tracking the GPS off of a smartphone whether it is a smart phone or not. This service offers a web login feature so all you need is the ability to have access to any computer with an internet connection to search.
It's important to note that unless software features the ability to track a phone at it's last known location then there will be no way to track the phone if it is turned off or the battery is dead.
Tracking someones phone WITH their permission.
There are a ton of great options that allow for location sharing among friends and family members. Facebook and Twitter features check-in type features that allow friends to see each others location.
Find My Friends is an app that is available for both Android and iPhone and allows users to share locations with their friends or groups of friends. iMessage and Google Hangouts offer features that allow you to share your GPS location through the app.
Tracking a cell phone WITHOUT their permission
This is what a large majority of people are interested in. How can someone get a hold of my location or how can I track down someone else's location? Well there are numerous methods out there. I am not suggesting anyone use any of these methods. This is for informational purposes only.
If your are able to get your hands on the phone and get past any login password feature on the phone you can download one of dozens of tracking apps out there discreetly. To ensure these apps stay hidden, download an app hider from the app store to ensure it can't be discovered. This will allow you to login remotely and track the location of the phone. Just note, if you leave the GPS tracking on, the phone's battery will drain quickly and will most definitely tip off the individual you are tracking.
How to track a cell phone without installing anything and without their permission.
The most controversial section out of all of the above. So, is it possible that someone has the ability to track your cell phone and triangulate your position just by it's signal it puts off? Absolutely. The device used for this type of tracking is known as an IMSI-tracker or more commonly known as the Stingray built by Harris Corporation. While this is the most popular IMSI tracker, there are certainly a wide range of other trackers out there. As one might imagine, they are available to government agencies, military, and law enforcement.
It works by acting as a cell phone tower that the users phone will connect too. Then the device works by triangulating the location of the cell phone. For those looking for more information regarding various models and tech specs. Check out this article.
You can bet that law enforcement is already utilizing this technology within the United States as well. The ability to track a cell phone backed with skip-tracing software would make tracking down someone in this modern day of age much more convenient. For those of you looking to use this for private use, be warned as it scoots the gray area of privacy and soon if not already there will be laws against having this type of tech. It can already be found generally no cheaper than ten thousand dollars to several hundred thousand dollars on the black market. A google search on this topic will yield a lot of data on the subject.
For those looking to general information on the Stingray then check out the wiki page.
Again, I am not condoning the use of tracking down anyones phone without their permission or without legal reason to do so. It would be best to seek out professional aid by a reputable licensed private investigator to ensure laws are not broken.