One of the most common questions we get asked is “how to stop someone from spying on my cell phone?“
Our phones contain massive amounts of personal data. We now store more information about ourselves digitally than ever before.
This makes our phones the perfect place for hackers and identity thieves to look for prey. If a thief can secretly gain access to a phone, they can quickly tap into a treasure trove of your personal information.
But how do you know if someone has been spying on your cell phone?
Contents of This Guide
How Can Someone Spy On Your Phone?
Spy apps are the most common way for people to spy on someone else’s phone. These apps are extremely powerful and allow them to see just about everything that happens on the phone.
Even though it is illegal to spy on someone’s phone without their permission, people do it every day.
Phone Surveillance Apps
Phone surveillance apps come in two varieties. There are phone spying apps for Android that must be downloaded and installed on the device itself.
There are also iPhone spying apps that can pull data from a user’s iCloud backups.
While spying is sometimes very obvious, it’s often hard to tell if someone is watching you or trying to steal your private data. Sometimes even the best passwords or security measures just aren’t enough.
If you think someone might be spying on you or trying to get control of your phone, read on for a clear instruction how to locate and eliminate the spyware.
Common Signs Someone Is Spying on Your Phone
If you suspect someone is spying on your cell phone, there are a few telltale signs to look for.
While it still might be tough to detect the actual spy, many of the most common phone hacking and spying methods can be discovered if you know where to look.
1. Fast Battery Drainage
Phone batteries have really improved in recent years. Even if you use your phone around the clock, most newer models can make it through a day and then some.
There are plenty of reasons why your battery might be draining quickly, but if your phone battery seems to be crashing and burning like an early 2000s flip phone, you’ve got a problem.
While an obvious answer might be that something is wrong with the battery or phone, a rapidly draining battery could also be an indicator of spying software. Since spying software constantly uses data and other functions of your phone, like the camera, this type of software can drain a phone’s battery pretty quickly.
Keep an eye on your phone’s battery and take note of any odd fluctuations or quick drains.
2. Uncertain Phone Shutdown and Restart
Improved hardware and software have also made many newer phones very reliable. Most phones don’t crash or restart at random unless something has gone awry.
If your phone doesn’t appear to be defective or have other noticeable problems, it may have fallen victim to spying software.
While all phones take some time to shut down and restart, slow or frequent restarts could be a clear indicator that another program is slowing down the normal shutdown process or causing the phone to shut down at other times.
Be sure to check your phone right away if it’s shutting down or restarting erratically.
3. Battery Too Hot Without Any Heavy Functioning
Another obvious sign that something isn’t quite right with your phone is an overly hot battery.
Most phones are designed to operate quite cooly. Mobile operating systems have been optimized to use the battery and other components as efficiently as possible.
Adding an extra software program designed to run continuously and spy on the user, however, can place a tremendous additional strain on the battery.
If your phone feels more like the hood of your car in the palm of your hand than an easy to use device, it may be time to inspect it for potential threats.
4. Background Noises or Odd Sounds During Calls
While background noise was once a feature present in nearly all phone calls, call quality has been improved significantly by modern phone service providers. Most calls today have a clear, smooth connection.
But, if you hear odd noises or other voices in the background of your calls and know that the other person is not in a noisy public place, you may need to check your phone. Phone tapping and spying is a serious issue that needs to be addressed right away.
5. Strange Messages
If you’ve ever received a bizarre spam text message, you know how jarring the experience can be. Spam texts are not just annoying, but are often much more convincing than spam emails.
A sudden glut of spam texts or texts from total strangers could be a more serious problem than you might think though. This troublesome issue could be another indicator that someone is trying to spy on your phone.
6. Abnormally High Data Usage
Unlimited data plans are all the rage these days, but how much data do you actually use?
If you have wifi at home or at work, you probably don’t use as much data as you think. And if you’re anything like the average user, you probably use a pretty consistent amount each month.
But if your data usage takes a sudden unexpected spike… beware.
Spying apps burn through loads of data, so a sudden spike in usage could be a clear indicator that you’ve got problems.
7. Cell Phone Shows Signs of Activity in Standby Mode
If your phone seems to suddenly come to life all its own, you may want to check it for unwanted spying software.
Unless you receive a text, call, or other notification, your phone shouldn’t do much at all when not in use.
8. Unexpected Reboot
It’s not unusual for a cell phone to occasionally crash and restart. If you use your phone heavily or have an older or inexpensive model, you’ve probably had this happen to you occasionally.
But, your phone should not be crashing regularly.
If this is happening to you and nothing else appears to be wrong with your phone, frequent crashes could be caused by unwanted spying software.
9. Difficulty shutting down/rebooting device
Can’t seem to get your device to shut down?
When your phone is off, it should truly be off. No other lights should be on and the screen should be completely black.
If this doesn’t seem to be happening when you try to power down your phone, spy software could be preventing a full shut down.
10. Phone Speed is Sluggish or Slow
Another sign that your phone might be infected with unwanted software is slower than average speeds.
Even if your phone wasn’t the fastest device on the market in the first place, a big slow down is a sure sign that something isn’t right.
Find and Remove Spy Software on Your Cell Phone
There are a few different ways to check for and remove spy apps from your phone, but the methods vary widely based on the type of device you own. Apple iOS, for example, works much differently than the many different versions of Android available on competing devices.
Be sure to take note of your device’s model, maker, and software version before trying to remove any unwanted software. Whether you’re an Android, iOS, or other type of phone user, this information can usually be found in the system settings of your phone.
1. Android Devices
Like it or not… Android devices are a bit more susceptible to spy software than iOS devices.
But spyware can still be located easily and quickly eliminated. You just need to know where to look.
- Begin by locating the Settings app on your device.
- Once you’ve opened Settings, look for an item called Additional Settings.
- Additional Settings will then give you access to Application Management.
- Within Application Management you can actually see all of the apps installed on your phone. You can even see which ones are running right now.
- Look through all of your apps for anything that doesn’t belong. If you have a lot of apps or can’t seem to locate anything, use the search feature to look for apps that contain words like spy, track, trojan, monitor, stealth, or other similar terms.
- If you find something that looks suspicious, delete it right away.
Unfortunately, many spyware apps don’t use obvious names so you may want to simply delete anything you did not install or that looks out of place. Try googling some of your app names if you’re not where they might have come from.
Block Suspicious Android Apps
If you’re an Android user, you can also block apps not authorized by the Google Play store.
Return to Additional Settings in the Settings app and find Safety and Privacy. Then simply uncheck Unknown Sources.
While this won’t block all spyware, it’s a great defensive measure for your phone.
2. iOS Devices
If you’re an iOS user, you can rest a little easier tonight…
Fortunately, it’s quite a bit more difficult for someone to install spying software on an iPhone. But, If you think someone might be spying on your iPhone, you may have a bigger problem on your hands.
To install spyware on your iOS device, someone would actually need to access your device. A spy would either need your iCloud password or have access to your phone long enough to jailbreak it.
However, if someone does get access to your iPhone, you simply need to remove the spyware and update your device to override the jailbreak procedure (if necessary).
If you’re an iOS user, be sure to keep your device secure with strong passwords and Apple’s two-factor authentication.
3. Windows Devices
If you still have a Windows Phone, you’re in luck!
Windows Phone actually has no spy apps available. But, since Windows phones are no longer available — or supported by Microsoft — you may want to be extra careful not to download anything suspicious.
The Solution of Last Resort
If you tried the steps above for either Android or iOS and still seem to be having issues, you may need to reset your phone.
While this might sound dangerous, it’s actually pretty easy. If you reset your phone properly, you also won’t lose a bit of data.
How to Factory Reset an Android Device
If you need to reset an Android device, navigate to the Settings app and select Additional Settings. Then find Backup and Reset.
You’ll then need to select Factory Data Reset.
Finally, click “Erase all app data and apps that can be uninstalled” to erase your phone and return it to factory settings.
This will remove any spyware that may be on your phone.
How to Factory Reset an iOS Device
To reset an iOS device, open the Settings app and find General.
Then, select Reset.
Then choose Erase All Content and Settings to return your phone to its original state.
How to Stop Someone From Spying on Your Cell Phone
Once you’ve rid your phone of spyware, you’ve taken an important first step.
Your phone is safe to use again. But, it’s important to take some to ensure that it won’t happen again. Your phone is really only as safe as your usage habits.
1. Use a Strong Password
It’s dead simple and often feels like a hassle, but good strong passwords are one of the most important security measures you can take.
Make sure your Google Play Store or App Store passwords are strong and tough to guess. Don’t use a password you use somewhere else and be sure to use a unique combination of characters or even a passphrase.
2. Install Security Applications
Another smart way to keep your phone safe from spyware is to install and use security monitoring apps. There are many different apps and services available to help you track and monitor your personal security in the digital world we live in.
3. Use Anti-Malware
Malware and spyware can be a real threat to all of your devices.
While anti-malware apps have been available for computers for many years, there are also quite a few available for mobile devices. These apps routinely monitor your device — ensuring that you don’t pick up any unwanted items.
4. Use Encryption Tools
While strong passwords and a cautious approach to your digital activities can provide a tremendous amount of protection, encryption can add another layer of protection to many of the things you do each day.
Encryption apps and services are available to just about every area of your digital life, from email encryption tools, to secure backups, password keepers, and more.