We all know that Big Brother keeps an eye on us. But did you know that he uses your phone to do so?
The smartphone industry has grown exponentially over the last few decades. Today, it is impossible to complete any task without one. Whether it is sending an email or making plans with a friend, using a phone is the easiest way to do it.
Given this extreme dependence, we input all our data into our phones. Our calendars keep track of meetings, digital notepads store passwords, and health applications have access to real-time locations.
Logically, therefore, the easiest way to gather information on anyone is by tracking their phone.
The worst part is, you don’t need to be a notorious criminal or dirty politician to warrant such violations of your privacy. Cybercriminals, data miners, and ad agencies often target everyday Joes. And so it is vital that everyone masters how to know your phone is tracked.
How do I know if someone is tracking my phone?
Tracking a phone doesn’t always require specialized knowledge. There are applications that do most of the work for hackers. All they need to do is download it on the intended victim’s phone. The same applies to viruses sent via ads on web pages.
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Even so, the backend is complex. These cyberattacks are configured in a way that often goes unnoticed. Red flags like a battery getting discharged faster than unusual are brushed under the rug as software malfunctions. And this is very dangerous.
We’ve compiled a list of nine seemingly harmless signs that someone is tracking your phone. In isolation, they’re not an issue. But if you see them all together, it means that your privacy has been compromised.
Decreased battery capacity
If your battery is suddenly taking more power to carry out the same tasks you typically use it for, it may be a sign that there is a spy application draining it. The tracking software uses a lot of juice to collect, store, and send data.
Faster draining of battery
Spyware also takes a toll on battery life. If you’ve noticed your phone dying quicker than usual, it’s very likely that someone is tracking you.
These applications stay active whether or not WiFi and mobile data are turned on. They’re silent and very dangerous.
Activities during Standby
Standby and Sleep Mode are two vital features in smartphones. They turn off all applications working in the background and save battery consumption significantly. If you have spyware on your phone, these functions disappear.
Since tracking apps continue working despite your phone’s settings, some apps like the GPS will stay active. And you won’t save battery life.
Overheating of the device
Several factors can lead to overheating. One of them is tracking applications. So if your phone’s temperature is rising while you’re playing a game or running heavy software, then don’t worry. But if it is heating up in sleep mode, consider it a red flag.
Receiving unusual texts
Another common side effect of tracking a phone is that the victim receives unusual texts. These could be in another language or a random combination of letters and numbers; either way, be on the lookout.
Also, don’t confuse unusual with spam because we all get those. It is an unfortunate spillover effect of our consumerist market.
Rebooting without reasons
If your phone is turning on and off unexpectedly, someone other than you has access to it. The hacker may be controlling this action. Alternatively, this could be a side effect of the coding software used. Either way, it is a red sign that you need to be aware of.
Taking longer to shut down
The tracking application shares real-time information on you, which means it’s constantly sharing data. When you try to turn your phone off, it delays the process so as to send the latest collected info.
Strange noise while calling
Some tracking applications allow the attacker to listen in on your calls, which creates a disturbance. This disturbance sounds like your friend or whoever you’re talking to, cutting off.
At times, this happens because of a bad connection. But spyware makes it a constant, so if you find that your friends can’t hear you, or vise versa, even if the best of connections, you have a problem.
Poor cell phone performance
Lagging, slow reactions and non-responsive games are all tell-tale signs of tracking software. Since this software is continually running applications in the background, they take a toll on your smartphone’s performance.
How to Check for Spy Software on an iPhone?
The nine tell-tale signs listed above are the easiest way to figure out if your smartphone has been hacked. However, they’re all also regular problems we all face with our phones. So how can you distinguish an old device from a hacked device?
If you can check off most of the signs we’ve given, then you can be fairly certain you’re being tracked. It is as simple as that. Wanting to be extra certain is understandable, though.
The two methods given below are confirmations that your privacy has been compromised.
If you find out your iPhone is jailbroken by someone other than you, you should be worried. How can you tell? Look for the Installer app on your phone. Go through the apps on your home screen and keep an eye out for ‘Cydia’ and ‘Icy.’
Sometimes hackers are smart enough to hide the app. Even so, you’ll find it if you’re looking for it. Check the list of all your software apps in the Apple store. It may seem unnecessary or over the top, but making this effort is the only way how to know your phone is tracked.
Beyond this, one surefire way to remove jailbreak is to upgrade your iOS.
While rooting isn’t always required, most spyware needs it to work properly. Therefore, security analysts advise against doing it yourself and avoiding it as much as possible. Even so, a lot of people do it willingly.
If you’re among the latter, refer back to the tell-tale signs of a tracking application. However, if you haven’t rooted your Android and suspect a hack, check your phone to see if someone else has done this task for you.
Download applications like Root Checker from a verified play store and run it. Alternatively, do a security check.
How to remove spy apps from your phone?
Once you’ve identified the presence of spyware, it is time to remove it from your phone. You do have the option of reporting it to the police; however, if you just want to get rid of it, these three tricks should do the job.
Manually Delete from Apps manager
To the hacking community’s dismay, spyware does leave a trace. It is software and, therefore, listed among the other applications on your phone. Most people don’t go looking through their app stores on a daily basis, so creating invisibility shields isn’t on the top of a hacker’s to-do list.
It’s also good for you because all you need to do to remove the tracking application from your phone is delete it like you would an old game you got tired of. It’s quick, straightforward, and frees you up to get security for your phone.
Update your device OS
New viruses and hacking codes come up every day. And your phone’s company has a team dedicated to countering them. Your protection is their priority because if their products aren’t safe, consumers will stop purchasing them.
Each new OS update arms your phone with the tools it needs to fight hackers and tracking software. So it’s vital that you stop clicking ‘later’ on that update message because you’re watching an episode of Ozark and instead choose to protect yourself and take a few minutes off.
The ten to fifteen minutes it takes to download the update can save you from a lot of stress down the road.
Perform a factory reset
Have you ever hit a television remote when it stops working? Or turn your laptop off and then on when it gets stuck for too long? Because if so, you have excellent practice for our third trip. When all else fails, perform a factory reset.
Unlike Sleep mode or Standby, this action doesn’t just put applications on hold; and it deletes them. Factory reset is as close to a clean slate as your phone can get. It will remove any virus and malware corrupting your phone.
Salvage as much data as possible before doing it; however, remember that if you connect your phone to any other device, you might transfer the malware.
How to keep your phone protected?
Now that you know how to know your phone is tracked and how to remove a tracking application, we’re going to talk about prevention. Because while the former is essential information, the latter is always better.
We’re sure you’d rather stop a malicious actor from gaining access to your phone than do damage control after the fact. Therefore, we’ve put together four vital tasks that you should seriously consider to protect yourself.
Use a password on the lock screen
Most tracking applications need physical access to your device. If you keep your phone under lock and key, hackers won’t be able to meet this essential criterion. Biometrics, passwords, pins, etc., are all valid forms of protection. Pick whichever is easiest for you.
Don’t root or jailbreak your phone
Rooting and jailbreaking leave you vulnerable to cyberattacks. Some hackers see it as an invitation to polish their skills. If you absolutely have to root and jailbreak, be extra cautious when installing.
Install a security app
VPNs are an excellent protective layer against malicious actors. They keep you anonymous, your activity untraceable, and your information protected.
This software builds a wall between you and malicious actors – even the weakest ones take time to breakthrough. This obstruction will make you ‘not worth the hassle’ and protect you.
Keep your device up to date
Companies like Apple and Samsung make money by assuring you, their customers, that they can protect your data. Scandals of information leakages and vulnerabilities in their software are bad for business.
Therefore, these organizations keep up with new threats and release updates that safeguard you against them. Always keep your operating software up to date.
Don’t install an unverified app
Downloading apps from unverified sources is a high-risk and unpredictable move. While there is a slight possibility of you walking away from it without a scratch, you can also end up giving a hacker a key to everything you hold dear.
Even in this worst case, where the app is laced with a virus, the software will do its job. If you’ve downloaded a game, it will run smoothly – a self-help app will dish out motivational quotes and exercise routines.
However, in the background, the hidden malware will explore every dark corner in your smartphone, gaining access to everything from your PUBG account to your passwords.
Therefore, you should always only install apps from verified stores like Google Play or Apple Play Store. It is the easiest and safest way.
Tracking applications are extremely dangerous. Beyond a symbolic violation of your privacy, they have the potential to cause serious, tangible harm to you and anyone associated with you. This is because the hacker responsible gets access to everything on your smartphone, from your meetings and phone numbers to pictures and locations.
If you can learn how to know your phone is tracked, you can prevent a lot of harm. It is imperative you make it a priority and convey the same message to those close to you.
First, familiarize yourself with the signs of a hacked phone. Second, confirm the presence of a tracking application. Third, learn how to remove it. And fourth, set up preventative measures to stop any future attack.
Following through will all four will keep you safe.