Home Internet Privacy How to Stop Someone from Spying On Your Cell Phone? How to Stop Someone from Spying On Your Cell Phone? by Scott O'Connor/ September 20, 2019/ 1070 Views The governments around the world; be it the democracy championing Europe or the bastion of freedom – United States, have been increasingly turning to surveillance programs, and ramping up their use of technologies that assist towards achieving that goal. Not to mention the infringement of citizen’s privacy unleashed by tyrannical leaderships prevailing in Asia, monarchs in the Middle East and the military dictatorships in Africa. As if things weren’t bad already, researchers discovered that over a thousand Android apps were tracking their users, although they had not been given the permission to do so. The apps collected data from the other installed apps, metadata tags from the photos and even call logs without the express permission of the users – a situation that can only be described as spying. In today’s world, staying secure online seems virtually impossible. The bigwigs do everything in their power, to find out what you are doing on your phone, without a care in the world for your privacy. Since, you can’t just get rid of your phone and throw it away, securing it has become the need of the hour. The importance of app permissions Android phones give their users the option of deciding, what kind of data the apps installed on their phones can access and the users can easily turn the access on or off for each app. If you feel uncomfortable with any of the permissions each app has received, you can turn it off or even uninstall it. Many people opt to delete Pokemon, delete Safari among other popular apps to solve this issue. Now, coming to the more important question. How to tell if your phone is tapped? Almost all the spyware tools most commonly being used, have certain bugs or glitches which can help you detect their presence. This can be simply done by paying close attention to how your mobile device is functioning. Here are some of the signs that will let you know if something fishy is going on with your mobile phone: Battery getting drained: Extreme battery drainage is caused by resource-intensive operations run by the device – streaming, gaming, downloading, etc. But, if you realize that your battery is getting drained without any such activities taking place, this could be a symptom of harmful spyware. Such malignant software which finds their way to user’s devices, use a substantial amount of the device’s resources to run. Spike in Data Usage: Since the spyware apps send private data from your phone to the hacker’s servers, excessive data usage indicates that you are infected. Therefore, it might be a good idea to keep track of your data usage so that you can immediately identify irregularities in the usage of data. Mysterious texts: Some spyware tools receive instructions from their creators in the form of text messages. A simple text can start GPS tracking, enable the camera or microphone and start recording you without your consent. They may seem harmless and sound like gibberish from an unknown party but ignoring them could prove to be disastrous. Most popular and easily available spyware: There are many spying apps available on the market for download: Spyera TheOneSpy FlexiSPY mSpy Highster Mobile All these apps can easily monitor and record text messages and phone calls. You can be a potential or current victim of any of the above. Even worse, with these apps, a hacker can assume control of your phone’s microphone and listen to everything happening in the background. Furthermore, the advanced spyware applications can steal your passwords, turn your camera on to spy on you and even lock your phone, thus making it impossible for you to use your phone again. Easy Steps to Protect Your Cell Phone: If you have strong reason to believe that someone is indeed spying on your phone, the next step is to take the necessary steps to get rid of the spyware and secure your phone. Different solutions exist for users of different platforms as explained below: 1- Android Users: If you are an Android device owner, you can find out whether there is a spy software installed, by viewing your phone’s files. 1- Visit “Settings” 2- View “Additional Settings” 3- Tap on “Application management” You will come across a list of file names in this folder. Once in the folder, run a search for terms like, spy, monitor, stealth or track. These are some of the most common file names for the spy software on Android devices. 4- If you find something with such file names, immediately delete it. If you are unable to do so, it is recommended that you visit your wireless provider’s nearest store or go to BestBuy – their teaching team can help you clean your phone of any spyware it has installed. – Block Unverified Apps: You can also block unverified apps that have not been officially verified by Google, by easily making adjustments to your security settings. Visit Settings Navigate “Additional Settings” and then “Safety & Privacy” Remove the check from “Unknown Sources” box (This restriction stops the installation of apps that are not verified from Google Play) It may not work as a safeguard against the most advanced spyware but the low-level ones will be easily blocked. Additionally, you can also choose to hide browser history 2- iOS Users: Mostly when intruders want to break into your iOS device, they have to jailbreak it. This makes it possible for them to circumvent Apple’s security and the modification restrictions and then take full control of your device. For instance, mSpy is a legally available app in the Apple store and is made for parents who wish to monitor their children. But, any suspicious elements can also misuse this app and install it on your iOS device if they have access to it. For this purpose, only your iCloud password is required which can be derived out by way of social engineering antics. If this is the case, you can simply change your iCloud password to stop mSpy’s activities. A tip to remember at all times is, you should keep upgrading your device with the latest available patches/updates regularly, which removes potential jailbreaks and any third party software easily. 3- Windows Users: The good news for windows users is, there are no known spy software available for phones with the Windows system, for now. Therefore, no solution is required for Windows users. Therefore, if you happen to be a Windows user you can count your blessings since you are safe from the bad guys. Factory Reset – the last option: The factory reset is the last stand you can take as a phone user for any kind of operating system being used. Resetting your phone to the factory settings deletes all the third party apps, hence removing any potential spy software as well. However, it is recommended that before taking this extreme step, you take the necessary precautions and create a backup of your contacts, photos and any other important data that you can’t risk losing. Factory reset for Android Users: You can reset your Android phone through the following steps: Go to Settings Navigate “Additional Settings” Navigate to “Backup and Reset” and then “Factory Data Reset” Now, click on “Erase all app data and apps that can be uninstalled” Once you have reset your cell phone to its factory settings, you can download and install the AppNotifier app which will notify you when a new application is installed on your phone. Thus, whenever someone tries to install malicious software on your phone, you are alerted about it. Factory reset for iPhone Users: You can reset your iPhone through the following steps: Find Settings Navigate to “General” and then “Reset all settings” You can also reset your iPhone back to factory settings with the help of iTunes. Connect your iPhone to the computer Visit iTunes Click “Restore iPhone” Did You Discover someone spying on you? Usually, people falling prey to spy software are not aware of it happening. But upon discovering they get into panic mode. Therefore, it is recommended that if you come across something of the sort that your cell phone is showing any signs of the above, remain calm. Follow the steps mentioned in this guide as soon as you can. It may not necessarily be the work of a spy software, but as they say, better safe than sorry! Tweet Pin It About The Author Scott O'Connor Scott is a cyber-security professional. He's been writing in the internet privacy niche for a while now and has churned variety of informational pieces to educate his audience. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook and IG.