Today’s in this digital era, nobody is one hundred percent secure. It’s virtually not possible to be secured enough from all sorts of threats like spyware, virus, surveillance system, etc. we face in our daily life.
We cannot get rid of our smartphones or computers anyway, so the only option we have is making our phones as secure as possible. Having said that, you cannot be totally secured against all the threats, especially if government agencies are after your data for whatever reasons.
That’s rather impossible as they have access to every kind of modern technology that needed to track and monitor your data and activity, and the power of law in their hand – you simply can’t beat them in this game.
So, be a nice guy and don’t ever think that you can get away with some illegal actions of yours just with the help of some software or method. This article is for those who need to be protected from unlawful spying by the third-party entities like their employers, suspecting spouse, a business rival, etc. – not from law enforcement monitoring.
Play nice, and stay safe – that’s the mantra here. So, without wasting more time, let us jump on today’s subject: how to stop someone from spying on my cell phone.
How can I tell if someone is spying on my phone?
If someone is spying on your phone, it’s pretty evident that he or she had physical access to your phone for at least a few moments. Otherwise, it’s not possible for anybody to spy on your phone remotely, except in two cases.
First, if the adversary is government or any government agency, they have advanced technology to do so, or they can simply make your mobile service provider track your calls, messages, etc. by a subpoena. So, as mentioned already, if you’re not someone who can be a target of law enforcement, this should not be your concern.
The second one is pretty scary, though – but you can be alert to prevent that as well. In this case, a hacker can send a malicious link in disguise of a standard service message or by an email that could install spyware silently in the background once you tap on that link.
So, be careful of any such message which offers anything for free or something very lucrative; do not click that link at all no matter how irresistible the offer is. It’s the number one measure if you want to be safe online – do not click any link ever unless you’re expecting that message or email, instead always type the URL in the browser manually.
Now, let’s see how to tell if your phone is being spied on.
1. Your phone battery is draining much faster
Phone battery drains more quickly when you do some gaming, browsing the web while opening multiple tabs in your browser, or open a lot of apps. And it consumes power very slowing when it’s in an idle state.
That’s the basic principle of how things work on your smartphone. But if your battery still drains power even when it’s not being used by you – that means some hidden activity is still running even if you’re not aware of what.
Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s not a result of some technical glitches on your phone; in fact, in most cases, that’s the primary cause of faster battery drain. But if you have enough reason to think that somebody can try to spy on your phone, you do not want to ignore this signal and try to locate spyware on android.
Today’s spy apps are smart enough not to be detectable very easily – in fact, chances are you won’t find the malicious app on the “running services” list, cause it runs hidden. If it was so easy to detect monitoring apps, why that would be called as spy apps, right?
So what can you do? The best and guaranteed way to remove such malicious apps is to factory reset the phone. Agreed that it would also delete all of your files, pictures, messages, etc., but that can be avoided if you do the regular backup to some offline storage devices.
2. Your mobile data bill is rising significantly
Even though you’re not using more than you usually do. This happens when spy apps send information back to the hacker while hiding in the background, which consumes data.
Excessive data usage can be caused by many other factors, for example, auto-updates of the installed apps. Check your phone if the auto-update option is checked in the setting option.
It’s a good practice to always use the latest versions of the apps to avoid security glitches, however, if you’re using a metered connection, such as mobile data, it can cost you dearly, especially if there are some heavy games installed on your phone, and auto-update option is on for them.
Now, if the auto-update is not enabled, and still the data being consumed, you can almost be certain that your phone has been compromised by some spyware. A clean factory reset would bring your device in life in this condition.
Why are we recommending factory reset always and not some antivirus or antimalware? That’s because such apps are not always very effective. Surely you can get remove some old and basic spyware or malware, but today’s spy apps are much advanced and can work in stealth mode without getting detected by almost all the major antimalware brands.
3. The device performance has been decreased lately
Spy apps are designed in a way that it runs 24x7x365 and monitors every activity on your phone. Hence it’s obvious that those apps will run without stopping even when you’re not using the phone, i.e. the phone is in idle mode.
And that means it uses your phone’s processing power non-stop and keeps the phone always busy. Therefore, when you try to do something on your phone, it doesn’t work as efficiently as before, and you face some lags.
Of course, if you’re using a high-end flagship, chances are you never feel such performance lag as the processor in your phone would be able to handle easily. So unless you have a very keen sense, this is not a great way to detect hacking. For low and mid-range phones, this can be a very clear sign that your phone got hacked.
4. Spammy or foreign texts
Different spy apps work differently, and one of them is by text commands. For those who don’t know, a simple SMS with weird or random-looking texts (which are actually valid codes to give instructions to your phone) can do many invasive things like activating your microphone, start recording video, start copying call log, etc.
If you see such SMS in your message box, that says you’re being spied by somebody. As usual, a full reset of your phone would be enough in this case too.
5. The phone feels warm to touch even while in the sleep mode
As explained already if a tracking app is working on your phone, it uses the phone’s processor.
Hence, your phone will be slow, the battery will be depleted at a higher rate, and at the same time, the phone will feel hot even when it’s in a deep-sleep mode as if somebody is using the phone.
So, if you touch the idle phone and feel warm, then something is wrong with it.
6. Distorted or echoed sound
Spy apps can do live call recording secretly, and that can create some distorted audio, like echo, crackling noise, or some other type of weird sound, which is not normal.
This can sometimes happen due to bad signal in your area too. So, just go to another place where you can get a cell tower nearby and make a call to see if the problem sorts out automatically, then it’s nothing to be worried about.
But if the sound doesn’t get clear eventually, then it’s either a mechanical problem in your speaker, or you have been hacked.
What to do if you’re being spied on?
Those are some ways by which you know if your phone has been compromised or not. Now, let’s see what’s there to do if you’re being spied by a hacker.
First of all, if you are certain or at least suspect that your phone is being spied, shut it down immediately. The damage has been done to some extent, and as long as your device is running – the app will keep on spying. Hence, shutting the phone down should be the immediate step.
Once the phone is off, open the sim tray, and remove the sim from the device. This is to make sure that the spy app gets no data connection to transmit any further data once the device is turned on again.
Now, use another phone or a computer and search on Google by the exact signs of your phone. Someone somewhere should have faced a similar problem before, and there should be some discussion regarding the same. Try to understand the severity of the threat and what other people did in their cases to recover.
Boot the phone in Safe mode. Safe mode booting procedure is different for every model, and you can check the user manual or do an online search to know what’s the method for your particular device.
In Safe mode, no installed apps get activated, and you can use only the pre-built apps which came with your phone out-of-the-box. So, if there’s a spy app installed on your device, it won’t be able to function in this mode.
Once booted, check if you’re facing the same problem again, and most likely, you won’t as you’re in Safe mode now. And that confirms that your phone was infected while in regular mode.
Try to find out the spy app in your app drawer first. But almost all spy apps work hiddenly, so it won’t appear in the app drawer. So, do a factory reset in this stage to give the device a fresh start.
Now it’s time to secure your device once again. As you were already being spied, you can assume that your passwords and other important info already got leaked. So, change all the passwords for all of your email accounts, bank app accounts, and lastly, the device pin/password.
Passwords should be long and random enough for anyone to guess except you. Then call your bank and credit card company to check if there’s any purchase or transaction which you can’t recognize. If you found any, make an official complain to your bank and card company. You can do a chargeback for any unauthorized transaction for your credit card too.
Last but not least, choose a good VPN for your device. A VPN would be able to protect your online data with encryption.
How to tell if someone is spying on your iPhone?
iPhone can be somewhat more secure than Android, but it depends if your phone is jailbroken or in stock condition. Usually, the App Store on iPhone doesn’t allow every third party app to be listed there – so it’s unlikely that you got the spy app from the App Store; it must be a third-party app. You can do a factory reset here to get rid of the spyware completely.
Wrapping it up
Getting infected by spyware or being spied by someone is not something you can ignore even if you were able to get rid of it by a factory reset. You should file a complaint to the police for further investigation.
Having said that, removing a spy app from your device is not that complicated – a simple factory reset is all you need. However, as more and more advanced apps are coming in the market, that day is not far away when even a factory reset won’t save your day.
Then again smartphone technologies are evolving too, so it won’t be a one-sided affair ever. Till then, take all the necessary steps to make your device secure in the first place to be one step ahead of those cybercriminals out there.