Manual ‘search and destroy’ might be a fine approach to removing surveillance software — or spyware — from your mobile device, but it can be simpler with software like Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, which will alert you to application activity that may not be authorised by you.
“Because of the legally disputed status of stalkerware, many security solutions classify some problem apps as not a virus. You’ll still get a warning about it, though, so always read antivirus alerts carefully,” the Kaspersky team writes in a blog post.
Some surveillance or stalkerware apps notify their owners if antivirus protection is installed on the device. To get around this, Kaspersky suggests using its mobile spycatcher TinyCheck installed on a separate device, such as a Raspberry Pi microcomputer, configured as an intermediary between the router and your Wi-Fi connected phone.
This strategy works for iOS as well as Android as the phone can’t ‘see’ the TinyCheck software. Technical requirements and instructions are on the TinyCheck GitHub page.
“If you’re worried about being tracked by, say, a jealous spouse, it may be better not to let them know about your suspicions. We originally developed TinyCheck to help victims of domestic abuse, but we quickly realised it could be of use to anyone at all.”
The team also notes that no matter what you do, spyware usually reveals itself somehow — data limits might be exceeded quicker than expected or if the battery goes flat all the time. Or the device might turn on Wi-Fi, mobile internet or geolocation by itself.
Check which apps are consuming resources, or accessing your location. You can also check which apps have access to the Accessibility settings. If you delete any spyware you find, the person who installed it will likely notice. You can install the program, but that might erase evidence too.
Main defences from spyware:
- Use a strong password that you never share with anyone, and change it regularly
- Install reliable security software and scan the device regularly
- Download apps only from official sources such as Google Play or Apple’s App Store