Are you worried that someone is spying on your cell phone? Nowadays, it’s possible for almost anyone to hack your phone if they have the right tools. Not only has it become a lot cheaper in recent years, but it has also become much less complicated. Because of that, we have created this easy to follow 10 step how-to guide to help you protect yourself from someone hacking your cell phone and spying on you.
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1. Change your passcode.
It may surprise you, but phone spying is far more likely to be carried out by the people closest to us rather than some anonymous hacker. In many cases, those people know the victim’s phone passcode and this is how they gain access to the device. Telling someone your passcode leaves you almost completely vulnerable to cell phone spying.
Changing your passcode will prevent anyone else from looking through your phone and makes it harder for them to install a spy app that secretly steals your passwords, chat history, emails, pictures and videos, etc.
When you change your passcode, ensure that you choose a strong passcode with at least 6 characters. Don’t use something that would be easy for someone who knows you to guess (your date of birth, for example) or something that anyone could guess (123456, etc). If available, use biometric features such as fingerprints and face ID.
2. Restart your phone.
This sounds so incredibly simple that it doesn’t seem like it would do anything. But it’s not uncommon for our phones to constantly be on. We charge them overnight, or sometimes even keep them charging most of the day whilst they are on our desk or in our car.
Many spy apps rely on phones being left switched on for long periods of time. In many cases, by simply restarting your device, you can stop the app from spying on your device and then follow the other steps here to completely prevent it happening again.
3. Update your device and apps.
Another simple thing you can do is to update your device with the latest software. Manufacturers (Apple, Samsung, etc) regularly release new updates to help protect against newly-developed spy software and hacking methods.
Some methods of cell phone hacking also rely on an older version of the manufacturer software being installed in order to bypass the in-built security.
The same goes for installed apps – make sure you also keep them up to date.
Note: An added benefit of keeping your Apple device updated is that the act of installing a new iOS update will ‘break’ most spy apps and stop them from collecting any further data from your device.
4. Scan your device for spyware.
The best thing you can do if you are worried about someone spying on your cell phone is to perform a scan of it. This will highlight any spying software that has been installed onto the device, along with any other areas of weakness in your phone’s security.
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5. Check if Google Maps or Apple ‘Find My (iPhone, iPad, iPod)’ is sharing your location.
Most people don’t realize that actually, a hacker doesn’t need to install anything in order to track someone’s location. Pre-installed apps, such as Google Maps and Apple’s Find My, have the ability to share the user’s location with another phone with just a tap of a button.
You can check if location sharing is turned on in either of these apps as follows:
How to stop sharing your location in Google Maps:
- On your device, open the Google Maps app.
- Tap the Account Circle in the top right.
- Tap Location sharing.
- Remove any accounts you are sharing your location with.
How to stop sharing your location in Find My (iPhone/iPad/iPod):
- On your device, open the Find My app.
- Tap Me.
- Turn off Share My Location.
These are just two examples of apps that allow location sharing, but be vigilant and check your device for any app that could allow your location to be shared unwittingly with a third party.
6. Check the logged in account in Google Chrome.
Another trick that some snoopers use is to change the account that is being used for the Google Chrome browser app. If they change it to an account they control, this will allow them to track all of your internet browsing history, along with any usernames and passwords that you save in the app.
To check your logged in account:
- On your device, open the Google Chrome app
- Tap the 3 dots in the top right corner
- Tap ‘Settings’
- Under ‘Account’, you should be able to see the email address that’s logged in.
- If it’s incorrect, tap on the email address then tap ‘sign out and turn off sync’.
- After you’ve done this, you should change the passwords for your important accounts.
7. Check your device for apps that are using your location, microphone or camera.
Many spy apps will not only collect data from your device, but can also give the hacker access to the GPS location, microphone and even the cameras.
Both Certo AntiSpy (iOS) and Certo Mobile Security (Android) will be able to tell you exactly which apps are using these features and will allow you to easily spot any suspicious looking apps which could be spying on you.
Or if you want to manually check yourself then you can do this by reviewing the privacy/permission options in the Settings app on most phones.
8. Use a VPN.
Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) will encrypt all traffic between your phone and any online resource that it’s accessing. Whether that be your email account, social media or a website you’re visiting.
Use a reputable VPN with your device to ensure that someone can’t eavesdrop on your online activity.
However, a VPN doesn’t automatically give you complete protection, but should form part of an overall security plan.
9. Two Factor authentication.
Instead of hacking your actual device, hackers will sometimes target the accounts associated with it. For example, unauthorized access to an Apple iCloud account might give a hacker the ability to download a complete backup of your phone.
This would give them access to all kinds of your private data. The same goes for Google accounts.
To prevent this from happening, developers have created a function called ‘Two-factor authentication’. Put simply, this means that in order to log in to your account, a hacker would need a special code sent to you by text in addition to your password.
So even if they knew your username and password and were trying to log in from another device, they wouldn’t be able to do so because they wouldn’t have that code.
10. Factory reset your phone.
This is a last resort that should only really be used if nothing else works. This method will completely erase all data from your phone and will return it to the state it was in when you first opened the box.
This will also wipe your personal data too, so make sure you back up any contacts, photos, videos, etc that you want to keep.
To learn how to factory reset your Android device, click here.
To learn how to factory reset your Apple iOS device, click here.
Hopefully this was helpful for you. If you are suspicious that your phone may have been hacked, it’s likely that this is a crime. You should report it to the police and follow their guidance on what to do next.
If you suspect you know the person who is spying on your phone then think carefully before confronting them and never do anything that could put you in danger. Remember, always stay safe.