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How to Find Hidden Spyware on Android

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Countless forms of software are designed to spy on your cell phone and all their connected operations are readily available across the internet. Both ‘legitimate’ and illegal tools are easily available to anyone with the intent and drive to spy on you. The earlier your Android version, the more susceptible your device is to infection.

Malicious software preys on latent problems within your OS, exploiting bugs in order to silently give control of your device over to the attacker. Spyware is designed to run silently but silent operation on Android always leaves a trace. There is no way to hide the remote access toolkit completely. Here we’ll be showing you how to find hidden spyware on Android. Once you learn where infections are hidden you’ll be less likely to allow anything harmful to be installed.

How to Find Hidden Spyware on Android

Check your battery use

Most good silent spyware apps will bind to existing programs installed on your Android and operate without you even knowing. Your device’s performance is always impacted, and the battery use of the infected app will increase. A sluggish phone or tablet for no apparent reason is often the first sign of being spied on.

To kick off the diagnosis head to your ‘Settings’ then tap ‘Battery’ and look beneath the graph for a list of your apps and their power consumption. If you find an app but aren’t certain of its consumption then it’s generally best to uninstall it, scan your phone for malware, and then reinstall the app.

Check your background apps

Silent operation in most remote access toolkits is restricted to the malware running in the background without an icon present on your device’s desktop. You can normally still find the spyware running as an app in the background. Navigate to your ‘Settings’ then tap ‘Apps’. Open the context menu for this screen and enable ‘Show all hidden apps.’ Find the filter called ‘Background’ and browse through the apps which are running.

Make sure that the apps listed are apps which either came preloaded on your device or were installed by you. If you are unsure about any given application, then tap the app to open its info. Safe apps will typically allow you to forcibly stop their operation. Any app which you can’t manually stop is normally malicious and needs to be removed.

Commonly Used Spyware

The names, signatures and behavior of malware are forever changing. However, there are a few prominent spy software packages available which are typically used to monitor most devices. Here are the names of some commonly used apps. If you find any of these installed remove them immediately:

  • Revcode
  • WebMonitor
  • Omni
  • mSpy
  • FlexiSpy
  • SpyNote
  • Droidjack
  • Netwire
  • TheTruthSpy
  • XnSpy

Other Signs of a Compromised Device

Almost all of the symptoms arising from spyware occur due to the high resource usage of logging every component of your phone or tablet. Here’s a brief list of what to look for.

  • Battery running excessively hot
  • Wi-Fi or mobile data switching on without reason
  • Screen switching on and off intermittently
  • Camera light switching on and off intermittently
  • Random shutdown or restart
  • Strange background sounds
  • Storage space filling rapidly
  • Excessive spiking data use
  • Ads displayed intermittently in irregular places

Removing Hidden Spyware on Android

The first thing that you need to do is uninstall any infected applications or applications which are serving as a host for a malicious user. Head to ‘Settings’ then ‘Apps’ and uninstall any applications identified as malicious or any apps which you are unsure about. You can always reinstall them from an official source to guarantee that they are free from any hidden malware.

Free Spyware Removal on Android

Any good malware removal tool will generally get rid of any traces of spyware which may be present on your phone. While spyware in the conventional sense does not exist for Android, malicious tools instead come in the form of standard apps and are at times bound to legitimate apps which you use.

Attackers often compromise mobile devices adding them to a botnet which is then used to carry out commands in bulk, such as downloading files or visiting websites. Malware on mobile devices does not exist in the same way that it does on desktop and other platforms. The only malicious software on your device will be installed as an app, nonetheless, software does make detection of spy programs fairly automatic. Give these a try:

  • Avast Mobile Security
  • Bitdefender Antivirus Free
  • Kaspersky Internet Security
  • Sophos Mobile Security
  • DFNDR Security
  • Security Master

Factory Reset

Some malware will wreak havoc on your operating system damaging your phone so much that it becomes a pain to use. If you’ve removed all traces of spyware and are still not happy with the performance of your phone, then the only way to restore your device to tip-top performance is to do a factory reset. Always make sure that you’ve backed up all of your apps and data. Make use of a password management app or synchronize your logins and settings with an online service. Once you’re backed up and ready here’s how to factory reset your Android:

  • Press and hold the power button, the ‘Volume Up’ Key and the ‘Home’ button in the center of your screen until a recovery boot starts
  • Select ‘Wipe Data / Factory Reset’
  • Confirm ‘Yes – delete all user data’

Stay Safe, Stay Clean

All it takes to see how active the hacking community is regarding mobile exploits is a visit to HackForums, Nulled.to or any other established underground message board. You can even hire someone to spy for you. Google ‘Spy Software for Android’ and you’ll be just as shocked. It should be clear that between the ‘legal’ monitoring software and the less-than-legitimate offerings, spyware on Android is a problem which you should protect yourself against.

Don’t enable unknown sources. Don’t root your device unless you know what you are doing and absolutely have to. Don’t ignore malicious file warnings. Android doesn’t really give false positives. Never hand your device to a stranger and keep your Google Account safe. With it alone an attacker can gain complete access to your device.

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