How to Remove Spyware Apps or Stalkerware That Secretly Monitors Your Smartphone
Someone may be spying on your cell phone. You probably take your smartphone with you everywhere you go and use it daily, if not hourly, to communicate. Imagine if your phone was being monitored by a stalking app or your spouse was spying on you with spyware. All your private information could be exposed – without your knowledge with a phone spying app installed.
People use their phones for everything including communicating with friends and family, online shopping, banking, storing photos and all kids of other highly personal information. If spyware was on your phone, it could expose some or all the information from your phone including the websites your visited, your email logins, social media passwords, credentials for banking apps, and credit card information. Some spy apps can even read your text messages, emails, monitor calls, and track your location.
Some spyware apps are legal and are marketed to parents so they can monitor the communications, activity, and location of their children. But the FTC recently settled a case against Retina-X because the spy app company did not ensure that their apps were being used legally and not as stalker apps by people spying on spouses or for unauthorized monitoring of other people’s phones.
So how can you tell if spyware is on your phone and someone is spying on your phone calls?
What is Stalkerware?
Stalkerware, also called spyware or stalking apps, allow someone to track a phone or tablet. That means your stalker can track your phone’s location, read messages sent to and from the phone, and monitor phone calls without your knowledge. Some spyware apps can access and turn on your phone’s camera or microphone without your knowledge or interaction to spy on you.
Stalkerware is used to spy on someone’s phone remotely.
How Can I Tell If Spyware Is on My Phone?
If you’re concerned that a coworker, significant other, or spouse is spying on your phone then you should check it for signs that you are being monitored. The process differs a little by phone type and operating system.
Anyone who has had a few minutes of access to your phone can install a spy app. If you’re wondering if your cell phone is spying on you check its battery usage. Most smart phones have battery usage optimizer or you can download one to see what’ draining battery life . If you notice that your phone’s battery depletes faster than usual, there may be a stalking app installed. If its running constantly, monitoring activity, calls, text messages, and location it will use a lot of power.
If you have unexpected data charges on your cell phone bill that may be because the spy app is using more data than you normally would. If you have trouble turning off your phone this is also a sign that someone is spying on your cell phone.
How to Detect A Spy App on My Phone
Check if your smartphone has been rooted or jailbroken. Jailbreaking refers to Apple iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch) while rooting, or installing a rootkit, refers to Android devices.
Jailbreaking and rooting both mean that the operating system that came factory installed with the phone has been hacked into. Sometimes this is done with good intentions by smartphone owners to give the phone more features and remove preinstalled apps that they don’t want. When you jailbreak a phone, you have unrestricted access to the filesystem and can modify or install any app or software they want with no restrictions including stalkerware.
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Signs Spyware Is Running on Your Phone
- Rooted or Jailbroken Operating System
- Battery Drains Faster Than Normal
- Higher Data Usage
- Phone Won’t Shutdown Quickly or At All
- Random Noises During Calls
- Phone is Slow to Open or Close Apps
- Difficulty Shutting Down Phone Due to Spyware
- Phone Reboots on Its Own
- Phone is Hot or Overheats
Names of Spyware Programs on Android
- Highster Mobile
iPhone Spy App File Names
- Highster Mobile
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How to Track Spyware on A Cell Phone
Cell phone spyware detection and removal on Android phones can be tricky because spyware apps can hide themselves. Some spyware apps hide their own app icon, so the user won’t realize that something new has been installed and won’t know where to begin to look for a stalker app. But you can detect spyware on your smartphone if you look for some of the common symptoms of a resource draining app and look into your file system.
How to Remove Spy Phone App – Android Phones
- Tap the Settings icon
- Select Apps
- From the dropdown menu select All Apps
- Click on any suspicious apps and see if they have unnecessary permissions like access to phone contacts or to use background data
- Look for any suspicious or unknown app names. Keep in mind spyware apps don’t always display obvious sketchy names and you will have to look closely at all apps and their data usage
For any suspicious app, tap Install Unknown Apps to check to see if the app can download or update from outside of Google Play.
As a last resort you may have to factory reset your phone.
To Remove Spy Phone App – Android Phones
- Tap Storage
- Select Clear Cache
- Tap Clear Data
- Backup one Screen
- Tap Force Stop
- Tap Uninstall
This is a restriction that blocks the installation of applications outside of the Google Play Store.
How to Remove Spy Phone App – iPhone
Cell phone spyware detection and removal on iPhone Is not as involved because most likely a hacker or unauthorized person would have to jailbreak your iPhone to get spyware installed. There are some legal spyware apps marketed at parents who want to keep track of their children which do not require jailbreaking. For example, Highster Mobile and mSpy work on an iPhone that has not been jailbroken.
How to Remove A Spy Phone App – iPhone
- Connect your iPhone to iTunes
- Download the latest iOS
- Change your password for iCloud
As a last resort you may have to factory reset your iPhone.
- Connect your iPhone to your Mac
- Open iTunes
- Click on Restore iPhone
Michelle writes about cyber security as well as how to protect data online. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Michelle published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers