Your phone probably has data you don’t want anyone accessing. Unfortunately, some malicious individuals could bypass the device’s security and use hidden spy apps to monitor your location, texts, calls, payment details, and social media.
Although your phone might not alert you when you’re being tracked, there might be tell-tale signs that all is not well. Additionally, there are some methods you can use to detect spy apps on your Android and delete them.
Dive in as we learn more.
Method #1: Look for Signs of a Hidden App
Your phone may show some signs when a tracking app is installed. Although these problems aren’t definite proof that you have a hidden app on your Android, they attest there is something amiss.
Sign #1: You Frequently See the Location Icon
Whenever an app on your phone tracks your location, a small teardrop or map marker icon will appear in your notification bar. If there are no apps with access to your location in use and the symbol is still present, it is possible that you have a spy app.
Sign #2: Increase in Data Usage
A spy app will most likely collect data from your device and send it to the hacker using your internet data. This will lead to higher data bills or high daily spending that you cannot account for. If your data usage is suddenly higher than usual, it is possible that you have spyware.
Sign #3: Battery Drain
If your device’s battery is suddenly draining faster, it is possible that there is malware or spyware. Although the battery life won’t last as long as when your phone was new, it should still not run out with minimal usage.
Sign #4: Unusual Behavior
You know that something is wrong if your phone displays unusual behavior, like weird notifications, rebooting or shutting down unexpectedly, making noises when not in use, and mysteriously deleting stuff, among others. In such cases, a spy app is a potential culprit.
Method #2: Scan Your Device
As mentioned earlier, the above are only signs that your Android could have a spy app. To help verify your claims, you will need to scan your device. You can use either Google Play Protect or third-party apps.
Method 2.1: Using Google Play Protect
Step 1: Open the Google Play Store App
Tap the Play Store app icon to open the Google Play Store app.
Step 2: Open the Google Play Store Menu
Click on your profile icon at the top right corner to open a menu. If you don’t have a profile picture, you will see a circle with your initials.
Step 3: Open Play Protect
Click Play Protect, the fourth option on the Google Play Store menu.
Step 4: Scan the Device
Tap Scan at the center of the screen to scan all the apps installed. In case Google Play Store detects any malicious apps, it will inform you and give you instructions on how to uninstall them.
Here is a step-by-step video for further reference:
Method 2.2: Using Third-Party Apps
Google Play can scan malware in your device, but it may miss some spyware. Therefore, if your phone is still misbehaving after scanning using Google Play Protect, you can go for third-party apps such as Avast Mobile Security, MalwareFox, and Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus, among others.
Here is how to scan apps using AVG Security & Virus Scanner.
Step 1: Download the App
Open the Google Play Store and type the name of the app on the search bar.
Once you find it, tap Install to download and install.
Step 2: Open the App
Tap open on Play Store after the app downloads, or go back to your app’s list and look for the app you downloaded. Sign in or subscribe if necessary to continue.
Step 3: Scan Apps
Click on Start Scan to begin scanning your apps using this anti-malware app. In case there are any malicious apps detected, the app will guide you on how to remove the malware from your device.
Method #3: Check Your Apps
It is possible to see whether you have spy apps installed on your device by simply looking through your app list and seeing whether there are any you didn’t install. You may miss the app if you look for it through your launcher since it may be hidden. Therefore, you can access apps through settings.
Here is how you do this.
Step 1: Open Settings
Click on the gear-like icon among your app list to open the Settings app.
Step 2: Go to Apps
Scroll through the settings menu as you look for Apps. Under Apps, select Manage Apps.
Step 3: Look for the App and Uninstall It
When in Manage Apps, read through the names of the apps installed on your Android.
In case you find one that looks suspicious or you don’t remember installing, tap it to open App info, then select Uninstall.
Method #4: Reboot to Safe Mode
Rebooting in safe mode is a process where you reboot your phone and deactivate all third-party apps. Doing so will help you identify all apps with administrative rights that are not supposed to have them.
Here is how to find and eliminate hidden spy apps by rebooting to safe mode.
Step 1: Reboot Your Device into Safe Mode
Press the power button to shut down your phone. Turn it back on by pressing the power button again until the phone’s logo appears.
Hold the volume down button until the phone reboots into safe mode Indicated by the words Safe mode at the bottom left corner of your screen.
Step 2: Go to Phone Settings
Scroll through your apps and tap the app with the gear-like icon to open Settings. You can also search for Settings in the search apps bar.
Step 3: Go to Device Admin Apps
The process of opening device admin apps differs based on the Android type you are using.
For Samsung, go to Apps under Settings and tap the three dots at the top right corner. Select Special Access, and you will find Device Admin Apps under that.
For other Android versions like Xiaomi, go to Security & Privacy, select Special Permissions, and you will find Device Admin Apps under that.
Step 4: Remove Apps with Unnecessary Administrative Privileges
Look through the device admin apps in your device and see whether there are any with unnecessary administrative privileges.
If you come across any, deactivate them by selecting Deactivate this device admin app at the bottom of the screen.
Step 5: Uninstall the App
Tap the arrow at the top left of your screen and continue doing so until you get to the main settings menu. Under that, select Apps, then Manage Apps to open a list of your app.
Look for the app to which you disabled administrative privileges, then select Uninstall.
Step 6: Exit Safe Mode
Long press the power button and select Reboot.
Your device will reboot into normal mode thus exiting safe mode.
Method #5: Check Your Permissions
If you’re fond of allowing permissions without caution, you may have granted permissions to a spy app. Therefore, check the apps granted various permissions and ensure that each of these permissions is justified.
Follow these steps to check permissions.
Step 1: Go to Settings
Type Settings in the search apps bar and tap the app with a gear icon to open it.
Step 2: Open the Permissions Manager
Scroll through the Settings menu as you look for Apps. Under Apps, select Permissions to open the Permission Manager.
Step 3: Check the Permissions Granted
Read through the various permissions under the Permission Manager as you look at the apps granted every permission.
In case you come across an app with unnecessary permission, deny the permission. Uninstall the app if you find it suspicious.
Spy apps are installed by hackers or people you know, such as your parents, partner, or employer, to track your actions through your phone. Unfortunately, these apps are hidden, and it’s not always easy to spot them.
Use the methods above to help you find these surveillance apps on your device and uninstall them. If you still notice something suspicious, consider performing a factory reset.
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The image featured at the top of this post is ©Framesira/Shutterstock.com.