Spying on someone’s phone is pretty common nowadays, considering the security situation, which means that the one spying will not be a scorned ex, rather a government official just doing his job. Either way, since we can’t avoid the first possibility either, you need to know when and what part of the phone is being used remotely by hackers or spies trying to dig into your data. And really, that’s not all. If you are an affluent businessperson, or a government official dealing in a lot of sensitive information, chances are, that NSA and your local creep aren’t the only one. Now, you’ve got international hackers and unscrupulous agents in the fray as well. So, this being your device, how can you actually detect if someone’s using your phone to spy on you and how can you stop it from happening? We take a look.

Be advised that when it comes to the government or intelligence agencies trying to build up a profile of your persona, there’s little you can do other than chuck your phone down a ravine and go live in a cave somewhere, because all technology that beeps and does stuff can be used to profile and spy on you. However, with the detection methods and some simple applications mentioned below, you can at least ensure that the local creep isn’t doing so.

How To Ascertain If Your Phone Is Being Used To Spy On You?

The following steps need not be for the very eagle-eyed only; these are common mobile phone behaviors and patterns that can seem out of place if your phone is being used to spy on you. These steps are really common but require a prior experience of phone behavior; your personal phone specifically. Considering that different usage causes the same models to behave differently, you need to compare and contrast these steps with your normal phone usage and behavior. If something is extra-ordinary and does seem to fall in the category of being used, it might be time for you to install some anti-spyware software on the phone.

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Here are some of the ways you can ascertain if your phone is being used to spy on you,

  • High Data Usage (more than normal):

    This is the most simple and easy way to determine whether your phone’s security has been compromised and some spyware has been installed in it. In order to relay back the information to the source, the spyware needs to send data via Wi-Fi or mobile data. And this gets easier if you are a habitual mobile data owner; if your usage as indicated by the mobile exceeds vastly than what your plan offers or you usually consume, there is a good chance that the extra data is being used by the spyware to relay back information to the source; but there are two different types of spyware that could leave a trace like this behind. 

Poorly-executed spyware uses a lot of data to relay back the information, while sophisticated, high-tech spyware use little data and may sometimes blend in data usage while other operations like Sync or downloads are being done. However, the diagnosis stays the same; 50, 100 or more MBs over the usual and there is a good chance your security has been compromised.

  • Weird / Unusual Noises During Calls:

    Routine calls, nowadays, are crisp and clear to hear considering the technology that’s behind them. You can test it for yourself; even in the most remote place with only a bar or two of signals, the call you make will be an audiophile’s dream. However, if you hear static, or faint voices or even unusual audio activity during a regular SIM-enabled call, it is likely that the line’s security has been compromised, and much like how every pop culture reference to it, has been tapped. It is very uncommon but isn’t out of the gate completely; it is still one of the most reliable ways of gathering information.

If you do regularly experience such issues, there is a good chance the line has been tapped and information is being passed on.

  • Difficulty / Delayed Shut Down Time:

    Shutting down a mobile phone causes all of the running applications to be suspended, only to be resumed when the user specifically chooses to do so. Since spyware isn’t anything like that, increased time taken by the phone to shut down or even the screen backlight remaining on despite shutting the phone down means an application is resisting shutdown of the system, which of course, is an application that isn’t there by your choice. The latter part is more dangerous and in a majority of cases, means the security has been compromised.

If you have noticed an increased time taken by the phone to shut down or if you shut it down and the screen remains backlit, 9 out of 10 times it is being caused by an app with malicious software or spyware in it. 

  • Battery Heats Up / Loses Charge Quickly:

    A battery is also one of the major components that can be used to determine whether a phone is safe or not (security-wise). Since only the stand-by consumes battery when the phone is locked and apps suspended, if the battery still drains quicker than usual or the phone (especially the battery) feels warm despite a period of non-usage, it might be an indicator of an application running and consuming battery without you knowing it; usually spyware.

If your battery does feel heated up despite not using the phone and drains quicker than usual, it might be time for some below-mentioned upgrades to the phone’s security.

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How to Search and Delete Such Spyware 

Searching and doing away with such spyware is not easy but can be done with a bit of ingenuity. Some of these steps listed below can help you get that spyware out of your device. 

  • Many unsophisticated spyware still have terms like trojan, track, spy or monitor in their file names. For Android, simply search for these keywords in App management in Settings and if anything pulls up that you don’t recognize, delete it.
  • Do a security scan using your phone’s in-built anti-virus.
  • Disable applications installed from ‘Unknown sources’ in Settings.
  • Finally, if all does not work, back up your data and factory reset the phone.