Spyware is software which steals personal data from mobile devices and transmits it to hackers’ servers. Spyware can operate in different modes; it can be discreet or annoying. Discreet spyware operates in the background and tries to conceal its presence in the system. Its main task is to gather information.
Annoying malware showers you with advertising messages which significantly slow down your device’s operation. Moreover, every time you accidentally click on an advertising banner, you help its developers to earn money.
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Why spyware is dangerous
The greatest danger of spy apps for Android is that they keep a close eye on the owners of devices. Via spyware, dishonest programmers can steal private information such as:
- the content of your messages,
- your call history,
- your GPS coordinates,
- your passwords and other authorization data from a browser,
- your photos and videos,
- audio recordings of your telephone conversations.
You may think that there is nothing special on your phone. For example, you might rarely use SMS messages, but never forget about mobile banking. An app only needs to extract a one-time password from an SMS to gain access to your online bank and make it available to third parties. Social network pages, e-wallets, and access to corporate sites are stolen in the same way: via a password sent in a message.
Stolen call histories are usually added to commercial databases. These are then purchased and used for sending advertising messages. If you receive a lot of spam, it's quite possible that someone from your contact list has been hacked via spyware.
There’s no need to explore the problems of spyware accessing your multimedia: no one wants his or her private photos and videos to be published online - especially when it comes to nude photos. Criminals can even demand money for material with especially "juicy" details, and there is no guarantee that they will get rid of the stolen contents from someone else’s phone gallery even once they have received a payment.
How to figure out if there is a virus on your phone
It's quite difficult to detect a spy app without using antivirus software. Indirect signs of having a virus on your device:
- reduction of your mobile device’s battery operation time,
- mysterious disappearance of mobile internet traffic,
- occurrence of advertising messages in your gadget interface.
Even if you've spotted just two symptoms from the list, you should immediately take action and preferably of a radical kind.
How to remove spyware from Androids
The most radical way to remove spyware from an Android phone is to format the internal memory, and do a hard reset of the phone. However, some of the most cunning kinds of spyware can survive even this, as they've already got into the system files. Therefore, if you perform a reset and memory re-format, it’s best to scan the device with antivirus software as soon as it’s up and running again.
The best anti spyware app apps for Android
One way of dealing with spyware is to scan your phone for viruses. There are a lot of mobile security apps (both paid-for and free) for the Android platform. According to test results, the most successful ones for removing modern spyware are:
Malwarebytes Security is a free app targeted at removing spyware, trojans, and other malware. It scans the device’s internal memory and SD card for viruses, and conducts a security audit.
Malwarebytes Security scanning
Viruses detected by Malwarebytes Security app
Malwarebytes Security’s operation principle: you select the path to your files, run the scanner, and click on "Delete" if it finds anything. The audit works slightly differently: a built-in feature checks the permissions of all installed apps. It's convenient for controlling access to your camera, messages, and internet. Malware Security is among the best software for spyware removal on Androids!
Bonus feature: Malwarebytes Security Spyware Remover automatically checks incoming messages for suspicious links and blocks access to dangerous URLS, thus preventing your mobile device from downloading any viruses / malware apps.
Incognito – Spyware Detector and Phone Security
This is a highly specialized anti-spyware detection app for Android. In fact, "Incognito" has only two functions: find a dangerous file, and then destroy it.
It's important that antivirus databases are updated frequently, and while operating in the background, this program doesn't waste your device’s resources, so it's useful to have it at your disposal in case you accidentally download a virus.
Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus
A virus scanner and spyware removal app for Android which hardly needs any introduction. This app doesn't have a separate feature for dealing with spyware and malware, but its background protector and standard scanning can easily detect it.
Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus scanning
As an extra bonus, in the menu you can find an option called "Secret contacts", used for storing the most important phone numbers and chats. This is protected with a password.
Avast Mobile Security
This is another popular spyware detector for Android and other mobile platforms, which can find spy apps and detect trojans. Standard scanning finds malware and, using the removal feature, the app gets rid of it forever.
Avast constantly operates in the background, preventing your device from downloading spyware.
Avast app for Android: phone scan
Bottom line: The above mentioned antiviruses and anti-spyware apps for Android can help you to stop anyone tracking your device. All the same, the best way to protect your device is to prevent viruses in the first place. Avoid installing unknown programs (especially ones which do not come from the Google Play) unless necessary, keep your antivirus operating while you surf the Internet, and never follow links sent to you in an unknown messages.
Ilia is a professional writer. He has expert knowledge in data recovery with 15 years of experience. He started his career as a journalist by reviewing PC and mobile apps. His current responsibilities are to keep track of users' questions and answer them.