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Remote access toolkits (RATs), monitoring apps, child and employee surveillance software, or even tracking tools, mobile spy software goes by many names. Spy software is designed to run covertly on your phone, allowing a malicious user to read your messages, record your phone calls and even activate your microphone and camera.
Certain RATs (remote access toolkits) specifically designed for Android even come with built-in keyloggers and can screenshot each and every activity on your device. A range of different forms of spying software are available to anyone who decides to devote their time into peering into your business. Yet, despite the many ingenious ways that apps designed to spy on you can hide themselves, there are always traces.
Here we’ll be showing you all the tell-tale signs on how to tell if your cell phone is being tracked, tapped or monitored by spy software.
Enable Unknown Sources at Your Own Risk
Every app installed on your mobile needs to be digitally signed. Downloading third-party apps from sites other than an official app store (such as Google Play or Apple iStore) is extremely dangerous. Apps from unofficial sources will require you to manually enable a setting termed ‘Unknown Sources’ on your cell phone.
It is very rarely that infected software stands a chance of making its way onto official download repositories however enabled unknown sources is a sure-fire way to put yourself at risk. Apps without a digital certificate will always ask you to enable this setting. Even if you know the source it is best to find an official alternative rather than opening up this huge security hole on your device.
Beware of Escalating App Permissions
Whenever you install an app, make sure that you check which permissions it requires. If the app in question is asking for permission to be granted for the camera, video, accessibility features, messaging components, Wi-Fi, mobile data and more, chances are it’s going to be used to spy on you.
While many legitimate apps do require extensive permissions, barely any apps will ever need access to everything. Watch your app permissions especially, if you decided to take the risk and enable unknown sources to install something cracked, in beta, or otherwise unlisted from an app store.
Stay Alert of App Irregularities
If you suspect that you’re infected by spy software it could take some digging to confirm. Go through your installed apps and verify that each was either preloaded or installed willfully, it’s a good idea to compare the icons used by each. A great way to do this is to compare your installed apps to a similar matching phone, even if comparing with a device of the same Android or iOS version only.
Malware makers sometimes mimic frequently used components such as Google Update, Google Play Services, Facebook, Twitter and their dependencies but slight differences in the icon used and naming can give away the trojan. There is no ‘close enough.’ Every app will have an official name, icon and file size relative to its version. All of this information can be confirmed on official app stores if needed but usually a quick visual comparison of apps is all it takes to pick up intrusive software.
Battery Running Flat Too Quickly?
There are few apps which can run down a battery as quick as a tool designed to spy on you. With all of your background services logging what you’re doing your phone’s battery is sapped in no time. If you want to check whether your phone is being tracked by looking at the battery use, then head to your ‘Settings.’ Tap ‘Battery’ and look beneath the graph to see which apps are draining your battery the most.
Spy software will either be installed as a standalone app or bound to an existing application. If you notice any software draining far too much power then uninstall it, scan your phone for malware and then reinstall the app. In many cases, remote toolkits are integrated near seamlessly to things that you actually use.
Running Out of Storage Space and Data?
The data which is being stolen from your phone needs to be held in storage until it can be uploaded to a host for remote viewing. This translates to massive amounts of space being occupied by cellphone call recordings, message logs and screenshots of everything from your lock pattern to your WhatsApp conversations.
A single message store can take up a lot of space while any attacker downloading your gallery for their viewing pleasure will chew through tons of mobile or Wi-Fi data on your phone. As your info is downloaded, your device uploads.
Whenever you can’t explain where your data or storage space has disappeared to it is likely that your device has been compromised in some way. It may not always be remote surveillance software but it’s almost always malicious.
Operating Abnormalities – Screen Switching on For No Reason?
The resource load which a remote access toolkit pulls is huge. Your mobile device’s processor will be running at over 90% whenever you’re being spied on, while your available memory fluctuates between varying degrees of fullness as your personal data is being secretly saved somewhere on your phone.
There will always end up being a malfunction of sorts somewhere depending on your individual device, its configuration and the type of trojan used by your attacker. Any operating abnormalities such as your screen fluxing between on and off for no reason or your camera light enabling and disabling without being touched are all normally indications of being spied on.
Certain software begins with a limited capability requiring your interaction to enable components for more complete surveillance. Never enable anything on any screen which is opened automatically before you unless it is a part of an installation you are carrying out. Spy apps often flash accessibility features and other functions before the user, hoping to be allowed further access.
Whenever you notice your device operating strangely, it is best to perform a rough maintenance routine going through your apps for irregularities while checking your space, data and battery logs for anything that looks suspicious. Once compromised, all of your connected accounts and private information is openly available.