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Topic Malware Threats

Is Someone Spying on my Phone?

If you don't follow good security practices, your phone could be vulnerable to hacking, spying, and other attacks. Fortunately, several steps can help you know if someone is using your phone to spy on you. Once you've confirmed foul play, you can take action to remove any malicious software from your device. If you'd prefer to prevent a spying attempt before it happens, Clario's security app includes a spy software detector for Android.

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  1. How to know if someone is spying on your phone?
  2. Solution: remove spy software from your phone
  3. Can someone watch you through your phone?
  4. Can someone mirror my phone and see what I'm doing?
  5. How to protect my phone from spying?
  6. Why would someone spy on your phone?

How to know if someone is spying on your phone?

If someone is spying on you through your phone, several signs will let you know. Once you understand what to look for, you can monitor your device for any indications of unauthorized access or secretly installed spy software. Telltale signs that someone is spying on your Android or Apple phone are:

  • High data usage
  • Poor battery life
  • Slow performance
  • Unexplained activity when device is on standby
  • High temperature when not in use
  • Strange sounds during a call

High data usage can occur when your device is sending a lot of information to an unauthorized source. For example, if someone is watching you through your phone's camera, sending or streaming the video will require a large amount of data. Audio, images, and other pieces of information will also have a notable impact when transferred from your device to one held by a spy.

 

Therefore, monitoring data usage is crucial to understanding what's happening on your phone. Fortunately, Android and iOS devices allow you to access useful statistics to assist with your investigation.  

Here's how to check data usage on an Android phone:

1. Go to Settings > Connections > Data usage

Android Settings data usage screen.

2. Tap either Mobile data usage or Wi-Fi data usage

 

3. Scroll through the apps list to see if any applications are using a suspicious amount of data

Android Settings mobile data usage screen.

4. Tap the current date range and select a previous period to compare

Android Settings mobile data usage with period selection box showing.

Apple includes a similar feature in iOS. Here's how to check data usage on an iPhone:

  1. Go to Settings > Cellular or Settings > Mobile Data
  2. Check which apps are using an unexpectedly high amount of data
  3. Scroll down and tap System Services to see which iOS components are using a large amount of data

If you're unable to discern whether or not usage is high for a particular app, you can tap Reset Statistics to clear the current stats and start fresh. Doing so allows you to monitor exactly how much data an application is using from the time you perform the reset. If an app or system service seems overactive when not in use, someone may be using it to spy on you through your phone.

 

High data usage doesn't automatically mean that someone has hacked your phone. More innocuous issues can cause similar symptoms. However, if a particular app shows a spike in data usage at around the same time you suspect someone began spying on you, you may have identified a potential problem.

 

Poor battery life is another indicator that someone may be remotely accessing your phone. Sending large amounts of data from your device to a potential spy is going to use a lot of power, and you can view some energy consumption statistics on Android and Apple phones.

Here's how to check battery usage stats on an Android device:

  1. Go to Settings > Battery and device care > Battery
  2. Swipe left on the Usage since last full charge chart
  3. Examine the Last 7 days stats to identify any anomalies

If you see a big spike in battery use at around the time you suspect someone infiltrated your device, you may have further proof that someone is spying on you. However, energy consumption could increase for other reasons. For example, if you're using your phone more often or running power-hungry apps, your battery will drain quicker.

 

You can find similar statistics on an iOS device. Here's how to check battery usage on an iPhone:

  1. Go to Settings > Battery
  2. Tap Last 10 Days
  3. Tap any columns for days with high usage and examine which apps are consuming the most power

 

If an application you don't use or recognize is draining your battery, you may have identified a piece of spy software. You should always investigate any suspicious apps further.

 

Slow performance can indicate a compromised device. Software used to watch or record you through your phone will use a lot of resources, which can slow down your entire system. With that said, older devices or those overloaded with applications can also have performance issues, so you should obtain every piece of the puzzle before jumping to any conclusions.

 

Unexplained activity when a device is in standby mode could be another indicator that someone is using your phone to spy. Granted, certain notifications will light up your screen. However, activity that occurs for no apparent reason is cause for further investigation. If no alerts are present when your display lights up, something else must be waking your phone.

 

A device that runs at a high temperature when not in use is suspicious and may indicate spy software running in the background. Occasionally, software updates may start without your knowledge and generate some heat, but this shouldn't occur frequently. Also, charging your device will raise its temperature, but, overall, an idle phone shouldn't generate a notable amount of heat.

 

Strange sounds during a call may indicate that someone has tapped your phone. With that said, a bad line can cause all manner of odd things to happen, but consistently suspicious sounds when you're on a call could be a sign of something more sinister.

 

Evidently, all of the symptoms of someone spying on your phone could stem from other causes. Ideally, you should examine every piece of the puzzle to form a clear picture.  

How to stop someone from spying on my phone

If you do believe that someone is spying on you through your phone, you should remove whatever software they're using against you and contact law enforcement if you believe you're in danger. Fortunately, ridding your Android or iOS device of unwanted applications is easy.

Remove spy software from an Android device

Using Clario's Spyware detector tool is one of the quickest and most effective ways to remove spy software from your Android device:

  1. Install and launch Clario for Android
  2. Sign in or create an account
  3. Tap Device
  4. Tap Start Scan in the Spyware detector panel to check your phone for malicious software
  5. Let the scan complete and remove any threats if found
Download and install Clario

Clario performs a thorough scan to detect and remove any spy software on your device. Ideally, you should always have a good security app installed when using an Android phone, as the operating system (OS) isn't immune to infection.

Remove spy software from an iOS device

Apple's iOS software is locked down tight, and you can't install applications outside of the App Store. This makes inadvertently downloading malicious software difficult. However, sometimes vulnerabilities do arise, but Apple is generally quick to fix them.

 

Therefore, keeping your software up-to-date is one of the best ways to avoid someone using your iOS device to spy on you. Here's how you check for software updates on your iPhone:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Software Update
  2. Tap Install Now or Download and Install if an update is available

As long as you don't jailbreak your phone, Apple's software updates are often adequate to protect your device. However, some sanctioned applications on the App Store have spying capabilities. Spy apps include:

  • mSpy
  • iKeyMonitor
  • SPYERA
  • FlexiSpy

Most of the spy apps available on the App Store are designed for parents who want to monitor their kids' activities. But, as with any piece of technology, people can always choose to misuse it.

 

To install spy software on your iPhone, the person doing so would need to know your device passcode and Apple ID password. If you do find any suspicious applications on your phone, you should remove them immediately and change your login credentials.

Factory reset your phone

As a last resort, you can choose to factory reset your phone. In most cases, however, such a drastic action isn't necessary. If you do decide to erase the contents of your device, you should first backup any important data.

 

Here's how to factory reset an Android phone:

  1. Go to Settings > General management > Reset
  2. Tap Factory data reset
  3. Tap Reset and enter your passcode if prompted

Here's how to factory reset an iPhone:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Transfer or Reset iPhone
  2. Tap Erase All Content and Settings
  3. Confirm and enter your passcode if prompted

Can someone watch you through your phone?

With the right motivation, access, and software, anyone, including hackers, police officers, and government agents, could watch you through your phone.

 

The Guardian reports an instance where a documentary filmmaker installed spy software on a phone and let someone steal it. The original owner then spied on the thief, watching through the device's camera and listening with the microphone.

 

The hard part for hackers is getting the spy software on your phone. But, as the Guardian story states, spies can use one of many avenues to infiltrate your device, including compromised apps, PDF files, and emojis. Even without a hack involved, some people believe their phones listen to their private conversations.

 

USA Today reports that at least 25 police departments in the United States have access to a Stingray, a device that acts as a fake cell tower and tricks nearby phones into connecting to it. Police can then surveil anyone caught in the trap. If law enforcement or a government agency feels the need to spy on you, they'll undoubtedly use every tool at their disposal.

Can someone mirror my phone and see what I'm doing?

Technically, screen sharing software does exist for Android and iOS devices, but you'll need to grant permission before any mirroring occurs. Also, most applications of this type make it fairly obvious when you're sharing your screen.

 

Seeing exactly what you're doing on your phone may not be worth the extra effort for hackers, as they can learn a lot simply by accessing your camera, microphone, or other stored data on your device. We're not saying that covert mirroring never happens, but few if any reports of such an occurrence exist.

How to protect my phone from spying?

You can avoid having someone use your phone to spy on you by following good security practices:

  • Always keep software up-to-date
  • Never open any suspicious emails or links
  • Don't download unknown applications
  • Use strong passwords that only you know
  • Install a good security application

Clario's security app provides an extra layer of protection against spy software and other attacks. You can take advantage of a 7-day free trial to secure your phone and protect your device from hackers and other malicious operators.

Why would someone spy on your phone?

Stalkers, fraudsters, law enforcement, and government agencies all have reasons to use your phone to spy on you. Our devices carry a lot of private data, and we take them with us wherever we go, which makes them worthy targets.

 

But if you follow good security practices, the chances of you falling victim to a spying operation are minimal. If someone does want to spy on you, you shouldn't make it easy for them.

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