Whether you’re using an iPhone or Android device, privacy is not a given on your smartphone. If you’re concerned someone may be watching you through your phone, check for suspicious applications, unusual camera behavior, and the following signs someone is watching you through your phone.
You can also run a scan using Certo, a spyware detection tool for iPhone and Android smartphones. Certo searches for spyware and other suspicious activity, checks the integrity of your OS, and removes threats from your system. Click here to check it out.
1. Suspicious Background App Activity
Spyware applications often operate in the background, staying on at all times to monitor your activity. This can trigger high battery usage and poor device performance, as the background activity uses up a significant amount of your device’s resources.
The exact nature of the background activity varies depending on the spyware in question. Some allow people to turn on the camera or microphone, giving them a way to watch and listen to you. Others log your device actions, including the calls you make, messages you send, apps you use, and login credentials you enter.
If your device is acting sluggish or the battery is draining fast, check your apps list for unfamiliar applications. On iPhone, you can review all of your applications at the bottom of the settings menu. You can also go to “Privacy & Security” in the settings menu, and check specifically which apps have access to your camera, microphone, and other aspects of your device.
On Android, you can open the Settings menu and go to “Apps”, where you can review your apps individually. You can also navigate to Security & Privacy > Privacy > Permission manager to see which apps have access to your camera and microphone.
2. Odd Camera Behavior
Strange camera behavior is another red flag that someone is using your phone’s camera to watch you. For example, if you go to use the camera and get an alert that it’s already in use, that’s a sign of potential spyware.
A camera that seems to instantaneously turn on when you access it – instead of a brief startup delay or a second or two – may also indicate that the camera was already in use through another app.
However, there are other device or application issues that may lead to the symptoms above. If you notice unusual camera behavior, look closely for the other signs described in this article.
3. Strange Camera Light Behavior
Even if the camera itself isn’t acting strangely, unusual camera indicator light behavior could mean that someone else is turning the camera on to watch you. While some kinds of spyware can disable the light – allowing the camera to run without turning on the indicator light – not all spyware has that capability.
If you see camera indicator light is on even when you aren’t using the camera, that can indicate that someone else is tapped into your camera. You should look carefully for other signs of spyware on your device. And if you want to be sure – and remove the spyware in question – you can check out Certo, an anti-spyware tool for iPhone and Android.
4. Unexpected Screen Behavior
Many forms of spyware run in the background, operating even when your device is in standby mode,. However, if your device is in standby mode and suddenly flicks on without any apparent contact or trigger, that could mean that a spyware app was turned on or accessed by another party.
Generally, this occurs when an idle spyware app switches to a more active state. For example, it could happen if a party that’s using the spyware app to watch you turns on the camera to see you. Usually, the screen only lights up momentarily upon the app’s activation. However, it can continue running even as the screen fades out.
A wide array of activities could cause a screen to turn on, such as a legitimate notification from an app you use. However, if you can’t connect it to a specific device activity, look closer for the other signs of spyware documented in this article.
5. Photos, Videos, or Audio Files You Didn’t Create
Another sign that someone is potentially watching or listening to you through your smartphone is photo, video, or audio files saved on your device or in your cloud storage that you didn’t create.
If you find suspicious files on your phone, they might contain malware – so handle them with care. Rather than interacting with them directly, you should use a tool such as Certo to scan the files.
6. Higher Data Usage
While some spyware applications store video, photo, and audio files on your device, others upload the information to a separate location that’s accessible by the person watching you. For that to happen, it has to use a data network. That can include cellular data services or Wi-Fi connections. In either case, your device may log higher than normal data usage if that’s occurring.
This issue is more obvious if you’re using a limited data plan, as it could trigger warnings or additional costs if the data consumption exceeds your account limit. However, devices usually track this information for both data network and Wi-Fi usage. Additionally, unlimited wireless data plans typically still track how much you’re using.
As a result, you can check to see if your data usage has increased with relative ease. If you see amounts far above what you’d expect for your activity level, that’s a red flag.
7. Your Location Is Being Accessed
In some cases, a person that’s watching you doesn’t just want to view or hear you through your device; they also want to know your physical location. Spyware apps may come with location tracking, allowing the application to pass that information along to another person. Additionally, built-in services like Find My Device or Find My iPhone can have location-sharing features, giving a person access to where you are through a non-malicious app.
If you’re concerned about spyware, the best first step is to check the list of all applications that have location permissions. If an app you aren’t familiar with is tapping into that data, research it to determine if it’s malicious.
For legitimate apps, you’ll need to explore the settings to see if your location is being shared with someone else. If a person may be using your login credentials to access those services through another device, you may see notifications that the services were used to locate you. In that case, update your password to prevent further access.
8. Poor Video Call Performance
While video call performance can vary for a wide variety of reasons – including connection strength, bandwidth availability, device background processes, and more – poor performance that doesn’t align with common issues could mean someone else is watching you during the conversation. Hackers can intercept video calls, either watching them as they occur or recording them for future viewing. Since that creates more activity during the call, the performance may degrade.
Often, determining whether spyware is responsible isn’t always as easy when the call is happening. Primarily, that’s because people know that a range of circumstances can impact the call, and most of them aren’t nefarious. However, if you previously had little issue with video calls and are suddenly experiencing ongoing problems, it’s worth looking into further.
9. Strange Sounds During Calls
Hearing odd noises during phone calls is another sign that there’s potentially spyware on your device. Generally, cell phones are known for reliable call clarity. If you hear strange sounds, that could mean something is recording or listening to the calls. Similarly, if you think you hear another voice on the line that isn’t one of the call participants, that’s a red flag.
What to Do if You Think Your Phone Has Spyware
If you encounter one or more of these signs, it is very possible someone is using spyware to watch you through your phone. Delete any suspicious applications, and consider doing a factory reset of your device. I would also recommend using a tool such as Certo to track down and remove spyware from your smartphone.