If you're concerned that someone may have installed a spy app on your iPhone, there are a few things you can do to find out. In this article, we'll show you how to look for hidden spy apps on your iPhone, and what to do if you find one.
What Are Spy Apps?
A spy app is software stored on your iPhone that may monitor your keystrokes, see your online activity, seize the information saved on your phone and memory card, and access your camera and microphone to watch and listen to you covertly.
While this could be done through the internet by a hacker, typically and more easily, this is put onto the target iPhone by someone you know who has direct access. They could have done this while you were distracted, sleeping, away for a moment, or while they were borrowing it. Usually, this is done to track your location and communications depending on their motives such as blackmail, but they may be seeking to sell your personal information online or steal money from your payment and banking apps.
Perhaps your iPhone has been acting strangely lately, or someone in your personal life seems to know more than they should…whatever your suspicions, it is good to know how to find spy apps on your iPhone.
How To Detect Spy Apps On My iPhone
Will your iPhone detect a spy app on its own? No, there is no built-in iPhone scan for spyware. But, here is how you can detect iPhone spy apps yourself. Below are common signs which indicate you should look more thoroughly for spy apps on your iPhone:
First, clear up space on your phone and close unnecessary tabs and programs to see if it still overheats. If so, malware can be causing your iPhone to overheat due to excessive processes and inefficient code.
Battery Draining Fast
While smartphone batteries gradually run out faster as they age, a sudden decrease in battery life may be caused by a monitoring app as it will run constantly in the background.
Unexpected Data Usage. A spy app can use your data to send your information back to the stalker. This can increase your phone bill on top of the invasion of privacy. Check your data usage for any suspicious activity.
Odd Sounds During Calls
If you suddenly start having odd background noises and echoes during your calls, this may be more than just a bad connection. Some applications will inadvertently cause noise distortions to calls as they monitor them.
Reduced Performance and Crashing. A phone getting old and damaged isn't the only thing that can lead to reduced performance. Malware may interfere with the normal functioning of your device by making it take longer to turn on/off, open/close programs, cause sudden reboots, and even crash.
Pop-up Ads and Messages
If you see pop-ups when you visit the web, or if you receive spam texts, you could have adware which sometimes comes with a spy app secretly attached. This is more likely if you jailbroke your phone to install unofficial apps as they can come with these nasty surprises.
Strange System Behavior
If you have GPS disabled but see the tracking location icon turn on in the notification and menu area, this can be from a spy app accessing your location. Similarly, if your screen suddenly turns on when not being used but there are no new notifications, this may indicate spyware activity.
Changes You Did Not Make
If you notice that your files have been moved, settings changed, or you now have programs you don't recognize, these are signs that someone may have accessed your device and installed spyware. For instance, you may find new log files or records of your activity that have yet to be uploaded to the stalker.
You may even see a new app, like Cydia, which is used to jailbreak phones and allow the download of applications that Apple protections would normally not allow. While it may not be on your homescreen, check your store and app lists for Cydia and other unfamiliar apps.
Requests For Access To Your Apple ID
If someone tries to access your Apple ID from an unfamiliar location or device, you will get a notification of the attempt. If this is not you, make sure to click Don't Allow. Otherwise, this could give a monitoring app access to your iCloud backup such as with the program mSpy.
How To Remove A Spy App From An iPhone
Now that you've learned how to detect spy software on your iPhone, follow these simple steps below to remove it.
Update Your iPhone's Software
Hackers rely on security flaws and system loopholes in order to gain access to your information. Apple continuously works on resolving these vulnerabilities, updating to the latest iOS will often remove and prevent spying apps from monitoring your activities.
Normally you'll receive a notification when the latest update is available. You can check and make sure you're up to date with the steps below.
- Open the 'Settings' app.
- Click on 'Software Update'.
- Download and install the latest update.
- Click on "Agree to Terms".
- Enter your password.
Uninstall Suspicious Apps
You can delete any app by touching and holding the icon and then clicking 'Uninstall' or 'Remove' before confirming this action. This includes spy apps. Remember to keep an eye open for the app Clydia, the off-market app store which many use to install spyware onto someone's phone or to install apps that come with malware attached.
Factory Reset iPhone
Yes, the data and memory of your phone will be wiped. But, this is sure to delete any spy apps from your phone. So, make sure to save anything important to iCloud or on an external memory device, like a flash drive, if you want to put it back onto your phone after resetting.
The risk of losing important files is one of the reasons some people prefer to try spyware detection and removal apps before resetting, however, if those apps do not work then you are only left with this option.
Reset your phone using the steps below:
- Go to the 'Settings' app.
- Click on "General Settings'.
- Click on "Reset".
- Click on "Erase all content and settings".
After following these steps, your iPhone should be completely free of spyware. Now that you know your information is safe, we'll cover how to prevent spyware in the first place.
How To Protect iPhone From Spyware
Here are the common practices you should adopt in order to keep your phone safe from spy apps.
Be Cautious and Alert
Given how easy it is for someone to spy on you, staying alert is your first line of defense. Keep your phone with you at all times and pay attention to those around you. Don't let anyone see you type in your passwords. Being alert online means avoiding questionable links, especially in emails from unknown sources, and staying away from insecure websites such as those starting with 'http:'.
Delete Useless Files
This includes unnecessary and questionable apps. Sometimes your device's security is only as good as the security of what's on it. If you delete old files and clear up clutter, it will be easier to notice when somebody changes or adds something without your permission.
Secure Your Phone
Make sure your passwords are unique and long to prevent educated guessing and brute force cracking. Use multiple layers of security such as two-factor authentication (TFA) which comes standard with iOS 13 and above. Enable Touch ID, Face ID, and add a passcode to your phone for maximum protection. Change your passwords regularly in case of leaks.
Update Your Phone
It is worth mentioning again that the most important factor in maintaining your phone's security is to keep it updated with the latest software. Those who are slower to update are behind the pack and easier targets for hackers.
Install Security Software
Antimalware, mobile security, and spyware removal software are options to consider when it comes to adding extra defense to your phone. Just do your own research before investing in any programs. You may also consider VPN services when it comes to extra online protection.
Now that you know how to detect, remove, and prevent spy apps on your iPhone, you have the power to keep your personal information safe. If you stay aware of those around you and be observant of what goes on with your device, it'll be difficult for someone to sneak a spy app onto your phone without you noticing.