Impenetrable security should be a non-negotiable attribute on every modern smartphone, but unfortunately, it is a luxury that comes with splurging extra on a premium device. While Apple and Samsung’s flagships may be built like digital forts, the more affordable smartphones are fairly easy to break into. If you’re worried your device may be compromised, there are some tell-tale signs to look for, in order to confirm your suspicion. You can read more about them here. Once you’re sure of the presence of stalkerware apps on your device, you have your task cut out for you. In this article, we bring you the 6 best ways to find and remove stalkerware and spyware apps from your smartphone.
Table of Contents
Find Stalkerware apps on your device
Check permission access for individual apps
If an app installed on your device is spying on you, it will require location, camera, and microphone access at the very least. Go to Settings>Apps>Permission Manager and go through all the permissions individually. If you notice an app with more permissions than it requires, uninstall it from your device. It is possible that the app might be infected with stalkerware.
Check device admin access
Spyware and stalkerware apps need admin access on your device to carry out their intended purpose. The third-party apps you download from Play Store or App Store very rarely ask for this access. Go to Settings>Apps>Options>Special Access>Device Admin Apps and see which apps have access to admin settings. If you notice an unusual app that shouldn’t be there, remove it from your device. Stalkerware apps may also be disguised as something innocuous as ‘Clock’ or ‘Calculator’. These kinds of apps have no business seeking admin access and must be removed immediately.
Check battery, storage, and internet data
Since stalkerware apps are constantly running in the background, they utilise a significant portion of your smartphone’s battery. An average stalkerware app gets access to your location data, files, messaging, & other personal information and relays it to the entity that installed it on your phone. In doing so, the app takes up a noticeable portion of storage on your device and relies upon your mobile data/WiFi connection to transmit the data from your phone.
Go through your phone’s battery and storage status and look for any unusual activity. At the same time, check the data usage for any bump in numbers. If you find an app with increased battery, storage, and data usage, uninstall it from your device.
Remove Stalkerware apps from your device
Perform a factory reset
A factory reset wipes all the data from your device and restores it to the condition it was in when you took it out of the box. If you are sure that your smartphone contains spyware or stalkerware apps, a complete factory reset will remove them from the device. This method comes in handy when you can’t locate the spy apps on your phone. To factory reset your smartphone, go to Settings>General Management>Reset.
Update your phone’s OS
Stalkerware apps exploit the vulnerabilities in your phone’s software to carry out unsanctioned tasks and spy on your activity. Most manufacturers offer multiple years of security patches for their devices to fix this issue. Always make sure that your phone is updated at all times. Not only does it make it harder for spyware to do its job, but it also keeps harmful malware out of your phone. Once you install a new security update, it will patch any known issues, thereby disabling the functioning of any stalkerware apps.
Scan your phone using an anti-Spyware tool
There are several third-party tools and anti-spyware apps that specialise in scanning your phone for malicious apps that pose a risk to your privacy. Kaspersky, McAfee, Avira, and many other anti-virus apps are equipped with tools to detect and remove spyware from your device. Make sure you run regular checks to find and remove stalkerware on your smartphone.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which app detects stalkerware?
Most antivirus apps like Avast, Avira, Kaspersky etc. are equipped to detect stalkerware apps as well.
How do I know if I have stalkerware?
If you notice your battery and internet data draining faster than usual, it is possible you may have a stalkerware app on your phone.
What is the most common stalkerware?
Reptilicus, Cerberus and Pegasus are some of the most common stalkerware around.
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These are the 6 best ways to find and remove stalkerware and spyware apps from your smartphone. Most parental control apps also serve a similar function as stalkerware and can be used by malicious entities to spy on you. It is advised that you keep your phone updated at all times and perform regular checks to stay on top of things.
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