If someone gets physical access to your phone, they can install spyware. This software can monitor various actions and programs. Just some things spyware can give access to include texts, call history, emails, photos, and more. Naturally, you want to remove spyware from your phone when you notice it. Developers of spyware make it hard to spot and remove, but it is still possible.
Try an Update First
Your first course of action should be to try updating your phone’s operating system. Most of the times, the latest operating system will be able to detect the most advanced spyware of the moment. This means that an updated phone should be able to detect spyware. It may even be able to stop or remove it. While this is not a guaranteed solution, it is very simple and will typically preserve your data. You should find any available updates in your phone’s settings.
The Simple but Time-Consuming Route: Factory Reset
The most effective and perhaps simplest method of removing spyware is to factory reset your phone. You can do this on either an Android or iPhone with ease. The option should be right in your settings. Just keep in mind that a factory reset clears all your data and removes all of your apps. Because of this, you likely want a backup before taking this step.
Find and Delete the Spyware
If an update doesn’t work and you want to avoid a factory reset, look for the spyware and manually delete it. This will be tedious since you have to go through all the applications on your device. Go to your settings and look at the installed applications. Check for anything you do not recognize or something that seems suspicious.
Most spyware applications will disguise themselves as something else, making this more challenging. Most commonly, they will appear as a seemingly-essential system. mSpy, for example, appears as “Update Service.” If you do not recognize one of the programs on your phone, Google it to see if it is Spyware.
Specific Removal Instructions for Android
On an Android device, you can follow these steps to find and remove spyware. Go to your settings and then “Additional Settings.” Select “Application Management.” This is where you will find a list of your applications. Look for suspicious files or those you do not recognize. Some search terms to consider include “trojan,” “track,” “stealth,” “monitor,” or “spy.” If you find a file, delete it.
As mentioned, if you notice a suspicious file, look online to see if it is spyware. Alternatively, you could block any unverified apps, meaning those Google Play Store has not verified. This is also in “Settings”, then “Additional Settings.” Click on “Safety and Privacy.” Go to the “Unknown Sources” box and uncheck it. This method will likely only block poorer-quality spyware, but at least it does something.
Specific Removal Instructions for iPhone
Apple makes navigating files in your phone much more complicated. As such, this is not necessarily feasible without bringing your iPhone to Apple Support. Instead, iPhone users should rely on other methods. The best is updating your operating system. You can also prevent the installation of spyware programs from the iTunes store with a secure iCloud password.
There are also many programs available that detect, prevent, and/or remove spyware. This is a natural result of the availability of spyware. Do some research and see which tool you want to install. Just be sure to select a reputable one. Otherwise, you may accidentally install spyware on your own phone. Or you could accidentally give cybercriminals access to your information.
Bring It to a Pro
Another effective method to remove spyware is to let the professionals handle it. See if your phone network provider or cell phone manufacturer has an in-person service center. Make an appointment and they should be able to find and remove any spyware for you.
What About Preventing Spyware?
While removing spyware is good, it is better if you can prevent it. Start by regularly changing your passwords. Additionally, use unique passwords for each account you have. Make sure those passwords are strong. You can also use encryption tools for files and general phone storage. This not only protects against spyware but also against file theft from stolen or lost phones.
As mentioned, install an anti-spyware tool. You should also install an anti-malware tool to stop other malware. Many tools perform both of these protective functions. You should also ensure that you only download and install applications from sources you trust. When installing applications, only grant permissions that make sense. You should also confirm regularly that apps do not have permissions they should not.
Finding spyware on your phone means that someone physically installed it there. All current spyware requires physical installation so keeping your phone secure at all times can prevent it. If you think your phone has spyware, there are various solutions, from deleting the files to a factory reset.