Detecting spyware on an Android device can be pretty straightforward, as long as the malware isn’t extremely complex or good at hiding its tracks. While these steps may vary a little depending on your device, here’s how to look for spyware on your Android-powered phone, computer, or tablet.
How to detect spyware on Android phones and devices
- Check the “Allow unknown sources” menu. Use the search function on your phone to navigate directly to “Install unknown apps.” If it is on, it allows your phone to download and install apps not found in the Google Play Store. Turn this off to reduce the risk of installing spyware if you click on an unsafe link or open an unsafe attachment.
- Make sure you downloaded and use all of your apps. While you probably won’t find an app called “spyware” on your phone, periodically check that all the apps on your device are ones you actually use. Delete old apps because they could become vulnerable to hackers in the future, especially if they’re not maintained by developers. And if you find an app you didn’t download, delete it right away.
- Scan your device using security software. Programs like Norton 360 Deluxe offer protection from malware and hackers, and they can use a spyware detector to examine your system for known threats with a method called signature detection. Security software can also use heuristic detection to look for code or suspicious behavior based on the way it understands how normal programs work and how malware works.
Read also: how to detect spyware on an iPhone and Mac
How to remove spyware from Android devices
While some types of spyware on your Android may be very difficult to get rid of, there are a few steps to try when you need to secure your Android device.
- Use security software to delete spyware. Many antivirus or anti-malware programs are designed to isolate and delete spyware. Double-check that the software is compatible with your operating system before downloading.
- Update your operating system and apps. Updating your operating system and the apps on your device can close vulnerabilities and shut out spyware trying to use exploits to gain access to your device.
- Perform a factory reset. While this is extreme, it will eliminate most forms of spyware from your Android. However, some malware can survive a factory reset. If you reset your phone and it still behaves the same way, you may need to replace it.