Phone monitoring apps have often been marketed as tools to keep your children and families safe. They are, however, so commonly used by people to spy on their partners, it’s now often referred to as ‘stalkerware’ or ‘spouseware’. These apps are able to steal personal information, track your location and conversations, and transmit that data to another device without the victim’s knowledge.
As members of the Coalition Against Stalkerware, we are making it our mission along with other partners to promote mobile safety and address the growing problem of digital stalking. In this blog we will guide you through the steps you can take to identify stalkerware on Android devices, and how you can both remove it and safeguard against future incidents.
So let’s start with how you can find out if it is on your device.
One way to detect stalkerware is to keep an eye out for physical changes in the behaviour of your phone. Issues such as poor battery life, unexplained high data usage or taking longer to shut down can all be indications that your phone has stalkerware installed. However, there could be other reasons for poor performance, such as a technical fault or just an old device, so it is not a concrete method of detection.
Another way to find stalkerware is to check your device for apps that are using your location, microphone or camera. Spy apps will typically need access to things such as your microphone, camera or location in order to perform their function. Therefore, doing a quick review of the apps that have access to these features and only accepting those you recognize can be an easy way to reveal a spy app.
A third way is to check to see if your phone is rooted. People root their phones so that they can remove manufacturer restrictions. The advantage of this is that users have full access to the system directory. However this also allows potential hackers to gain access to areas of the phone that would normally be protected. Rooting a phone is a practice commonly used by hackers in order to install malware. It can be difficult to spot rooting but one thing to look out for is a strange app called “SuperUser” suddenly appearing on your home screen. There are also a number of free apps that will check to see if your phone is rooted.
It’s time to take security seriously
So, once you know you have stalkerware on your Android device, how can you remove it? And how can you make sure it doesn’t happen again?
1. Biometric technology
It is important to have a strong password to protect your phone but one of the most effective ways to keep your phone safe from hackers is to make use of its biometrics facility. As many stalkerware apps need physical access in order to be installed, biometric security such as a fingerprint scanner or facial recognition helps to protect you from hackers. Without access to the phone, the hacker cannot download the stalkerware to your device.
2. Ensure Play Protect is enabled
To protect your device, you should make sure that Google Play Protect is enabled on your phone. Play Protect scans apps for malware both before and after you download them. It also looks for harmful apps from other sources. This helps to protect your device from spyware and harmful apps that could have been downloaded by third parties.
3. Use intruder detection
Some apps for Android offer an intruder detection feature to catch snoopers who have physical access to your phone in the act. For example, they can detect when an incorrect PIN is entered and either take a secret photo of the intruder or sound an alarm to alert you. This feature, which is available in Certo Mobile Security, is especially useful to those concerned about stalkerware. Most stalkerware apps require physical access to the device to be installed and so this will give you the evidence you need to see if you have been hacked.
4. Use a good security app
We want to reiterate that whilst the above steps are good tactics to employ when protecting your device against stalkerware, they aren’t 100% effective. The best way to protect your Android phone is to download a phone security app such as Certo Mobile Security. A good mobile security app can help you block hackers from your phone and detect any malicious apps that may already be on there. Out of all of the steps, this is probably the easiest way to remove stalkerware on Android.
5. Factory reset
If you have tried other tactics and are still unsure whether you have removed stalkerware, the last resort would be to factory reset your device. This erases all data from your device, including any stalkerware that might have been present. However, make sure you backup any important data before doing so. To learn how to factory reset your Android device, click here.
Detect and reject stalkerware with Certo Mobile Security
The best way of finding stalkerware on an Android phone is to use a detection app such as Certo Mobile Security. Certo Mobile Security will scan your device and find out whether you have stalkerware installed. It features:
Spyware Scanner – Detect and remove malware spying on your device.
Privacy Protection – Identify apps that can track your location, monitor your calls and more.
System Adviser – Find and fix insecure system settings that put your device at risk.
Auto Scan – Never forget to run a scan, we’ll keep you protected automatically.
Intruder Detection – Catch someone trying to access your device and take a silent photo.
Breach Check – Find out if your accounts have been compromised in a data breach.
These features mean you can have peace of mind that you will be able to effectively find stalkerware on your device. With a dedicated security app you are able to quickly and easily identify spyware on your Android device with confidence. Download Certo Mobile Security for free from the Play Store today to remove any unwanted stalkerware and protect your phone from hackers.