Want to know how to remove spyware from Androids? Spyware is used to monitor and record your activity on your phone, generally without your awareness, and it can be hard to detect and remove from your device.
In this guide, we explore the telltale signs someone has infected your phone with malware and explore how to remove spyware from Androids.
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Is Someone Spying on My Phone? The Telltale Signs
Malicious actors can use spyware to capture your usernames, passwords, payment details, chats, and emails and to record your internet browsing habits. Cybercriminals can use access to credit card and banking details to make purchases or commit other financial crimes.
From stolen banking information to identity theft, spyware can cause a lot of damage in a short space of time. So, how can you tell if you’re a victim of spyware for Android? Here are some of the telltale signs to look out for:
- Your device is slower than normal — Spyware demands computing power from your phone and can quickly burn through your battery life.
- You’re using more data than you normally do — This could be a sign that malware is using up your data by broadcasting large volumes of information to third parties.
- Suspicious transactions appear on your bank statements — If you see new, unauthorized transactions, your banking information may have been recorded and stolen by cybercriminals using spyware. If you’re worried, investigate further and contact your bank.
- You notice new, suspicious apps — One of the ways cybercriminals infect your device is by installing software with malicious code without your knowledge – so if you find apps you didn’t download, it’s a red flag.
- Your applications are acting up — Whether they’re opening without your permission or regularly crashing, odd behavior from your apps could be a sign your device has been infected with spyware.
- Getting spammed by pop-ups — If you’re seeing frequent, intrusive ads, this could be a sign of adware, a common form of spyware used to track behavior that will often expose you to untrustworthy sites and software.
Steps to Remove Spyware From Android
From downloading antivirus software to removing suspicious applications, let’s take a look at how to remove spyware from Android. Many of these steps will also apply to how to remove malware from Android, more generally.
Download or Update Your Antivirus Software
To remove spyware, you need to know how to detect spyware on Android phones. Antivirus software can be one of the best ways to keep your devices safe from all malware – including spyware.
Having tested and reviewed some of the top antivirus software on the market, we recommend TotalAV.
TotalAV is an effective spyware detector – based on testing by AV-Comparatives, it offers users a 97.7% protection rate against malware and viruses, blocking 508 online threats out of 520. Androids can be vulnerable to spyware, and we recommend TotalAV as a leading Android antivirus.
To download Total AV:
- Go to TotalAV, set up an account, and download the app by tapping the “Tap here” link under “Android.”
- This will open the Play Store – hit the “Install” button.
- Open the app and select “Log In.”
Run a Full System Scan
After downloading an antivirus program such as TotalAV, run a full system scan on your Android phone to detect any Spyware. Here’s how to do it:
- Open up TotalAV
- Tap the “Security Scan” button – and you’ll get a full system scan
Remove Suspicious or Unfamiliar Programs
When it comes to removing spyware for Android, it’s a good idea to remove any programs you don’t recognize from your device. Here’s what to do:
- Swipe down from the top to the bottom of your phone screen
- Wait for the menu to appear
- Tap on the “Gear” icon to open “Settings”
- Tap “Apps”
- Scroll through your list of apps
- Make a note of any suspicious or unfamiliar apps, running an internet search for any unfamiliar names
- Select the app you want to remove
- From the app information screen, tap “Disable” or “Uninstall”
- A pop-up will appear asking you to confirm the change
- Tap “Disable app” or “OK”
To help protect yourself from Android spyware, you should clear your browser cache and cookies. Cybercriminals often plant malware in your browser’s cache, so be sure to run through these steps to remove any hidden spyware lurking in your browser:
- Tap the Chrome app
- Tap “More”
- Tap “History”
- Clear browsing data
- Either select a time range or select “All time” to delete everything
- Check the boxes next to “Cookies and site data” and “Cached images and files”
- Tap “Clear data”
Check for System Updates
From new security updates to bug fixes, system updates can help protect your phone from spyware in the future. To update your Android:
- Tap “Settings” and then “System”
- Select “System Updates”
- Tap “Download and Install”
Do a Factory Reset
For complete spyware removal, it’s a good idea to do a factory reset on your phone. A factory reset removes all the data from your phone and returns it to its original settings.
- Open up “Settings”
- Select “System”
- Tap “Reset options”
- Tap “Erase all data (factory reset)” – you may need to enter your password to approve this
Why is Spyware So Dangerous?
There are several risks that come with having spyware on your device. First, though, let’s make the distinction between spyware and parental control apps. If you’re a parent looking to keep your child safe on the internet, you may have previously looked into or used parental control apps.
Here are some of the risks of having spyware on your phone or computer.
1. Stolen Passwords
Spyware is often used to steal passwords. As such, spyware can pose a major risk to your security – from your social media logins to your music and video streaming accounts. A hacker could access your cloud storage files or send phishing emails to your contacts from your accounts.
2. Financial Loss
In addition to spying on your passwords, cybercriminals can use spyware to steal your financial details. If you log onto your account to check your bank balance, cybercriminals may be able to see all the information you see, including your passwords, your account number, and details of the payments going in and out of your account.
They can then use this data to access your accounts – and cybercriminals can record and steal your bank and credit card numbers if you use them to make purchases on an infected device.
3. Identity Theft
In extreme cases, cybercriminals might use all the data they’ve collected on you to steal your identity. More elaborate financial crimes might even extend to opening new bank accounts and taking out loans.
4. Spying On Your Conversations
Cybercriminals can use spyware to monitor your digital conversations, whether in text messages, on Slack, or sent via social media apps.
They can do this by tracking keystrokes – the tap of a letter, symbol, number, or other keystroke. In some cases, they’ll also be able to access your call history, listen in on calls, or even turn on the device’s camera and microphone without your knowledge.
5. Viewing Your Search History
Some 67% of people say they value their privacy over convenience. Malicious actors can use spyware to sneak a look at all of your activities online – viewing every site you’ve visited.
How Does Spyware Get on Android Devices?
How does spyware get on an Android device? Knowing how your device can become infected is integral to keeping your phone and your personal data safe. These are some of the ways spyware can get on your phone.
1. Malicious Websites
One of the main ways spyware gets onto your phone is by infecting your device when you visit a malicious website.
2. Infected Email Attachments
There are also specific signs you can look out for to help assess whether an email is legitimate or not. These include:
- Email addresses that look odd, such as those seemingly from a different sender to the one credited in the message
- Emails with poor grammar and spelling mistakes
- Messages with misused brand logos or slogans
- Messages that ask for information or that direct you to click on a button or link
Just like email attachments, many people get caught out by links from unknown numbers. Cybercriminals often masquerade as legitimate organizations, such as your bank or a recruitment agency.
4. Software Downloads
Spyware often sneaks its way onto a device by masquerading as a seemingly legitimate app or plugin. Android spyware can also get onto your phone via add-ons and plugins downloaded alongside other software products.
Always download software from official websites to avoid infecting your device via a dodgy download. In addition, always double-check to see if a download comes with any unexpected additional add-ons.
Malware has found its way onto the Google Play store in the past, so it’s also worth being aware if any of your apps or plugins are behaving unusually or consuming a disproportionate amount of data or computing power.
Cybersecurity Guides to Read Next
If you found this post on how to remove malware from Androids helpful, then you might enjoy these guides:
- The Best Antiviruses with a VPN Reviewed
- The Best Spyware Removal Tools Compared
- The Best Malware Protection Solutions Compared
- Best Antivirus Software – Top Antiviruses Reviewed
Summary – The Best Android Spyware Removal Solution
Spyware can be an extremely dangerous type of malware, given that it can be used to track you online, hack your bank account, and even steal your identity. With the right tools, though, you can find and remove any spyware on your device.
For additional protection from spyware, always avoid using public WiFi, downloading software from unofficial sources, and clicking on questionable links in texts and emails.
We also recommend always using strong, unique passwords with a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols and looking into antivirus and VPN solutions to help keep your device free from spyware.