Cell phones nowadays are no longer just tools for texting or calling. Some manufacturers have managed to incorporate the functionalities of personal computers into these compact devices. They’ve succeeded in upgrading operating systems to perform at optimum condition and maximizing RAMs to the highest storage capacities possible.
These innovations and advancements enable phone users to get the most out of their devices. However, most users like to keep confidential and sensitive data on their phones. This is why you must be aware of the possible dangers.
Is someone monitoring my phone? – if you find yourself asking this question, it’s best to proceed with extreme caution. You might want to conduct a thorough search and back up important files. Here are some efficient ways on how to catch someone monitoring your phone.
What Is Spy Software?
Spy software, more commonly known as spyware, is a program designed to monitor any phone activity and track the target device. While technically classified as malicious software or malware, it’s a general misconception spyware is a virus. Unlike viruses, spy apps aren’t solely created to compromise or jeopardize a certain device.
Spyware records all activities within the device itself or any installed third-party app. It collects data and copies files to provide remote real-time access to the end-user. These programs typically come with cloud-based control panels where the user can see the device’s text messages, call logs, multimedia files, browser history, social media activities, and more.
Aside from monitoring features, most spy apps for iOS and Androids are also packed with a variety of parental controls and security settings. Among these features are an accurate GPS locator, screen time limit, application blocking, website content filter, and keywords alert. This is why many parents and entrepreneurs rely on these tools for efficient child and employee monitoring.
What if someone uses it to monitor my phone for malicious purposes? Well, of course, this is an entirely different story. Unfortunately, like most programs, spyware can be utilized for malicious reasons as well. For instance, someone could try to track your call history and chat conversations to commit identity theft.
If someone resorts to using spyware for legal and lawful purposes like child or employee monitoring, you’ll typically be notified or asked for consent. Otherwise, the person who installed it on your phone without consent probably has a hidden agenda. Beware of these common methods for how one could bypass you and install the app on your device.
- Masked as a Legit App
Hackers are getting creative when it comes to penetrating devices. Some manage to mask spy apps as legit-looking apps. They can even copy familiar logos or well-known names to lure users into downloading the spyware.
- Via Phishing, Social Engineering, or Malvertising
These tricks could come in the form of an SMS text, an email, a phone call, or an out-of-the-blue notification alert. By doing this, cybercriminals can lure users into voluntarily downloading the software or clicking a certain link that triggers the installation process.
- Remote or Manual Installation
Like most apps, spy tools could be manually downloaded directly to your device. Gaining physical access to your phone — even for just a minute — could enable the predator to successfully download the spy software. Some of these programs even allow remote installation utilizing your OS/network login credentials or phone number.
8 Signs Spy Software Has Infiltrated Your Phone
As important as learning how to catch someone monitoring your phone, you must be aware of the signs. Most spy apps work in stealth mode, concealing their presence and making them undetectable. However, no matter how advanced the software is, there would still be some adverse effects. Here are some red flags to look out for.
- Battery life drains a lot faster.
- Unreasonably high data usage.
- Constant overheating even when not in use.
- Unexplainable latencies and crashes.
- The backlight remains lit even after locking the device.
- It takes longer to turn off.
- Unexpected pop-ups and messages containing nonsensical codes, letters, and numbers.
- Strange background noises during phone calls.
3 Efficient Ways To Get Rid Of A Spyware App
Now that you know the common signs to catch someone spying on your phone, it’s time to locate and get rid of the spy software. Be sure, however, to proceed with extreme caution and if deemed necessary, properly back up your files.
- Manual Removal
First, you could manually locate the spyware and uninstall it. Try this on an Android device:
- Activate Safe Mode by long-pressing the Power button and click OK when the Reboot to safe mode window pops up.
- Navigate to the phone’s Settings page and select the Apps or Apps & notifications option.
- Browse through all installed apps and look out for any suspicious app or anything you don’t remember installing.
- Tap on the specific app and click on Uninstall.
- If the app doesn’t immediately uninstall, it might have gained device administrator permissions. Disable such permissions first by navigating to Settings > Security > Advanced > Device Administrators. Simply have to untick the box beside the specific app and tap on Deactivate this device admin app. Then, go back and click on the Uninstall button.
- Restart your phone and boot it up in normal mode.
If you’re utilizing an iOS device, the best option is to perform a software update. By doing so, you’re making the spyware outdated and unable to efficiently function as programmed since it’s no longer OS-compatible. If your Apple device has been jailbroken — which is more likely as this is typically a requirement to successfully install the app — you might want to restore it to the original operating system.
- Third-Party Spyware Removal Tool
Probably the fastest and easiest way to remove spyware is to utilize software specifically designed to locate, isolate, and eradicate these malicious programs. Some antivirus apps can also efficiently get rid of spy software. So, check out if your current antivirus can do this for you.
Should you need to install a separate spyware removal tool, be extra careful in selecting which one to utilize. You wouldn’t want to end up downloading another malicious app. Be sure to first check out and validate its reputation and trustworthiness.
- Factory Reset
This would probably be one’s last option, but resetting your phone to its factory settings will most likely get the job done. This option would wipe out everything from your phone, including any installed malicious app. Be sure, however, to back up important files as, unfortunately, a factory reset would permanently delete those too.
- Factory Reset for Android
- Go to Settings and select System.
- Click on Advanced or Reset options.
- Select Erase all data (factory reset) and reset your phone.
- Choose Erase everything to completely erase internal data and restart your phone.
- Restore any backed-up data and set up your device.
- Factory Reset for iOS
- Go to Settings and select General.
- Click on the Reset button at the bottom of the page.
- Tap on Erase All Content and Settings.
- Enter your PIN to confirm the action then click Erase.
Keeping an iOS or Android phone safe and secure is a continuous process that requires the user’s awareness and commitment. Spy apps are able to expose your real-time location, private conversations, personal activities, and various other confidential data. It will certainly cause you trouble if this information falls into the hands of predators. So be sure to always take the following precautionary measures:
- Utilize strong PINs or enable 2-factor authentication.
- Never leave your phone unattended, especially in public places.
- Avoid connecting to public WiFi or networks.
- Keep the operating system up-to-date.
- Regularly clean and optimize your phone.
- Delete any unused apps.
- Install anti-malware software.
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