If you have raised enough suspicion or know for a fact that someone has installed spy software on your phone without your consent, the next step is to try and get rid of it. In this article, we will go over just exactly how you can efficiently do so. Although t can easily be done using a couple of specific methods for which we will go over. Depending on the brand or operating system your phone runs, you don’t need to have very advanced technical skills to get this done. If you are uncertain of whether or not someone did indeed install tracking programs on your smart phone or tablet, I would suggest you read the following post on how to detect tracking apps first, and follow up with improving the security of your cell phone in order to avoid future attacks on your privacy.
These basic starting points are directed for people who have been unfortunate victims of espionage or spying being done on their electronic mobile devices without them knowing. If you are simply a user of monitoring software, and want to remove the application from one of your devices, most services allow you to do so remotely right from the web panel page, and you can consult their respective FAQ for more directions. For the rest, let’s move on.
Change Your Passwords
Change all your passwords! Especially if you share the same password for every account you have. The most common mistake people do with credentials is have one password for all their accounts. Email, Facebook, Instagram, iCloud and so on, should all have unique or slightly different passwords. Why you may ask? Simply because if someone gets a hold of your password, they pretty much have access to all of your accounts, and this person might not even know you, as they can be located anywhere in the world.
You might be suspecting that someone has installed cell phone spy software on your smartphone, but that may not even be close to being the case. First and foremost, the person would need to have physical access to your phone, and the password to unlock it in order to install the spy app in the first place. However, if they have some account passwords, they can simply be stalking you with those. It is possible to monitor cell phones with iCloud accounts, which means that if someone has your iCloud password, they can take your data from that account either by logging in, or by using software that collects your backups. Therefore, changing your passwords is your first line of defense and should not be delayed.
Factory Reset to Remove Spy Software
One of the easiest and most efficient ways to remove and uninstall spy software from your cell phone or tablet, is to run a factory reset on it. For those not familiar with what factory resetting is, this feature allows us to reset electronic devices back to the settings and virgin operating system setup it had when you first took it out of the box. It pretty much uninstalls everything, and re-installs a fresh copy of the software, and is a common way to fix problems with a variety of devices, including smartphones and tablets.
The factory reset will wipe out everything from apps to your contacts and saved settings, and for that reason, it’s one of the best ways to ensure that you get rid of all tracking software that might be present on the device.
It’s a Good Idea to Backup Your Phone First!
Since it’s going to wipe everything out, if you don’t want to say goodbye to your precious address book, pictures and videos, run a backup on everything with the exception of your installed apps! Even when using one of the other methods described below, the best way to avoid regret and permanent data loss, is to back it up before doing any changes! Below are some links to backup guides and tutorials:
- Android: Backup Guide 1 – Backup Guide 2
- iOS: iCloud Backup – Other Methods
- Blackberry: BB Backup – BB 10 Backup
- Windows Phone: Windows Backup – Restore Backup
How to Factory Reset Your Device
Its’ not very complicated to do a factory reset and the option is usually found under the settings menu. Once you start the reset, it is not reversible, so make sure you have backed up all your wanted files first. The system will wipe itself clean, and restart in the process. It may prompt you for a few things and one to watch out for is; “re-installing or keeping all your apps“. Make sure to select no, or it will most likely save a backup of the hidden spy software as well. Below are links to step-by-step, easy to use, visual guides for all popular mobile operating systems:
- How to Factory Reset Your Android Device
- How to Factory Reset Your iOS Device Using iTunes
- How to Factory Reset Your iPhone – All Methods
- How to Factory Reset Your BlackBerry
- How to Factory Reset Your Windows 8 Phone
Update Your Operating System to Remove Spy Apps
This method is not as effective at removing spy software as completely re-installing, but it can still be a good way to stop the app from being able to monitor or track you any longer. By installing a different version of your operating system, there is a good chance that the software will no longer be compatible and cease working.This method is most effective if your phone brand has just recently released a brand new update for the OS. It can also work if you roll-back to an older OS version as a temporary fix.
You might find dated guides suggesting that updating your OS will wipe clean all apps, and although this was once the case for Android, newer versions now backup your apps to Google Drive, and it becomes important to ensure you do not backup your apps with this method. If you’re an iPhone or iOS user, updating your software version becomes a very effective method of removing the tracking program for the reasons covered below.
Updating Your OS will Remove Your Jailbreak or Android Rooting
Rooting of your Android and Jailbreaking your iPhone are against your service agreement with the vendor. Obviously, many people still do this to unlock all possible capabilities and third-party software, but since it’s not allowed, every time you update the operating system, the device will no longer be rooted or jailbroken. You can still unlock your devices by re-doing the process, but it may require you to wait for hackers to release the latest version of software allowing you to do so. But what if you’re using an iOS device?
Well, this is good news, as all spy software requires your device to be jailbroken in order to be installed. For all iPhones, iPads and iPods, the only apps available are those on the Apple store, unless you jailbreak it, which allows you to install software from any third party company. This is the main reason people jail break their device in the first place! But, if you have been a victim of espionage, and someone installed this software without you knowing, unless you had jailbroken your cell phone yourself, that person had to do it. So, by updating your OS, you will effectively remove the app completely.
Manually Removing Software
Many people ask – “how can I just uninstall the tracking program and leave my phone as is?” The answer to that question would be very complex and vary from one service to another. Monitoring software is designed to be stealthy and invisible, in order to remain concealed in case the device is stolen or falls under the wrong hands, and the top providers make it very hard to even find a trace of the application anywhere on the device. Android users are lucky enough to have access to an app called “Anti Spy Mobile” that seems to work well, mentioned further down, but beyond that, manually removing can be very difficult.
It requires going into your directory folders and finding the actual files that belong to the app. Very often they use codenames and cannot be found that easily. In fact, it will often require professional training matched with expensive software forensic tools. In a Forbes article, a forensics expert’s attempt at detecting and removing spy apps was covered, and you can get an idea of how much it takes. Keep in mind that what the expert says to be moderately easy, would be beyond difficult for the average user without the same tools and software used by professionals.
Best Way to Delete the Software for Android:
Android has a large selection of software available on the Google Store and that includes an app for the exact purpose of finding and removing any kind of hidden monitoring and tracking software that could be present. The most popular at the moment is Anti Spy Mobile Free – rated 4 stars overall by over 7000 users.
Beyond the app, we would suggest a factory reset, while an update can also work if you do not backup your apps, and remains much easier without all the work that comes with setting up your phone from scratch again, resetting it will ensure that any malware or illegitimate spying and logging viruses are also taken care of.
Best Way to Delete the Software for iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod):
Since jailbreak is a requirement for installing third-parting monitoring programs, it becomes very effective to simply update your OS. If you are already using the latest version, you may want to simply backup your essential data and reset the device, as a rollback to earlier iOS versions may be technically difficult.
There is one exception to this jailbreak rule called PhoneSheriff Investigator, which uses iCloud to access and log your data. In this case, securing your iCloud account would do the trick and should be taken as an extra precautionary step. Updating your password and upgrading to 2-Step authentication is vital nowadays, to ensure you don’t fall victim not only to spying but hacking, as we saw with the fappening!
BlackBerry and Windows Phones:
Due to various models of BB devices and the early age and small user-base of Microsoft’s Windows Phone platforms, we have yet to test these further and would suggest hard resetting to default, in order to have to most effective results and ensuring you no longer get spied on another minute.
Better Safe Than Sorry
All of our electronics can be used against us, especially our cell phones, tablets and computers. We are often exposed to online risks, but when it happens to be someone close to us, it becomes that much more personal. If you have any doubts that someone may have added tracking programs on your mobile cell phone in order to see your calls and messages or track your location, follow our guide and steps to detect monitoring software. The best thing to do is build habits around data security and preventing others from violating your privacy. In our next how to guide, we show you what to do to better secure your mobile device from spy apps and overall general security. This knowledge is simple, but so very useful at keeping you, your family and children safer from here on.