At a time when our mobile devices have become tools of surveillance, it is not bizarre to think that your phone may be getting tapped by unwanted entities. Modern smartphones store a huge amount of personal data, from your banking info to official documents like a driver’s license. Any breach of security can put your data at risk. This is why it is necessary to be briefed about any signs of unusual activity that could point towards a possible breach. In this article, we bring you the best methods to check if your phone is being tapped and how to stop it.
How to check if your phone is being tapped?
While there are no sure-shot ways to confirm whether your phone is being tapped, there are a bunch of signs that commonly pop up when a phone is being monitored. If you notice one or more of these signs on your phone, take the necessary measures which we mention later on in the article.
If you notice your phone starts overheating even when you’re not using it, it could mean there is some heavy background activity taking place on your device. Malicious spyware is designed to collect data from your phone at all times. This includes call records, text messages, device location, and even the audio picked up from the microphone. Collecting this much data is quite a heavy task and can take a lot out of the battery, leading to overheating. If your phone develops this issue out of the blue, chances are there is some spyware installed on your device.
Spike in data usage
After collecting all the personal information from your phone, the spyware needs to relay it back to the entity that installed it on your phone. This will lead to an unusual spike in data usage. Regularly check your phone’s data usage to make sure no hidden program is using the mobile or WiFi data. You can check your phone’s data usage by going to Settings>Connections>Data Usage.
Strange noise during voice calls
If you notice any strange noises during voice calls, it could mean a program is tapping into your phone and recording the conversation. Firstly, you need to make sure that the noise didn’t originate from either end of the phone call. Usually, when a phone is being tapped, you can hear a couple of beeps as soon as the call gets connected. This is a very strong sign that the call is being monitored by a third entity. If you notice any unusual sounds on a frequent basis, you should look into taking further action.
Excessive battery usage
If you notice your phone’s battery drains faster than usual, it means some background functions are constantly using it. Any decline in battery life that seems out of the ordinary warrants further inspection. In order to check the battery usage of specific apps go to Settings>Battery>Battery Usage and check if any app is using excessive battery power. Also, look for any unknown apps. If no app shows any excessive usage, there may be some hidden spyware installed on your phone.
Unwanted apps pop up on your phone
A lot of the time, intrusive spyware takes the form of a harmless app on your phone. It can be installed as the ‘Calendar’ or ‘Calculator’ app, something you don’t use that often and doesn’t attract a lot of attention. Sometimes, spyware can be installed as a totally different app altogether and you may not notice it, thinking it’s bloatware. Always be mindful of the apps on your phone and make sure you delete any apps that you don’t remember installing. If the icons of any of the regular apps look different, inspect further and find out whether it is because of a recent update or something else.
Webpages look different
If you have been using your smartphone for a while, you must be familiar with the size and style of font used by the web browser. A lot of the time, the spyware on your phone is used to gather your bank account info. This is usually done by phishing. Whenever you open a payment gateway, you will be presented with a fake banking webpage. The moment you enter your account info in that webpage and hit enter, the scammers get your bank account data. Usually, the fake web pages look slightly off, so always be on the lookout when making payments online.
Phone performance drops down
If your phone starts lagging out of the blue or slows down considerably, it could mean that a background function is draining its resources. Usually, a drop in performance alone isn’t a strong sign of your phone being tapped, but along with other symptoms it can be used to confirm whether your phone is being spied on.
Use a forwarding code to check if your phone is being tapped
Using a forwarding code is one of the best ways to check whether your Android smartphone is being tapped. By dialling *#21#, *#67#, or *#62#, you can find out whether your phone data is being forwarded to another entity. This is one of the best ways to confirm whether your phone is being tapped by a third party. This method works only for Android smartphones, so if you’re an iOS user, you will have to rely on the other methods on this list.
How to stop your phone from being tapped?
There are a few ways to ensure your phone’s security and safeguard it against any spyware. Even when you’ve confirmed that your phone is being monitored, there are a few instant measures you can take to limit the damage. Here are some things you can do to stop your phone from being tapped.
If you used the MMI codes mentioned above to find out your phone’s data is being forwarded to a third party, immediately dial ##002# to stop the data from being relayed forward. Upon dialling the code, you will receive the message “Erase successful”.
Find the spyware app manually
If you’re certain that your phone is being monitored, go to the file explorer on your phone and look for any suspicious apps. If you don’t find any suspicious apps, manually open every installed app on your phone (including native apps) and look for any unusual activity. Uninstall any weird apps you come across.
Perform a factory reset
Performing a factory reset will delete all data from your phone, including any hidden spyware. This is the quickest way to secure your phone, but you will lose your personal data. In order to perform a factory reset go to Settings>General Management>Reset>Factory Data Reset.
Install an antivirus app
A good antivirus app can help you prevent a data breach on your phone. It can also instantly recognise any malicious apps that want access to your device. You can find several highly-rated antivirus apps on the Google Play Store. Once you’ve installed an antivirus app, schedule regular checks for your smartphone.
These are some of the best methods to check if your phone is being tapped. Make sure you follow the steps we’ve mentioned to stop your phone from getting tapped. While the chances of your phone being tapped are extremely slim, it is always better to be on the side of caution. Always make sure that the apps you download on your phone are from trusted sources and come with the necessary safety certificates.