How to Tell if There’s Spyware on Your Cell Phone

Today’s smartphones are more powerful computers than our home desktops were not long ago. They are connected to the internet at all times, through WiFi and 4G data, with apps, software updates, and regular notifications coming and going at all hours of the day. However, with all of that network traffic, and all of that sensitive information, the risk of spyware and other viruses infecting our cell phones has become considerable.

Just as every good computer is equipped with anti-virus software to protect it against the many cybersecurity threats in the world, our phones are now vulnerable too. You may have spyware on your mobile device now, if you don’t know what to look for. In many ways, this is even more dangerous than spyware on our personal computers, as our phones contain so much sensitive information – from banking login credentials to personal messages to stored photos and files.

So, what can you do to determine if your phone has been infected? Well, there are many tell-tale signs. Among these are the following:

  • Unexpectedly high data usage

  • Activity during standby

  • Unprompted reboots

  • Difficulty shutting down or restarting

  • Increased app usage

  • Deteriorating battery life

However, this is not an exhaustive list! There are plenty of other ways that malware and spyware can make themselves known on your cell phone. And while most of these are possible for a variety of other more benign reasons, it is still worth investigating if you have noticed some or all of these symptoms present on your device.

Now, supposing you do have spyware infecting your mobile phone, all hope is not lost. There are plenty of anti-virus and spyware removal tools, just as there are for computers. However, you can also often manually track down the sources of spyware and remove them yourself. Using your phone’s built-in security tools gives you this ability.



On Android, go to your Settings and go to Additional Settings. There, you’ll find the Application Management tool, which allows you to search through all of the existing applications and installations on your device. Searching for known spyware tools, or for keywords like “track,” “monitor,” “spy,” and “trojan,” can root out a great deal of the simpler malware apps and viruses out there. Your Safety and Privacy settings can also be adjusted, with Unknown Sources prevented from making installations without notifying you first.



iOS devices usually require a trip to the Apple Store in order to have them cleaned or have spyware removed. A jailbroken iOS device is more susceptible than others, and if you did not jailbreak it yourself and notice that this has occurred, you will want to update your software immediately. Searching through files is not as simple on iOS as it is with Android, but as a last resort, you can always factory reset your device. 

It’s not just our PCs that we have to worry about anymore. Your mobile device is vulnerable to spyware exploits, too. Armed with a little knowledge, though, we hope you’ll be able to avoid these malicious applications and viruses, and have the tools you need to recognize them on your own devices!