Any device connected to the internet is at great risk of targeted attacks and cybersecurity threats. According to recent mobile cybercrime statistics, the number of global mobile cyber-attacks was approximately a staggering 2.2 million in December 2022.
This means your phone is vulnerable to multiple forms of cyber-attacks, including spyware infection. Hackers can find a way to install mobile spyware onto your phone to monitor crucial information and expose you to privacy and security risks.
They can listen to your calls, access your text messages, and even find out what you’ve been browsing on your phone lately. In some cases, they may use spyware to record nearby conversations. So, you need to take extra caution and protect yourself against this encroachment.
In this article, we’ll highlight key signs of a spyware attack on your phone and what steps to take if you find yourself in such a situation.
How Phones Get Infected With Spyware
Unlike computers, phones aren’t prone to virus and malware attacks. However, the increased adoption of smartphones and their personal data has made them a great target for malware attacks.
Even though less common today, mobile phones can be compromised by spyware. And this can happen through simple ways such as those described below.
Unfortunately, not all apps in official stores like the AppStore or Google Play Store are genuine and harmless. These platforms unknowingly host numerous harmful and fake apps. It’s far too easy to download a malicious app out of curiosity or by mistake. You can avoid falling victim to spyware infection by learning to spot fake apps and exercising caution.
Phishing emails are random emails and messages that have now been popularized to spread malware. While spotting phishing attempts can be challenging, some are blatantly obvious. For instance, receiving an email claiming you’ve won a prize and all you need to click on a link is a huge red flag.
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Public Wi-Fi networks can also be a breeding ground for malicious hackers and snoopers. These individuals often lurk on open networks with poor security, preying on unsuspecting victims. Protect yourself while using public Wi-Fi by using a reliable VPN that protects your device’s connection activity from prying eyes.
Direct Spyware Installation
In the case of a direct installation, a person physically accesses your phone to install the malware manually. So, you need to always keep a close watch on your phone and not leave it unlocked or unattended.
Key Signs Your Phone Has Spyware
A hacker will always find a way to install spyware on your phone if you don’t take extra caution and practice safe online behaviors. While it’s often hard to detect, there are a few signs to check a phone for spyware and secure it. These are:
1. Unusual Battery Drain
Spyware often operates in the background, consuming system resources and causing increased battery usage. Unexpected and significant battery drain may indicate the presence of spyware.
To mitigate this issue, monitor your battery usage by checking the battery settings on your phone. Look for any apps or processes that are consuming a significant amount of power.
Here’s how you can check battery drain stats on your Android phone:
- Open the Settings app on your phone
- Tap Battery or Battery Usage on the list.
Your phone will display a list of apps and the battery life they consume.
2. Increased Data Usage
Hackers use spyware over internet connectivity to transmit the information gathered from your device. This may lead to a sudden increase in your data usage, even if your browsing habits haven’t changed.
As a safety precaution, monitor your data consumption regularly by reviewing all the data usage statistics. You should also consider setting data usage alerts or limits on your phone to notify you if unusual spikes occur.
Follow these simple steps to check data consumption statistics on your Android phone:
- Go to the Settings app
- Tap Connection & Sharing
- Go to Data Usage
- Proceed to scroll through the list of apps on your phone to see how much data each one is consuming.
3. Slow Device Performance
If your phone’s performance has significantly slowed, it could be a sign of spyware. You may experience delays when launching apps, navigating menus, or even during basic tasks like typing or browsing the internet.
To address this issue, try closing unnecessary background apps and clearing your device’s cache to free up system resources. If the issue persists, run a comprehensive scan using reliable security software to detect and remove any potential spyware.
4. Unexpected Pop-Ups And Ads
The presence of spyware can result in an onslaught of unwanted pop-up Ads. These Ads will be persistent on your device screen, even when you’re not actively using specific apps or browsing the internet.
Consider using a reputable ad-blocking solution or browser extension to combat this issue. Additionally, ensure your device has comprehensive security software installed to detect and block ad-serving spyware.
5. Strange App Behavior
Spyware can interfere with the normal operation of apps on your phone. It could indicate spyware activity if you notice apps crashing, freezing, or behaving erratically, especially after installing new apps or updates.
To address app-related issues, update all your apps to the latest available versions. If the problems persist, uninstall suspicious or unfamiliar apps and perform a thorough security scan using trusted anti-spyware for Android.
Some spyware can strain your device’s hardware, causing it to generate excessive heat. So, take extra caution if your phone becomes unusually warm, even when you’re not engaging in resource-intensive activities.
It could be due to a potential spyware attack. Luckily, you can prevent overheating by not running too many apps simultaneously. And if your phone overheats despite following these measures, consider running a security scan to check for potential spyware.
7. Suspicious Text Messages or Battery-Draining Calls
Look out for text messages containing random characters, symbols, or an unusual series of numbers. They could be coded commands sent by spyware to control your device remotely. Additionally, prolonged or unexpected phone calls that result in rapid battery drainage may indicate suspicious activity.
To safeguard against such threats, exercise caution when opening text messages from unknown or suspicious senders. Avoid clicking on any links or replying to such messages. In the case of battery-draining calls, consider contacting your service provider to investigate the issue and ensure your device’s security.
By being aware of these signs, you can proactively identify and address potential spyware on your phone. Take extra measures such as regularly updating your phone’s operating system, exercising caution when downloading apps, and maintaining safe online behavior.
Protecting your privacy and security is key in the digital age, and with vigilance, you can keep your personal information safe from unauthorized access.