How to detect and remove spyware from your Android & iOS device

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How to detect and remove spyware from your Android & iOS device

Spywares are malware programs installed on your mobile device without your permission to monitor your activities and collect data from your phone without you knowing.

Also, Spyware can be installed on your mobile devices in two ways:

  • Remotely via links in emails and malicious sites.
  • Physically on your device by a third-party closer to you. E.g., your spouse, friends or Boss or colleagues at work

Spyware is used for any of the following reasons:

  • To collect and sell your data to digital marketers or marketing companies
  • By your Boss to watch your actions while at work
  • To track and monitor your activities online for marketing purposes
  • To steal bank information or other financial details from your device by hackers
  • By your spouse to track internet activities
  • By parents to monitor their wards’ activities

Upon installation, spyware gets permission to:

  • Record your calls
  • track your call history
  • have access to your Phone contacts
  • Collect your text messages
  • snoop on your Sent and received emails
  • follow and read your Chats via social media apps like Whatsapp and Facebook
  • Access your media files such as Photos and Videos
  • access your browsing history and Websites visited
  • Utilize your phone’s camera to monitor your environment

Common types of spyware

  1. Nuisanceware

These are potentially unwanted programs (PUP) installed along with legitimate free apps. Nuisanceware brings up regular and annoying pop-ups mostly adverts, collect your browsing data, and sometimes change your homepages settings

  • Stalkerware

Stalkerware is a type of spyware for stealing data like images, videos, SMS and MMS, monitoring and recording calls, etc.

How to detect spyware on your mobile devices

Sudden changes in your mobile devices give a high probability of the presence of spyware on your mobile device.

Here are three vital signs to watch out for on your mobile device

  • Unexpected shutdown or restart: if your phone shuts down and restarts by itself, it is a reliable indicator of the presence of spyware on your device.
  • Battery drains faster without increasing usage. If your battery drains more quickly without increasing usage, it probably is a result of spyware activities on your mobile device.
  • Overheating: when your phone feels warm in hand without excessive usage, it may be due to the activities of malware in the background.
  • Increased data usage: spyware needs to access your data to send collected information from your device and for other activities. Increasing data usage can be a crucial indicator of spyware activities on your mobile device. In some cases, you may not observe increasing data consumption quickly, but if you’re observant enough, you will be able to detect changes in data consumption.

Other signs to watch out for

  • Regular adware pop-ups: Regular ads pop-up can be a sign of spyware infection. You can tackle this easily by activating the ad-blocker on your browser.
  • Strange apps on your mobile device: this is a common symptom for android devices. If there are apps you do not remember downloading and installing on your mobile device, it could be spyware. You should uninstall such app(s) from your mobile device.
  • Regular app crashing: spyware on your mobile device can make your apps to crash regularly
  • Background noise during calls. Background noise may be due to network interference. But in some cases, it may be as a result of spyware listening to your phone conversation and also recording your calls. If you’re getting background noise during calls, you should take the extra step of verifying if it is as a result of network interference or spyware monitoring and recording your phone conversation.
  • When you receive unusual messages: in some instances, spyware use command features sent through text messages to configure your mobile device. In most cases, these text messages consist of more unusual symbols and number characters than regular text messages. It is advisable to delete such messages, although deleting it doesn’t necessarily remove the spyware from your mobile device.

How to remove spyware from Android device

Method 1: Download and install antivirus software on your android device

  • Visits Google Play Store to download and install antivirus software. Some common types of antivirus software you can choose from include; Avast Mobile Security, AVG, McAfee Security, Norton Security and antivirus, Avira antivirus, etc.
  • Launch the downloaded antivirus app and ‘Scan’ your device
  • Wait while the antivirus scans your android device for spyware and other malware.  
  • For some antivirus apps, the spyware is removed automatically, while in others, you will have to remove manually by tapping ‘Resolve’ or ‘Fix.’
  • The antivirus identifies the spyware on your android device and asks you to uninstall it.

Method 2: uninstall spyware manually

To uninstall spyware manually, do this:

  • Reboot your android device into ‘Safe mode’ by holding down the power button
  • Select ‘Safe mode’ or follow given instructions to boot your device into safe mode
  • Go to your device’s settings >> ‘Apps.’
  • Search through the list of apps for any suspicious apps you don’t seem to remember downloading
  • Tap on the app and select ‘Uninstall’ from its info page to uninstall the spyware app.
  • If you do not have the ‘Uninstall’ option, go to your phone’s security, still in settings
  • In the security section, search for device admin (device admin apps in later versions of Android)
  • ‘Deactivate’ or revoke admin access granted to the spyware

Method 3: Restore your device to factory settings

Restoring your device to factory settings should be your last option unless you’re prepared to lose all necessary data on your device. However, it is the most effective way of eliminating spyware from your device.

How to remove spyware from iPhone

Removing spyware from your iPhone by following any of these procedures:

Method 1: install an antispyware /antivirus program on your iPhone

Install and activate the antispyware program to scan and delete all spyware programs from your iPhone

Method 2: Update your iPhone to the latest iOS

If you a Cydia app on your iPhone (if it’s not jailbroken), you should update its iOS version to the latest version.

The latest version of iOS can eliminate spyware programs from your iPhone with recent bug fixes.

  • Go to your iPhone’s settings and tap on ‘General’ at the top left
  • Tap on ‘Software Update’
  • Read through and click on ‘Download and Install’ at the bottom of the page

Method 3: Restore your iPhone to factory settings

Restoring your phone to factory settings deletes all spyware programs from your iPhone. Before restoring your iPhone to its factory settings, be sure to back up your files and documents.

  • Go to your iPhone’s settings and tap on ‘General’ at the top left
  • Navigate and search for ‘Reset.’ Tap on ‘Erase All Contents and Settings’ to reset your iPhone.

How to prevent spyware on your mobile devices

  • You should be careful about the links you click on your email and the apps you give admin privilege to.
  • Use your device’s security features like password lock, fingerprint lock face detection, or other security features available on your device to protect your device from third-party access.
  • Make use of quality VPN service provider such as RitaVPN to anonymize your online activity.

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