Warning signs your smartphone has been infected with spyware

How to avoid it & how to remove it, if it’s too late

There has been an explosion of malicious spyware infiltrating phones through apps and links. These can steal your banking and other personal information. Here are some warning signs that your phone is infected.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – During the last few years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of malicious spyware and stalkerware infiltrating our phones through apps and links. It seems it has become easier for hackers to access your phone as these spying apps are harder to detect.

Cyber security experts from VPNOverview reveal the top 10 warning signs that could indicate that hackers are using your phone to spy on you.

Slow performance

A possible indication of spyware operating on your phone is constant slowing down or lagging.

The slow performance of your phone could result from the resource-intensive spyware constantly running in the background, uploading your data, photos, and documents to an external server.

Make sure this isn’t happening by checking your phone for any unfamiliar apps and scanning any hidden apps using an antivirus program. Deleting these may improve the performance of your device.

Random reboots

Is your phone rebooting itself without your authorization? This can indicate that someone has remote, administrator-level access to your phone.

The hacker can do whatever they want with your device if this is the case.

To rule out the presence of spyware, you can update your phone’s operating system, and delete any malfunctioning apps.

If neither of these solutions solves the random reboots, you may have spyware on your phone.

Strange text messages

Hackers can use text messages to take a screenshot, detect your location or even gain control of your phone.

You should be not only vigilant of incoming texts but also outgoing texts as a hacker can send text messages from your phone to communicate with their own server.

Any message that looks unfamiliar, sounds like gibberish or appears outright strange should be ignored.

This is especially the case for unfamiliar texts containing links; these links can allow a hacker access to your phone if clicked on.

Overheating

An overheating phone can indicate that a malicious app is running in the background, especially if the overheating occurs when the phone is on standby.

You can rule out the threat of spyware by first checking that your phone doesn’t have a hardware issue or checking that the apps you have installed are not large resource consumers.

You can go into your phone’s settings and check your app list to see which apps use the most resources; apps are usually presented in order of most resource use.

Some apps will have legitimate reasons for taking up energy on your phone, but any that use more than they should could be the culprit and should be deleted.

Unusually high data usage

A hacker’s primary goal is to harvest your data, to sell it to the black market or use it to blackmail you. To gather this information, a hacker will remotely access your phone and transfer your files to their server, which requires data usage on your end.

Therefore, if your cellular data usage seems unusually high, this could indicate that something suspicious is going on with your phone.

It is a good idea to keep track of your monthly data use to identify any unexpected spikes.

Unfamiliar apps in your app list

Some viruses and spyware are cleverly hidden among your legitimate apps.

It is good practice to regularly go through your installed apps and check for any apps you do not recognize or don’t know how they function.

Uninstall these apps by going to the settings on your phone and locating your apps list.

Battery draining fast

Your phone’s battery life can be affected by two things: age, causing it to malfunction, or your phone is using a lot of resources that require a lot of energy. In the latter case, this could be caused by a legitimate app consuming too many resources or something more sinister, like spyware.

To rule out the possibility of a hacker spying on your phone, you can replace your phone battery by a suitable technician or by yourself if possible.

If your battery life hasn’t improved, this could be due to spyware executing various tasks on your phone.

Taking a long time to shut down

If your phone takes a long time to shut down, it may be infected with spyware.

This is because spyware tends to run constantly in the background transmitting your data to third parties, and your phone will be trying to close down all of these hidden programs before it can shut down.

Weird sounds during phone calls

Phone tapping is perhaps one of the most well-known indicators that your phone is being monitored as many movies and TV shows portray this form of hacking.

Spyware can be used to eavesdrop on your phone calls, and it frequently makes beeping and flashing sounds while doing so.

These sounds should not be dismissed as they could be a warning sign of spyware.

Signs of activity in standby mode

Suppose your phone begins to light up or make unusual noises when in standby mode; your phone could be infected with spyware.

If these noises and flashing lights are not due to notifications of calls, texts, emails, or any other familiar activity, you should check to see if there are any legitimate apps that are malfunctioning or restart your phone.

How do I remove spyware from my phone?

  • Deinstall apps that you suspect to be spyware
  • Use a good antivirus program for smartphones: this will thoroughly scan your phone for hidden spyware apps
  • Do a full phone reset to factory settings: this will remove any third-party apps from your phone. Make sure to back up any important files if you decide to take this action so you don’t lose important information or photos.

How do I avoid spyware from infecting my phone?

  • Don’t click on any suspicious links
  • Only download apps from official app stores
  • Restrict app permissions where possible
  • Don’t trust strangers with your phone
  • Use a VPN to protect your online presence
  • Keep track of unfamiliar apps and delete them immediately
If you don't protect your home Wi-Fi, someone else could be stealing it and taking advantage of a service you pay for.

About the Author:

Jennifer, who anchors The Morning Shows and is part of the I-TEAM, loves working in her hometown of Jacksonville.