Check the list of applications installed on the smartphone
As trivial as it may seem, the first piece of advice I would like to give you is to check the list of apps installed on your smartphone. Because yes, it's true, spy apps often hide themselves, leaving no visible traces of themselves, but in some cases - for example those of parental control apps or anti-theft apps - they are still visible in the list of applications installed on the device (perhaps with a disguised name, eg Block Notes). It's worth a look, believe me!
It was used Android, you can view the list of all the apps installed on your smartphone by opening the menu Settings (the gear icon found on the home screen or in the app drawer) and going up App. Once you see the list of all the applications installed on the phone, look for the "suspicious" names (ie the names of the apps you do not know and / or do not use) and perform a search on Google in order to find out their real identity: if it is a spy app, select their names and remove them from the smartphone by pressing the button Uninstall.
If you use a iPhoneInstead, you can access the list of applications installed on your device by opening the menu Settings (the gear icon on the home screen) and going up General> Free Space iPhone. The list of apps will take a few seconds to populate.
Therefore, analyze the names of "suspicious" apps, search for their identity on Google e, if they are applications that harm your privacy, delete them by selecting their name and pressing the button Delete app present in the che si apre.
Check the list of apps with administrator privileges
Didn't you find any suspicious names in the list of apps installed on your smartphone? Trying to uninstall an application that you thought was "suspicious" did you get an error message that prevented you from moving forward? In this case I suggest you access the advanced settings of your smartphone and check the list of apps that have administrator privileges, that is, who are allowed to control the telephone and to act on the most delicate functions in terms of privacy (e.g. access to calls, messages, geographical location, etc.). If a spy app is installed on your device, it will almost certainly have administrator privileges and therefore it will be present in the menu that I am about to show you.
Let's go straight to the action: if you use a terminal Android, you can view the list of apps that have administrator permissions by opening the menu Settings and going up Security> Device administrators. If among the apps listed in the menu there are some "suspicious" ones, disable them by removing the check mark from their icons and then proceed to remove them from the smartphone (which at this point should be possible without more errors).
If your smartphone has been subjected to the root procedure, also check the list of applications that operate on the phone with root permissions (therefore with administrator permissions). Then open the application SuperSU / SuperUser and check if among the apps that have root permissions there are some "suspicious" ones: if so, revoke their administration permissions (by pressing the symbol #) and uninstall them from your phone.
Su iPhone, the presence of spy applications can be betrayed by the installation of custom profiles and VPN configurations. These profiles and VPNs are then exploited by spy apps to communicate with the outside world and send the collected information to cybercriminals.
To view the list of profiles installed on your smartphone, go to the menu Settings> General> Profiles (o Profile and device management) of iOS. If you find any suspicious element, select and delete it by pressing the appropriate item on the screen that opens.
To view the list of VPN configurations, instead, go to Settings> General> VPN e, if you find any suspicious profiles, go to the menu Settings> General> Reset. Then tap on the item Reset Network Settings and confirm: in this way you will go to reset all network settings and delete the VPN configurations. Be aware that by doing so, you will also delete the legitimate VPNs and the passwords of the Wi-Fi networks stored on the iPhone!
Please note: if you can't find the menu profiles o Profile and device management in iOS, it means that there are no custom configuration profiles on your iPhone.
Check the battery consumption
Spy apps, carrying out a continuous monitoring job, tend to consume a lot battery. To find them, therefore, it may be useful to access the settings of your smartphone and check the statistics relating to energy consumption.
A terminal was used Android, you can monitor the energy consumption of the apps installed on the device by going to the menu Settings> Battery: from the screen that opens you can get an idea of which apps have consumed the most e, consequently, find out if among them there are some with spying purposes. On some devices, such as Huawei, the same menu is found in Settings> Advanced Settings> Battery Management e, to see the list of apps that have consumed the most, you have to press on the item Consumption level.
Alternatively, if you want, you can go deeper with your research by installing Wakelock Detector: a free app that lets you know which applications have "woken up" the processor and therefore caused a power consumption in the last few hours.
Su iPhone, you can check the list of applications that have consumed the most energy by simply accessing the menu Settings and moving up Battery. The application list will take a few seconds to populate.
Test combinations to access spy apps
The most advanced spy apps, those designed with the sole purpose of monitoring user activities, hide completely from the victim's view and can only be viewed by typing specials codes in the browser or on the phone number dialing screen. Below you will find a series of codes that, if typed, could betray the presence of spy apps and therefore lead you to deactivate or uninstall them.
- localhost: 8888 to type in the browser.
- localhost: 4444 to type in the browser.
- *12345 to be entered in the phone number dialing screen.
If by typing one of the codes listed above you display the configuration menu of an app or, much more likely, a screen where you can enter your username and password, it means that a spy app is installed on your phone.
To remedy the situation, try to underste what the name of the app is e, if it does not appear in the list of applications installed on the smartphone (e therefore cannot be deleted with the classic app uninstall procedure), look for instructions on how to remove it. on Google.
If you have an iPhone unlocked by jailbreak (therefore at a higher risk of having spy apps installed on it), you can check the list of packages installed in Cydia and remove any spy apps directly from there.
Use an antimalware
A terminal was used Android, you may also find it useful to install, and then scan your device, with anti-malware software.
Android, on its own, mounts Google Play Protect: a free anti-malware from Google that runs automatically and periodically checks the apps that are downloaded from the Play Store (you can find it by opening Google Play Storepigging your pulse ≡ at the top left and selecting the item Play Protect from the menu that appears). However, when you suspect the presence of spy apps or other malware from sources outside the Play Store, it is advisable to turn to third-party solutions.
Personally I recommend Avast Mobile Security, which is among the best anti-malware for Android, but there are also other very valid solutions that you can consider: I told you about it in my post on the best antivirus for Android.
On iPhone, the malware risk is very low (especially if you don't jailbreak), so there are no software designed to remove malicious apps. The only thing you can do, if you are using an unlocked device, is to remove the jailbreak, in order to remove all apps installed via Cydia (including spy apps) and block their activities.
Reset the smartphone
If you have reached this point of the tutorial and you are still convinced that there are spy apps on your smartphone, I'm sorry, but you have nothing left but to resort to the most drastic solutions and reset your smartphone. Yes, that's right: format everything and restore the system to factory state. In this way you will delete all the apps and data on the device (including spy software) and you can start from scratch being calm that no one is monitoring your activities.
Almost needless to say: before proceeding to restore your smartphone, perform a backup, both online and offline of your data. As for online backup of contacts, photos, videos, messages etc. you can take advantage of the cloud services offered by Google and Apple. For offline backups, however, you can connect your phone to your PC and copy the content that interests you to your computer.
When you are ready to take action and format your smartphone memory, do the following.
- If you have an Android smartphone, go to the menu Settings> Backup and reset> Factory data reset e cheap prima su Reset device e then Delete everything.
- Se hai un iPhone, go to the menu Settings> General> Reset, tap on thel'opzione Initialize content and settings and confirm by pressing the button Initialize now.
If any steps are not clear to you or you want more information on how to restore Android or how to restore iPhone, check out my themed guides. At the end of the reset procedure (it will take a few seconds), you will find yourself with a refurbished smartphone e, above all, free from app-spy.
Avoid future installation of spy software on cellphone
After resetting your smartphone, make sure you do your best not to run into the spy app again. There are many little good habits you can take to reduce the risk of finding yourself in the situation you just experienced.
- Do not lend your smartphone to strangers - no matter how trivial this advice may seem, it is one of the most useful advice, because very often spy apps are installed by people who, with an excuse, manage to borrow the smartphone directly from the victim.
- Use a secure release system - set a secure PIN or use advanced unlocking systems, such as fingerprint or facial recognition. This way, even if your smartphone were to fall into unsafe hes, no malicious apps could be installed on it.
- Don't root or jailbreak - although they can be useful in certain contexts, the Android and iOS unlocking procedures facilitate the installation and operation of spy apps: better to avoid them.
- Do not install apps from unofficial sources - to be on the safe side, install only the apps that are distributed on the Play Store and App Store. If you are using an Android terminal, avoid apk packages and turn off the unknown origins on the menu Security settings. If you use an iPhone, avoid apps that are installed by connecting the phone to the computer or visiting sites created ad hoc (often these are Chinese sites).
- Keep your phone's operating system up to date - this closes any security holes that can allow malicious people to violate users' privacy. Find out how to update Android and how to update iOS in my themed guides.