Spying is a terrible invasion of a person’s privacy, and most forms of it are not only offensive but illegal. It is common for paranoid spouses and partners to look for even the slightest indication of a potential romance. Likewise, your ex might have installed spyware on your phone to find out what’s new in your life, your conversations, and the photos you’ve recently taken.
Such personal and confidential information that falls into the wrong hands can be used against you or put you and others at risk, regardless of whether you have something to hide.
So how do you know for sure if your smartphone or computer has spyware? We’re going to show you clear signs to know about, how to check for spyware and recognize what you find, as well as tips to remove spyware from your device.
Signs that your computer or phone has spyware
Spyware is designed to log everything a computer or phone does and sends usage data while remaining undetectable.
Some examples of spyware are keyloggers, which track and record keystrokes on your computer’s keyboard, or take screenshots of your device’s screen.
If you have the creepy feeling that you are being watched or someone is eavesdropping on your phone conversations, or your device is jailbroken, these signs should be alarming. It’s time to explore your spyware removal options.
When installed on your computer or phone, spyware consumes a significant amount of resources and network bandwidth.
If you notice that your monthly data usage is too high, chances are it has spyware installed. This is because the software uses the data to send usage data collected from your device. However, high performance spyware uses much less data, so it may not be possible to detect this in the data usage overview.
Sudden drop in battery life
This is another indicator of spyware on your computer or phone. If you notice that your battery is draining at an unusually high rate, it could be the presence of spyware that is draining it, especially if it is recording through a speaker or camera.
If your phone has a removable battery, you might want to test it with other batteries first, because you might also have an old one that runs out of power quickly.
There are several reasons for the slow speed on your computer or phone, for example, if your storage is full, or the hardware and software of the device prevents you from running multiple applications at once.
However, if you’ve ruled out this and your device is growing noticeably slower than usual, it is likely being monitored or controlled remotely.
Difficulty trying to shutdown and unexpected reboots
Spyware compromises your device and continues to run in the background, making it difficult for you to completely shut down your computer or phone. Sometimes it might reboot for no apparent reason or without your involvement, which is a sign that someone might have remote or unauthorized access to it.
Likewise, if you notice that your device is taking longer than usual to close active processes and shut down, spyware could be the culprit as it is still actively running in the background.
Strange background noises during calls and odd text messages
In the past, when landlines were used, it was common to hear strange background noises as the lines were not always stable.
However, networks today have stable connections and strong signals. If you hear strange clicks, it could mean that your phone is being monitored.
If you receive unexpected but strange looking text messages with strange characters, your phone may have spyware installed. It is a “coded language” that spyware uses to communicate with the outside, but it is also a sign of poor quality spyware.
Abnormal battery temperature
Battery temperature can be related to several technical issues, but if you haven’t had a problem with your battery before and is relatively warm, it could be a spyware sending usage data to other devices.
- If you have a Windows machine, you can check for spyware via the Start panel to double check the list of installed programs. If you do not see any suspicious programs, press CTRL + ALT + DEL and click Task Manager to see all processes currently running on your computer and identify any suspicious programs.
How to check, recognize, and remove spyware installed on your computer or phone
- If you have a Windows machine, you can check for spyware through the start bar to check again from the lists Installed software. If you don’t see any suspicious programs, press CTRL + ALT + DEL and click on Task Manager to see all processes currently running on your computer and identify any suspicious programs.
- Or use MSConfig in the Windows search bar and check for strange software consuming significant amounts of memory. Temporarily interrupt its process or, if you do not know what it is for, search for it on the Internet and delete it from your computer if it is confirmed that it is malicious.
- On Mac, you can click Launchpad, Activity Monitor (or go through Spotlight) and Other to check the current programs running on your computer.
- Check your TEMP folder and remove suspicious files. Your computer creates a TEMP folder to easily open a website or program, but it’s not just temporary files – it’s where malware often hides. If you see any suspicious files in this folder, you can delete specific files or delete everything from the TEMP folder.
- Install anti-spyware. This is the best way to check your computer for spyware. It performs a deep scan of your computer’s drives to identify and remove any potential threats lurking inside. If you don’t have one, you can try some of the best free spyware removal tools like SUPERAntiSpyware or Malwarebytes.
- For Android phones, check if your settings allow unknown sources to download and install applications as this will happen without your consent. To do this, go to Settings> Biometrics & Security (or Security).
- Click Install Unknown Applications (or Allow Unknown Sources). Check for any suspicious applications that you do not recognize, although some use generic names to avoid detection, and change the application settings to “Forbidden”.
- If you suspect tampering or hacking, download the Root Checker app from the Google Play Store and it will check for a tampering.
- iPhone is much more difficult to jailbreak or install using spyware or malware, but there are several ways to determine if your iPhone has spyware.
Note. Not every form of spyware requires a jailbroken device to be installed. If you see an unfamiliar process or application, do a quick Internet search to see if it is legal or not.
As with most things in life, use your sixth sense, especially if you suspect something is wrong, and take control of the situation.
- After you check and clean your PC or Smartphone from any infections, keep an aggressive spyware removal tool and a robust real-time protection security suite.
- You also need to change passwords, enable two-factor authentication, and update your operating system to the latest version.
- Contact your financial service provider to alert them to any potential fraudulent activity with your accounts. If your computer or phone contains confidential business information, do so publicly or report potential violations of state and federal laws to law enforcement.
As a last resort, reset your computer or smartphone to factory settings. You can also buy a new smartphone or computer and regain your privacy.