Malicious files and apps are unfortunately all over the internet. One of them is spyware which is a tool (app, software program, device) enabling someone to remotely keep track of a phone’s activity. To be fair, spyware or monitoring apps can also be great parenting and employee monitoring tools. If placed in the wrong hands or utilized with malicious intentions, it could be a great threat (which we do not condone).
Spyware apps or spying apps have become rather easy to install on Android smartphones and other Android devices. Most spy apps, though, still require physical access to the target device, albeit for just a couple of minutes or so. Once it invades an operating system, it can access text messages, cell phone calls, GPS location, social media activities, browser history, and more. It is, therefore, crucial to immediately locate spyware on Android once you have an inkling your phone has been infected.
5 Warning Signs You Have Spyware On Your Android Phone
Spyware can infiltrate your mobile device through various means. The most common is via third-party apps or those not vetted on Google Play. These hidden spy apps run in stealth mode so you won’t know outright they’re there. Before we discuss how to locate spyware on your Android device, here are some telltale signs a device may be infected with spyware.
- Device Suddenly Shuts Down and/or Restarts
Does your device shutdown in the middle of running an application? Does the phone restart suddenly even when you’re not using it? If this is the case, then it might be infected with spyware. Typically, a phone will only shutdown or restart if prompted to do so (or when it’s out of battery). This could be indicative of a spyware infection because installing any application that affects a device’s operating system will typically require a restart.
Installing legitimate apps on a phone should not require reboots, so this is a big red flag. If strange reboots happen while you are holding your phone, then chances are someone has remote access to it. One more thing, if your screen lights up or there are other strange activities while your device is in standby mode, this may be a sign of a malware infection.
- Battery Life Span
Spyware is known to quickly drain a phone’s battery. So if the battery life span seems to shorten dramatically, that’s a red flag. Sure, this can be attributed to a battery’s age or heavy usage, but if it is too sudden, then that’s quite suspicious. This is especially so if there are no relevant changes in your usage patterns or the number of apps running in the background.
Spyware is also designed to run in the background. If your phone, therefore, is getting warm/hot even when you’re not utilizing it, that could be indicative of spyware.
- Strange Background Noise During Calls
The most elite spyware can record your phone calls (which is illegal) in addition to the call log information. Due to this, there might be strange noises, like people talking distantly whenever you talk on your phone. Now, this could also be a network problem so you may want to check by making a call utilizing another device. In case only your phone has the strange noises during phone calls, then it may have been compromised by spyware.
- Spike In Your Data Usage
Some spyware apps send data logs to and from your device and use up your data doing so. The particularly low-quality spyware eats up a great chunk of your data to transfer the information gathered. The more cutting-edge spyware, however, has been designed to utilize a smaller amount of data making it harder to spot data usage changes.
- Unusual Random Messages and Notifications
Have you been getting strange text messages or emails? Have you been receiving links and attachments from unusual messages? Have you been getting odd social media notifications and/or messages? Do these messages contain strange symbols and numbers? Well then, your device might have spyware on it. There are spyware apps and tools that send command features to be configured on your phone. If you receive unusual messages from unknown or suspicious senders, it’s best not to open them. Also, avoid clicking links and opening attachments from suspicious senders or sources.
If you observe any of the aforementioned happenings on your device, then there’s a chance your device may be spyware-infected. To remove spyware running in the background, you have to locate the spyware first.
How To Find Spyware On Your Android Phone
- Go Through Your Apps
We all have those unforgotten file folders and applications that were used once or twice. Doing a phone clean-up will grant you more storage space and help in identifying and removing unwanted apps. Look through the list of installed apps and pinpoint those that you don’t remember downloading. Keep in mind some apps may have been pre-installed which is why you don’t remember them. If you see a suspicious app but are unsure whether to go ahead and remove it, conduct some research. If others have encountered problems because of the same app then go ahead and delete it. Again, we would like to point out you should avoid getting third-party apps, especially from suspicious sources.
- Check App Permissions
This could be time-consuming since you’ll have to check which apps have access to your microphone, camera, or location data. The aforementioned permissions may indicate the app is tracking your phone activity. Beware of app permissions if you didn’t grant access in the first place. While this option could be done manually, some apps and tools include some privacy. Just make sure to get a reliable app from a reputable source.
For manual checking simply open Settings > Apps or Manage Apps > App Permissions, then tap each permission to check the apps that are granted access. You may want to delete the apps that were mysteriously granted such permissions since they may be secretly tracking your activity.
- Always Check Your Location Symbol
Android devices typically display a small symbol in the notification bar at the top of the screen to inform the user an app is utilizing the device’s location. If this symbol constantly appears even when you are not utilizing any app with access to your location information, chances are a spy app is tracking your location in stealth mode. You may need to check your app permissions and/or go through your apps to weed out the spy app.
- Check If Google Play Protect Is Disabled
Google Play Protect serves as the built-in virus and malware scanner on Android devices. It runs in the background and automatically scans every application downloaded onto your device. It is turned on by default so if it has been turned off, someone may have accessed your device and installed something malicious.
Check your Google Play Protect settings by opening the Google Play Store app > Menu > Play Protect > Settings. The Scan Device for Security Threat option must be turned on. If it’s not, then search your apps to look for suspicious ones that could be spyware.
- Use A Spyware Scanning and Removal Tool
You can check for and locate spyware on your device manually. If, however, you need a more convenient way to do this, opt to utilize a spyware scanning and removal tool. Just make sure to get it from a reputable source. Such tools will scan your phone for spyware by going through the settings and permissions.
If you spot any of the red flags mentioned in this article and locate spyware or any suspicious app on your Android phone, remove them immediately. Manually remove the spyware or opt to utilize a reputable spyware removal tool. Whichever you prefer, the important thing is to remove the spyware and end any further privacy invasion and data compromise. The moment you suspect someone is tracking your every move via your device, act on it.
Spyware can be a serious threat, and anyone could become a victim. Phone activity monitoring and location tracking could easily escalate to money and/or identity theft and the ruination of your reputation. Be informed and vigilant, always.