Is your phone being tracked or spied on? In today’s digital age, it’s easier than ever for someone to gain access to your phone and monitor your activity without your knowledge. This article will teach you how to spot the telltale signs that your Android or iPhone may be compromised and what you can do to protect your device.
Mobile phones contain a wealth of personal and sensitive information, making them a prime target for hackers, cyber criminals, and even overly intrusive partners or family members. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to detect phone tracking or spying and prevent unauthorized access to your device. Keep reading to learn the warning signs and best practices to keep your phone secure.
What Are Signs Your Phone Is Being Tracked or Monitored?
There are certain telltale signs that could mean your Android or iPhone is being tracked or monitored by spyware without your knowledge:
- Your phone suddenly uses excessive data, drains battery quickly, or runs slowly even when no apps are open. This could be a sign of monitoring software running in the background.
- You notice unfamiliar apps on your phone that you didn’t download yourself. A new app could be spyware installed to track you.
- Your phone overheats frequently, especially when making calls, charging, or using data. Excess heat may mean a tracking app is secretly active.
- Your browser history shows websites you didn’t visit or text messages you didn’t send. A hacker may have remote access to your device.
- Your phone bill shows SMS or calls you didn’t make. Some spy apps can initiate activity to cloak their data usage.
- You hear odd background noises or clicks during phone calls. A third party may be listening in.
- Your mobile data is always turned on, even when on WiFi. This allows a tracker to access your device’s geolocation.
- Your phone battery percentage drops quickly even in sleep mode. Constant background activity can drain the battery.
- Your mobile camera or microphone turns on unexpectedly. Malware may be monitoring you through these sensors.
If you notice any of these issues, it could mean your phone has been compromised by a tracking app or other invasive software designed to monitor you without consent.
How Spy Software and Tracking Apps Can Compromise Your Android Phone or iPhone
Spyware comes in many forms, but certain apps stand out as the most popular ways someone could secretly monitor your phone activities:
mSpy – A leading spy app that infects both Android and iPhone devices to log messages, calls, location and more. Hard to detect as it hides its icon.
Cocospy – An Android and iOS spy app marketed to monitor kids and employees that records messages, browsing history, geo-location and other sensitive data.
Spyzie – Spyzie infects both Android and iOS devices to extract information like messages, browsing history, social media activity, passwords and contact lists while hiding its presence.
Spyera – One of the most powerful Android and iPhone spy apps that takes remote control through features like remotely enabling a phone’s mic to eavesdrop on surroundings.
SpyBubble – Designed to monitor devices through features like location tracking, retrieving messages and emails, and monitoring app usage and phone calls.
These apps represent some of the top spyware threats targeting smartphones today. They are capable of covertly extracting huge amounts of personal data and tracking someone’s location without being detected. Taking precautions is crucial.
How to Check Your Phone for Spyware and Malware
If you suspect your phone may be infected with spyware, you’ll need to thoroughly check your device. Here are steps to detect monitoring apps and malware:
Check app permissions – Go to your phone’s app settings and look for any apps with suspicious permissions like access to your contacts, messages, camera, microphone, location and more. An unfamiliar app with extensive permissions could be spyware.
Scan with security software – Download a trusted security app like Norton Mobile Security for Android or Lookout for iPhone and run a thorough scan to check for viruses, malware and spyware. This can help uncover hidden threats.
Check app data usage – In your data usage settings, look for any apps using excessive amounts of mobile data when they shouldn’t be. A monitoring app could be silently sending your information.
Reset phone to factory settings – Back up your device and reset it to factory settings, which will uninstall any downloaded apps. Then carefully reinstall only apps you need to see if the issues persist.
Jailbreak check – Jailbreaking (iOS) and rooting (Android) makes your phone more vulnerable to spyware. Settings can indicate if your device was compromised in this way.
Being proactive and watchful for any suspicious activity is the best way to determine if your smartphone has been infected with spyware or other mobile threats. It’s better to check and be safe than sorry.
Is Your Phone Data Usage Spiking?
Excessive and abnormal data usage on your phone can also indicate spyware activity or a tracking app secretly running in the background. Here’s how to check:
- Review your monthly cellular data usage through your carrier, which may reveal spikes.
- In your phone settings, go to the data usage page to see if any apps are using more data than they reasonably should.
- Compare your data usage when on cellular vs WiFi. Spyware often waits until you’re not on WiFi to start sending your data over your cellular plan.
- Factory reset your phone, then carefully reinstall apps one by one, checking data usage as you go along. This can help pinpoint any problem app.
- Install a trusted security app that monitors data usage and alerts you to any suspicious spikes that could mean malware.
If you take these steps and find your data usage is suddenly and inexplicably spiking, it’s a strong sign your phone may be compromised by invasive software transmitting your personal information. Take action to get it removed.
Why Might Your Phone Be Overheating and Running Slow?
Is your phone constantly overheating? Does it lag and freeze up even when no apps are running? This could mean a tracking app or malware is overworking your device by design.
Some common reasons your smartphone may overheat and slow down include:
- Malware or a suspicious app running silently in the background – Constant background activity taxes your phone’s resources, causing overheating and slow performance.
- Phone is mining cryptocurrency without you knowing – Crypto mining malware uses your phone’s processor and can make it heat up quickly.
- You have too many apps open – Having many apps open and running simultaneously can overwork your phone, especially if they use GPS.
- Older phone with worn out battery – An aging lithium-ion battery may not hold charge well, causing it to get hot.
- Using phone while charging – Charging while using processor-intensive apps overheats some phones.
If your phone is hot and laggy even when you aren’t actively using it, it likely means unwanted software is secretly running in the background, such as spyware. Check your apps and scan for malware to isolate and remove any suspicious programs.
The Risks of Jailbreaking or Rooting Your Phone
Jailbreaking an iPhone and rooting an Android phone are processes that remove software restrictions, allowing you to install unauthorized apps and make deeper system changes. However, this also makes your device much more vulnerable.
Removing software locks also disables critical security protections that would normally keep your phone safe from malware and spyware. When jailbroken or rooted, even legitimate app downloads pose heightened risks, and you could unknowingly install invasive tracking software.
You can check if your phone was compromised in a few ways:
- iPhone – Go to Settings > General > About. If it says “Jailbroken” or if you have Cydia installed, your device was likely jailbroken.
- Android – Download an app like Root Checker to test for root access. Or in Settings look for Developer Options or check if you can uninstall core system apps.
To make a compromised phone secure again requires fully resetting it to factory condition to remove jailbreaking or rooting. Avoid these modding processes to keep your device’s defenses intact.
How to Prevent Your Phone From Being Tracked
If you want to proactively prevent spyware or tracking apps from monitoring your phone, there are steps you can take:
- Install anti-malware software from trusted brands like Norton or Lookout to block potential threats. Set it to actively scan your device routinely.
- Be vigilant about not downloading random apps outside of official app stores, as these pose hacking risks.
- Never jailbreak or root your phone, as this disables critical security protections.
- Set a passcode, fingerprint lock, or other secure screen lock to prevent physical access to your phone.
- Regularly delete apps you no longer use to minimize vulnerabilities.
- Keep your phone updated with the latest OS version and security patches.
- Avoid connecting to public WiFi networks when possible, as this exposes you to hackers.
- Use a VPN to encrypt your web traffic when on public networks.
- Turn off Bluetooth when not in use to prevent connections to your device.
- Disable options that allow your phone to be tracked like location services.
- Carefully review app permissions and don’t grant unnecessary access.
Following best practices for mobile security will proactively prevent your phone from being compromised by spyware or tracking tools. Be vigilant in protecting your device.
What If Your Phone Is Compromised? How to Reset It.
If you confirm your phone has been infected with spyware or compromised in another way, you’ll want to fully reset it to regain security and privacy:
- Back up your data – Copy any important data like contacts, photos, notes etc. to cloud storage or another device before resetting your phone.
- Erase content and settings – On an iPhone, go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. For Android, go to Settings > Backup & Reset > Factory Data Reset. This will wipe your phone.
- Only reinstall apps you need – Carefully redownload apps from official app stores and avoid any you don’t recognize or need to prevent reinfection.
- Install security software – Download trusted antivirus software immediately after resetting your phone to protect it going forward.
- Change all passwords – Once your phone is reset, ensure you change all saved passwords in case they were compromised previously.
Taking these steps to completely reset your smartphone to a clean state is the only way to fully remove spyware or malware and restore privacy if your phone was breached.
FAQ About Phone Tracking and Protection
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about smartphone security:
How can someone put tracking software on my phone?
A few ways someone could infect your phone with spyware without you knowing include: physically accessing your unlocked device to install an app; sending you an infected SMS message link which loads malware; exploiting a security flaw if your phone is jailbroken or rooted; or gaining access to your cloud account associated with the device.
What are signs my iPhone may be monitored?
Odd battery draining, overheating, abnormal slowness, or spikes in cellular data usage even on WiFi are all signs an iPhone could be compromised by a tracking app or malware. Jailbreaking also makes iPhones much more vulnerable to spyware.
Can someone read my text messages without accessing my phone?
Yes, through spyware installed on your device that covertly logs messages, a hacker can remotely read SMS texts, view call logs, track location, and more without needing physical access to the phone.
How can I check if unknown apps are draining my phone’s battery?
Go to Settings > Battery to view battery usage by app. Or install a battery monitor app. This can reveal any unfamiliar apps consuming excessive power in the background that could be spyware.
Is it possible to track a mobile phone when turned off?
No, a turned off phone cannot be tracked as it emits no signal and has no power. However, spyware can make it appear your phone is powered off when it is actually still on and tracking. A truly powered off phone cannot be tracked.
Key Takeaways to Protect Your Mobile Device Security and Privacy
- Watch for unusual battery draining, overheating, lagging, and unexplained high data usage or unauthorized activity as signs your phone may be compromised by malware or a tracking app.
- Routinely scan your phone with trusted antivirus software to check for spyware and other mobile threats. This can identify issues.
- Carefully check app permissions and delete any unfamiliar installed apps to remove potential spyware lurking on your device.
- Never jailbreak or root your phone, as this leaves your device much more prone to malware infections and unauthorized access.
- Follow data security best practices like avoiding public WiFi, encrypting your phone, and using secure passwords to minimize your risk exposure.
- If you confirm your phone is infected, fully reset it to factory conditions after backing up your data to wipe the device clean of malware.
With spyware and phone hacking threats on the rise, it’s important to keep a close eye on your mobile device’s performance for any red flags. Following the guidance in this article will help you spot the signs of a compromised smartphone and take action to secure it. Protecting your phone protects your data and privacy.