Spy apps are common applications used to either spy on children’s usage of their mobile phones, as tools used by suspicious family members to check their mates, or as tools by companies to make sure their employees are closely monitored.
Spy apps can be used in secret or openly, where a person knows their phone has a spy app. In fact, some users download a spy app on their phone deliberately, just in case its used by someone else to check what It has been used for and when.
A spy app is a common name for applications that perform a number of functions, these generally include a GPS location, a keyboard or text recorder, and a means to view text messages, phone calls, and app usage.
As a rule, spy apps are legal; however, if a spy app was downloaded and installed on the phone without the owner’s consent, then it is illegal. In fact, reading someone else’s email (and text messages) is a federal offense that comes with a 5-year prison sentence. That is if the mail or text message was not on the screen for all to see. In other words, if you have a spy app and someone planted it to read your mail and messages that is illegal.
Identifying a Spy App on your Device
Spy Apps should not actually affect your phone, but since there are many apps using different scripts, some apps will use up battery life and others will affect the speed of data transfer and keyboard functionality. As such, even if you don’t notice anything unusual, you can perform some basic system checks to see if your mobile device has a spy app running on it.
Spy apps are like any other app, as such, they appear in the list of apps that are installed on your device. If you don’t see such an app or anything that looks suspicious, such as an icon or an app you never use, check it out in the system settings.
Here is the list of possible signs of a spy app in your phone:
- New icons; if you see a new icon you didn’t download, check with whomever you live with if they added it. If not, then start by checking online what the app does, you can do that by going into the Google Play Store or iPhone App store and checking out the name of the app. If it is a spyware application, then delete it. Some apps might not have an icon, but you can see them on the list of apps on your phone in the system menu. If you see an app there that you never use or never downloaded it, delete it.
- Battery draining faster than before is a sign of an app working overtime, and if you didn’t make any system changes or downloaded a new app, then something is using up that energy. You can check to see which app is using the energy by going into the system resources menu and looking at what apps are operational. If you see one that is new and is not a system upgrade, check to be sure it’s not a system app that might be malfunctioning before you delete it.
- Some spyware sends text messages to the phone to test communications. If you are getting weird messages, check your system for an unwanted app.
- The phone is overheating more than usual. This, like battery usage, is a sign that an app is constantly working and your electronics are overheating due to the constant workload. Check the system resources to see which app is constantly running.
- Data usage spikes are another source of worry, and even when you do use your phone for social media and video, sometimes you get an angry data spike. This infrequent occurrence, when it happens more frequently, is a sign of an app using the internet.
- If your device starts to malfunction, it could be due to spyware. Check for the spy app before you take it into service.
- White noise or clicking when making phone calls can be a sure sign of wiretapping or internal recording. If for some reason you start to hear such noises, check for a spyware app.
- Inconsistent shutdowns are a sign of monitoring, and when this happens, you want to check your phone immediately.
- Unusual browser history can be a sign of tampering, and as such, is something you need to consider. Check the browser history for unusual activity.
- Sometimes, people that have hacked your hope, or planted a spyware app on it will suddenly act differently around you. If you suspect their actions are different, don’t go all paranoid. Just check your phone.
Removing Spy Apps
There are a number of ways to remove hacked and spyware active phones, and these range from the simple to drastic.
The easiest way is to check your device for unwanted apps and deleting them. After this, you can try to update your operating system with a new version, although this only works if you are using an old version and the spyware doesn’t work with the new upgrade. The more drastic approaches are performing a factory reset, which requires you have a full back up since a reset literally resets your device erasing all data and apps and giving a device that is identical to a factory bought model.
Securing Your Phone
There are a number of options to secure your phone from tampering, these start with the basic password activated entry point to fingerprint activation. You can also make your phone invisible and close Bluetooth and wifi access unless you really need them.
You can download an anti-spyware app that will check your phone and detect as well as delete spy apps.
For password security, frequently change your password, and make it a very strong multi-variable string. Also, don’t download from unknown sources, only from the official Google or iPhone stores.
You can also limit the permissions that you grant to apps, and make sure that most apps do not run in the background, as well as remove notifications for apps you rarely use.