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How to Find Hidden Spy Apps on Android

Are you worried someone may be spying on you through your smartphone? If they do, your phone will show signs of spying. In this guide, we’ll show you the telltale signs to look out for and how to stop a spyware attack. An easy way to find spyware on Android is to use Clario Anti Spy. It detects suspicious software on your smartphone and helps you safely remove it.

Table of contents

Interesting fact

Around 24,000 malicious apps are uncovered daily, but it’s not as difficult as you might think to detect hidden spyware on Android.

Signs of spyware on Android

Many telltale signs suggest spyware is on your Android phone. Spy apps for Android have become increasingly common over the years, with bad actors frequently using them to secretly monitor unsuspecting users. They can watch you through your camera, listen to your conversations through your microphone, and send your most sensitive data back to an attacker.


So, how can you detect spyware on an Android phone? Here are some things to look out for:

  1. Random reboots and shutdowns
  2. Battery drains unusually fast
  3. Strange phone behavior
  4. Increasing data usage
  5. Suspicious text messages or files
  6. Unusual sounds of a telephone call
  7. Abnormal sounds when your phone is not in use
  8. Android phone is rooted

1. Random reboots and shutdowns

Malicious software often makes an Android device unstable, so you may notice that your cell phone keeps rebooting or shutting down. This is because these programs usually eat up your smartphone’s CPU and memory resources. They also interfere with your device's critical processes to function properly.

2. Battery drains unusually fast

Is your smartphone battery draining faster than usual? This could be indicative of spyware running in the background. Malware is usually unoptimized, meaning that, depending on what it’s used for, it can significantly impact your phone’s hardware, causing it to burn through power much faster.


It’s important to note that innocent apps can sometimes do this, too, if they’re not running as intended, and it’s not unusual to experience faster battery drain in older devices with degraded batteries. However, if your device isn’t that old and does not last long between charges, it’s worth looking into.

3. Strange phone behavior

If your Android phone exhibits odd behavior, it’s time to check for potential threats. Spyware, ransomware, phishing apps, and other malware can cause your device to operate strangely. You may notice your camera doesn’t work properly, apps crash constantly, unrecognized content appears, and other oddities.


Also, take note of the temperature of your device when it hasn’t been used in a while. A device that’s idle shouldn’t consume a lot of power and, therefore, should remain fairly cool. If you pick your smartphone up and it feels hot, as if it’s been working hard, that’s cause for concern.

4. Increasing data usage

Spyware uses your phone’s data connection to share the information it collects from your device with attackers. If you find that your device has unusually high data usage, or you’re getting messages from your carrier that say you’ve exceeded your data cap, and you don’t know why, a hack could be to blame.

5. Suspicious text messages or files

A clear sign that your Android is spying on you is the sudden appearance of suspicious text messages or files. Spyware may use your device to spread itself to other contacts, send data back to attackers, and store information it has collected. You may find evidence of this throughout your smartphone.


In addition to checking the Messages and Files apps for signs of suspicious content, it’s important to check call logs, your camera roll, the Sent folder in your email app, and any social networking apps you have installed for signs that an attacker is spreading their malware, or sending data to themselves.

6. Unusual sounds on a telephone call

If you hear interference or strange noises while you’re on a call, this could mean somebody’s recording you or listening in on your conversation. Poor reception and crossed lines can also cause this kind of behavior, but if you find that it happens on every call, it’s time to check for hidden spy apps on Android.


It’s also a good idea to listen out for similar interference when you’re doing video and voice calls over apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Microsoft Teams when connected to Wi-Fi. While you can blame poor-quality phone calls on bad service, communication over Wi-Fi should be much clearer.

7. Abnormal sounds when your phone is not in use

Have you noticed your phone beeping or making noises when you’re not using it? This could indicate somebody’s spying on you, as your phone shouldn’t make any noises when it’s idle (other than notification sounds, of course).


Listen out for noises that your phone might make during normal operation. For instance, the sound some apps produce when you refresh them or the ping you hear when you send an email or text message. If these things are heard when your phone is asleep, someone may have remote access.

8. Android phone is rooted

If you find that your Android phone is rooted and it’s not something you did yourself, malicious software is almost certainly to blame. Innocent applications have no need to gain root access to a user’s smartphone, and anything that asks for this you should get rid of immediately.


Root access allows a program to interfere with system files that it wouldn’t normally be able to get to. This can cause your device to malfunction and, sometimes, corrupt the operating system to the point that it needs a complete reset or reinstall. Here’s how to confirm if your device is rooted:

  1. Open Settings, then tap About phone.
  2. Select Status or Status information.
  3. Look for Phone status or Device status, which should say Official. If you see Custom or anything else, root access is attainable on your Android.
Android screenshots showing how to access your phone status and see whether it's an official Android or not. Check if your Android is legit and find hidden apps to block hackers.

Types of hidden spyware on Android device

You may not be surprised to learn that there are tens of thousands of different types of spyware that target Android devices. Although every strain of spyware is slightly different, most are designed to exploit your phone in a few common ways. These include:

  1. Abuse of legitimate programs
  2. Commercial spyware
  3. Zero-day spyware

1. Abuse of legitimate programs

More sophisticated spyware attacks take advantage of legitimate apps and programs on your Android device. This helps make them undetectable for longer periods, which increases the amount of spying and data collection they can achieve. Some of the most common abuses are of maps and tracking apps.

1.1 Maps and navigation apps

Almost all of us rely on maps and navigation apps to get around, whether we’re visiting new places or just trying to avoid the traffic on our morning commute. Unfortunately, these apps are a frequent target for spyware infections that want to know where you are, where you’ve been, and where you might be going.


You may think that you’re safe if you stick to using trusted maps applications like Google Maps or Waze, and while that’s certainly a good idea, hackers have been known to infect these programs to harvest all the information they contain about you.

1.2 Legitimate tracking apps

Legitimate tracking apps are also a large target for attackers. Software like FindMyKids and Family Locator are helpful for keeping an eye on your kids or finding friends when meeting up, but they contain a wealth of information on your whereabouts, your friends, and your loved ones.


For spies who want to know this information, hacking into apps like these is an easy way to obtain it. Tracking apps have access to your smartphone’s GPS connection so that they can accurately locate you, which means that any attacker who breaks into the app can view this information, too.

2. Commercial spyware

Commercial spyware is surveillance software that can be purchased on the open market. Some of the best-known examples are mSpy and FlexiSpy, which can track and monitor a person’s activity then send it back to a spy. Anyone can purchase these programs for as little as $30.


There are a couple of things that make commercial spyware particularly scary. Because it is sold for a price, its creators typically have more time and a greater incentive to make the software as effective as it can be. In addition, they put more effort into making the spyware untraceable.


Commercial spyware can be difficult to detect without the help of third-party tools. It will hide itself completely if it doesn’t disguise itself as a legitimate application.

3. Zero-day spyware

Zero-day spyware takes advantage of what are known as zero-day vulnerabilities. These are bugs or flaws in the Android operating system and in third-party apps that attackers exploit before Google and other software vendors become aware of them and have an opportunity to fix them.


This not only makes the spyware difficult to detect but also makes it difficult to stop since attackers are one step ahead of those who have the ability to find and patch the vulnerabilities to block the attacks.


One zero-day attack on Android, which could be distributed through the Chrome browser using common phishing methods, allowed attackers to gain control of at least 18 different smartphone models back in 2019, including those made by Google. It had the potential to affect millions of people until it was eventually fixed.

How to detect spyware on Android phone

If you’re wondering how to find hidden spy apps on Android, you can carry out a series of manual checks yourself. Here’s what to look out for when searching for hidden spy apps on your phone:

  1. View programs you don’t recognize
  2. Check app permissions
  3. Check for unusual location symbol
  4. Keep an eye on Google Play Protect

1. View programs you don’t recognize

Take a look through the apps on your phone (including those in folders) to see if there are any you don’t remember downloading or don’t recognize. Most of us have folders filled with games or other apps we haven’t used in a while, which makes it easy for spyware to hide inside them.


If you find any software that you didn’t install yourself, it’s important to uninstall it right away in case it’s a malicious application. Even if it’s not spyware, it could be a keylogger, ransomware waiting for an opportunity to lock down your device, or another kind of malicious application.

2. Check app permissions

This can take a little time, but checking which apps can access your location, camera, or microphone can help determine if any hidden spy apps for Android are secretly tracking you. Here’s how to check:

  1. Open Settings > Privacy.
  2. Select Permission Manager. On some phones, you may need to tap the three dots menu at the top right first.
  3. Select each permission to see which apps have access to it.
Android screenshots showing how to open Settings, access the Permission Manager, and check what apps have access to permissions. Find and delete hidden apps on Android.

Some apps, even legitimate ones, will try to gain unnecessary access to many permissions. For instance, many apps like to have access to your contacts, photos, and location despite not needing access to these things to operate as intended. They simply want to collect all the data they can.


With that being the case, if you notice any apps accessing permissions they don’t need, revoke those permissions. This will not only make it more difficult for them to harvest your data and possibly sell it to third parties, but it also minimizes the potential damage should the app get hacked later on.

3. Check for unusual location symbol

You’ll see a small teardrop symbol in your phone’s notification bar when an app is using your device location. If you see this appear when you’re not using apps allowed to access location data, this could indicate spyware is running and tracking your location.


In addition to checking location services, as explained above, it’s possible to see which apps have recently requested access to your location on modern versions of Android, making it easier to detect those that shouldn’t be. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app, then tap Privacy.
  2. Select Permissions used in last 24 hours.
  3. Tap Location.
Screenshots of an Android phone showing how to access the Permissions used in the last 24 hours, helping see whether you have hidden spy apps.

Here, you’ll see a list of all apps that have accessed your location in the last 24 hours. If you see any apps you don’t recognize, find out what they are and delete them as quickly as possible if necessary.

4. Keep an eye on Google Play Protect

Android’s built-in malware and virus scanner is turned on by default to secure your device, so if you didn’t disable this but find it’s turned off, it could mean somebody has installed hidden spyware on your phone. Here’s how to check your Play Protect settings:

  1. Open the Google Play Store app on your phone then select your account icon.
  2. Choose Play Protect.
  3. Tap the little Settings cog at the top right.
  4. Ensure the Scan apps with Play Protect feature is turned on.
Android screenshots showing how to open the Google Play Store and find the Play Protect settings in the instructions on how to find hidden apps on Android.
Step 1-2: Open Google Play Store and select Account Icon.
Screenshots of an Android device showing how to toggle on Scan apps with Play Protect to ensure there are no hidden spy apps on Android.
Steps 3-4: Select the Settings cog then toggle on Scan apps with Play Protect

On the Play Protect page, you can also Scan all apps to detect potential security threats and see which apps have recently been scanned automatically.

How to remove hidden spy apps on Android

Using a dedicated spy app finder to remove spyware from Android is often an easier and quicker solution compared to manually trawling through your phone for malicious apps. Clario Anti Spy not only searches your phone for spyware, it also quickly removes it, ensuring you’re protected.


To find and remove hidden spyware and to monitor for data breaches that may indicate a spyware attack, follow these steps:

  1. Download Clario AntiSpy for Android.
  2. Click Run a deep scan under Spyware scan.
  3. Follow the instructions and wait till Clario Anti Spy detects if you have hidden spy apps on your Android.
  4. In case you do, Clario Anti Spy will help you eliminate the threat and restore your privacy.
Run a deep antispy scan on your Android device with Clario Anti Spy to check if you have any hidden apps on your Android.

Clario Anti Spy gives you the support you need to keep your phone protected and free from spying apps. However, you can also take some steps to prevent a spyware infection, including only installing apps from trusted sources, avoiding malicious websites, and not letting others use your phone.


Although spyware attacks are a very real threat on Android devices, it’s not too difficult to stop someone from spying on your phone. By being aware of the signs that indicate your smartphone has been compromised and by taking the right steps to protect yourself, you can easily find and prevent spy apps.


Use Clario Anti Spy to find spyware on Android as quickly as possible and to remove it before it has a chance to do any harm. It’s easy to install and set up and incredibly effective at ensuring your smartphone remains free from spyware, trackers, and other common threats.

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