If you’re looking for ways on how to find hidden spyware on Android, then you’ve come to the right place.
Every smartphone, tablet, and other smart electronic device comes with premium hardware and software features. Because of this, users tend to use their computer less to a point that some computers are not being used anymore.
Android devices nowadays can almost do anything that a regular computer can. While smartphones are becoming similar to computers in usability, Android spyware and viruses are becoming more prevalent.
At this point, you may already possess more private information on your phone than you do on your PC. Privacy is one of the biggest issues on smartphones and if you’re wondering whether someone is tracking your phone or spy on your phone, then continue reading.
For the latest tips, tricks and hacks check out our dedicated section for Android Tricks.
Spywares, What Can They Do?
As the name suggests, spyware is a form of software that’s designed to collect data from your device. This type of malware will infiltrate your device and then steal your internet usage data including sensitive information.
There are 4 types of Android spyware. Each comes with unique tactics to track you.
- Adware. This type of spyware is designed to read the cache of your device to track your browser history and downloads. By doing so, it enables the spyware to predict that products or services you’re interested in which, in turn, causes the adware to display advertisements that are related to what we previously searched.
- Trojan. Trojan for Android is the most dangerous spyware. It disguises itself as legitimate software to penetrate the system of your phone. Spyware like Trojan is controlled by third parties that enables them to have access to sensitive information such as Social Security numbers and credit card information.
- Tracking cookies. As the name suggests, it tracks the user’s web activities based on cookies stored on the phone. This include browser history, searches, and downloads and are used for marketing purposes.
- System monitors. This type of spyware is capable of collecting everything you do on your phone. It basically records all activity including keystrokes, email contents, chat-room dialogs, websites visited, and programs run. Furthermore, they are often disguised as freeware.
Locating Spyware on Android
Locating, finding, and removing hidden spyware on your Android is not as difficult as it sounds. In most cases, hidden spyware apps can be found within the list of apps. The list of apps installed can be found through the phone settings.
In situations where the Spywares can’t be detected no matter what, the best thing you can do is to securely perform a device factory reset. By doing so, any form of spyware installed on your phone will definitely be deleted or removed.
But consider this as a last resort if all else fails.
How To Find Hidden Spyware on Android
Android Spyware usually comes in a form of spying apps, and to find spy apps on your phone, you have to precautiously observe your phone.
People can easily install them on the phones of other users to monitor the targets mobile activities.
Understanding what these spying services can do is necessary for locating spyware on Android. Additionally, the key to knowing how to get rid of it is by understanding how cell phone spyware detection and removal work.
In this post, we’ll share with you several tips that can indicate that your phone is being tracked or spied on, what can be done about it, and how to remove spyware.
Unusual Strange Phone Behavior
One of the most common ways to check spyware on your phone is by looking for odd or strange behavior from your phone. If there is spyware or tracking software installed on your phone, chances are, your phone will act differently.
- Observe if your phone lights up on its own, shutting down automatically or make strange sounds.
- Find apps on your phone that you don’t remember installing. Clicking on malicious links elsewhere, such as a spam email, could be inviting these onto your phone inadvertently.
- Rooted phones are more susceptible to these attacks and unusual behavior. Change your passwords frequently.
- Some nefarious apps will piggy-back onto ones that may seem safe (for example, Godless malware), and back in the days of Jelly Bean exploits were found that allowed remote installation of apps via script injection. These exploits have since been patched, but hackers are always looking for new ways in. It’s always a race to see who can find exploits and either take advantage or secure the breach.
“Can these behaviors have other causes as well?“
Definitely, and those causes may have absolutely nothing to do with spyware.
Unusual Battery Drain
Another useful way to find out whether someone is spying on your phone is an increase in battery usage. After using a phone for a couple of weeks, most people become familiar with battery patterns and know their average battery life. If your phone is suddenly experiencing sub-par battery life for no tangible reason, it could be spyware. Spyware and tracking apps can drain your phone’s battery, especially if they’re running constantly.
It could also be an older battery, a new app you installed that’s running perpetually in the background, or a malfunctioning battery. If your phone is heating up for no discernible reason when it is idle, the same rules apply. It could be spyware, but most modern malware has improved in this area, so consider other causes as well.
Noise During Phone Calls
Look for unusual noise or sounds during phone calls. If you hear beeps or any other sounds during phone calls, then this can mean your calls are being recorded. Call recording apps can make such noises.
Also, if the call quality has suddenly worsened, this can also mean that your phone calls are being recorded. Static or feedback can be signs. However, it might also mean that you simply have a bad connection or that your phone isn’t handling calls well. The world isn’t always a sinister place; but its parts, including carriers and cell phones, have no shortage of problems.
Random Reboots And Shut Downs
Spyware and tracking apps can cause random reboots and shutdowns on Android devices. If you believe that your phone’s software is stable and updated, then random reboots or shutdowns can mean your phone has spyware software installed. An unstable third-party app might also be causing this.
In order to be certain, uninstall the app that you think is causing the random shutdowns. If you still experience random reboots and shutdowns, then your phone might be being tracked or spied on.
Look For Strange Text Messages
Some spyware apps can send strange text messages on phones with different codes or symbols. If you’re receiving such texts on your Android smartphone, then there is a chance your phone is being spied on or tracked.
Stagefright is an all-too-recent example, although it used a video text for its exploit. It was a vulnerability identified and almost entirely addressed without seeing much use by hackers, luckily. If it still freaks out you out, use the app below to make sure you don’t have it on your phone.
High Data Usage
This is also a really useful factor in determining whether your phone has spyware or tracking software installed. Spyware apps can use a lot of data to send out your phone’s information and an increase in your phone’s data usage can also mean that your phone is being spied on. It could also mean that you are spending more time online, so don’t forget to consider all the factors.
Make sure that you monitor your phone’s data usage regularly to find out about any unusually high usage in data. For an app that will help you do this, try My Data Manager below.
Sounds When Your Phone Is Not In Use
When your phone is idle, it shouldn’t make any sort of sound. If you’re hearing sounds when you’re not using your phone, it could mean that your phone is being spied on. If you want to eliminate both the possibility of spyware and also rogue apps causing the noises, perform a factory reset. If your phone is rooted, flash stock firmware. And don’t disregard OS updates. This will solve a lot of these problems.
Delay In Shut Down
Try shutting down your phone several times during the day. Android devices usually shut down quickly, but if your phone is taking an unusually long time shutting down, then this can suggest that someone is monitoring and controlling your phone. Or it could also be an app chewing up resources, an actual hardware problem, or a faulty/corrupted install.
Be wary of pirated apps. Advertisers collect data about your through ad/app bundles. Read what permissions an app requires you grant, and decide if it’s worth it. Watch for clones of legitimate apps and websites. A new technique, called smishing, creates an overlay on top of banking log-ins so that it can steal your information. Ensure you are on a secure site (the IP address starts with HTTPS instead of HTTP) when you enter sensitive information.
Third-party apps can be awesome, but they also haven’t undergone the same amount of scrutiny that app stores like Google Play or Amazon put their apps through. And some bad apps do slip through on these sites as well before they are detected. If you experience issues with an app, get rid of it and reboot. If you still are having problems, start over with a factory reset.
Ironically, a popup that warns about impending doom on your Android, can infect your phone with malware itself. The more you click these dialogue windows, the more possibility you will be redirected to a shady place or click on something deceptive. Never run a .exe or flash file that you aren’t sure about. A lot of advertising popups aren’t malware per se, but sometimes there’s a fine line between advertisements and malware, hence the terms — adware and malvertising.
If a popup proclaims that you’ve won something that’s too good to be true; it probably is. Ads are annoying anyway, and there are a few apps you can download to block them like Adblock Browser for Android. These apps tend to be more effective if you are rooted.
Popups can be a sign of an existing infection, that wants to gain more privileges or information from you.
Check Suspicious Files
If you have a file manager installed on your phone, look for any suspicious files or folders created on your phone. If you find some new files and folders you know for a fact you didn’t install as part of an app or anything else, then there’s a chance your phone has tracking or spyware software installed.
Occasionally, you might be lucky enough to find phone numbers or emails that will lend a clue as to who is doing the tracking, but be certain before you assume and accuse.
Phone Suddenly Became So Slow
If your phone has suddenly become really slow for no obvious reasons at all, then there’s a risk that your phone is being monitored and controlled. Don’t leave your phone unattended around someone you don’t trust, use encryption, or at the very least, a lock screen.
Who’s Doing the Spying or Tracking?
Remember earlier when we said that the world isn’t always a sinister place? It isn’t, but there are some crappy people that do crappy things. What motivates them to take the time out of their day and expend the effort?
Most likely they:
- presume you have something they want,
- feel passionate about gaining your personal information (e.g. cheating spouse),
- need to satisfy an addiction (but hackers/phreakers still need the effort to result in something worthwhile),
- employ an app or method targeting a larger population segment,
- or perhaps, employ you.
There isn’t a great way to identify the person doing the spying, because information can be redirected several times to several places. Your best bet is to prevent or get rid of the spyware.
Commonly Asked Questions
are spyware and malware the same thing?
Technically yes. Spyware is a specific type of malware. Malware is a general term used to describe a number of malicious types of software, including adware, spyware, viruses, trojans and more.
can phone spyware be installed remotely?
Phone spyware can be installed remotely but a few conditions must be met in order to do so. One of those conditions is that you already have remote access on the phone that you wish to place spyware on.
what can phone spyware do?
Spyware, as the name suggests, is capable of collecting data on your phone including personal information like internet surfing habits, content of SMS, user logins, password, as well as bank or credit account information. Spyware can also interfere with a user’s control of the phone by installing additional software or redirecting web browsers.
No user wants viruses, tracking apps or spyware installed on his/her Android smartphone, but hackers are finding it increasingly worthwhile to put it there. The first step in fixing this issue is to check for spyware. Use the tips mentioned above to check whether there are spyware and tracking software installed on your phone, and if so, get rid of it.
Did you find spyware? How did you get rid of it? Tell us below.
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