How to Know If your Mobile Phone is Under Control

Using your smartphone often, you immediately notice when something is wrong. However, you just cannot figure out if the “strange behaviors” of the device you are experiencing in the last few days are related to some common software problem or if there is something more.

For this reason, you are looking for guidance on how to know if the mobile is under control, so that you can eventually try to fix the situation. In fact, you have the doubt that someone is trying to steal personal information from your smartphone.

There are several checks that you can implement in a context of this type, and it is nothing so complex: below you will find all the quick indications of the case. That said, there is nothing left for me to do, except to wish you good reading!

How to know if your phone is under control

Since you are wondering how to know if the mobile phone is under control, it is right to proceed step by step in search of any suspicious operations that could take place “behind the scenes” of your device. Following what is indicated below, you will therefore be able to understand at least if your mobile phone has ended up in known problems that can occur in this area.

Check the list of installed apps and the presence of strange profiles.

The first trick you can put in place is to check the list of apps installed on your device. In doing so, in fact, you may be able to quickly find the presence of suspicious or disguised apps (which in certain cases can be linked, for example, to parental control or anti-theft features).

If you usually use an Android smartphone, what you can do is go to the Settings path > Apps > Show all apps (the items may vary slightly depending on the version of Android in use). In this way, in fact, you can view the installed apps, then being able to go in search of any suspicious names. Clearly I can go into detail up to a certain point with my indications, considering the number of variables in play, but you may want to help yourself with Google searches related to the  apps you know less to  dispel your doubts (it could also be simple system apps, to be clear).

You could also try to remember which apps you have recently installed, reasoning that the problems you are experiencing could have started after installing a specific app (and that is the problem). In any case, if you find something anomalous, the advice is to proceed with the uninstallation of the apps involved.

Moving on to what you can do if you have an iPhone, the path to reach in this case is that Settings > General > iPhone Space. If you find suspicious names, even here the advice is to proceed with the uninstallation. To be clear, to proceed just tap on the name of the app, then pressing on the item Delete app.

Remaining in the iPhone, a further check that you could do is that relating to the possible presence of strange custom configuration profiles and VPNs. Malicious operations conducted by malicious people could in fact make use of settings of this type, so you may be interested in following the path Settings > General > VPN and device manager, to understand if there is something you have not done. In case there is any suspicious profile, clearly, proceed to delete.

Net of this, a case that can occur is related to the continuous receipt of malicious notifications on the browser side. In fact, bad guys could potentially try to exploit this system to trick you into pressing on malicious links and so on. So if you continue to receive strange notifications, for example, from Google Chrome, what you could do is proceed to delete browsing data.

Usually this procedure can be able to fix a good number of problems of this type, but before implementing it you should remember all the passwords related to the services for which you have logged in via browser (deleting data involves a “reset” of the session). In any case, to proceed from Google Chrome, simply tap on the icon of the three dots at the top right, then reaching the path History > Clear browsing data > Advanced.

At this point, set from the beginning as Time interval, check all the boxes that appear on the screen and tap the Clear data button.

Check app consumption.

An alarm bell that could lead to the discovery of suspicious apps (clearly then to be uninstalled) is the excessive use of data traffic or battery. If there are abnormal consumptions, in fact, “behind the scenes” continuous monitoring could be taking place or there could still be some malicious activity.

Nowadays controlling what happens on your device in this area is quite simple, since both Android and iOS integrate native features that allow you to do this. To be clear, in both cases checking energy consumption is child’s play: just reach the Battery > Settings path (and tap on the Battery Usage option) to be able to view graphs and indications relating to the apps that consume more. If you notice something abnormal, of course, proceed to uninstall.

Another check that you may be interested in then put in place is that relating to the use of the data connection. Whether it’s spyware or Trojan downloaders, or sending  or downloading information maliciously, an abnormal spike in this context could give you a clue as to where the problem might lie. On Android you can do this check by going to the Settings path > Network and Internet > Internet (or similar) and then pressing on the gear icon that you can find next to the name of the telephone operator. After that, just tap on the App Data Usage option to access all the details of the case.

If you usually use an iPhone, however, you can reach the Cellular Settings > > Cellular Data path to look at the matter. Also in this case, clearly, if you find any anomaly, proceed to uninstall the apps involved.

Check your phone credit.

Although nowadays, given the necessary precautions taken by the sector in general, everything is less widespread than in the past, conducting a telephone credit check can always be a wise choice.

You should know that some malicious actors usually exploit a system of unwanted charges that can potentially drain the remaining credit available on your SIM. If you think there is something strange from this point of view, you could therefore call the classic number to check the credit or, even better, go through the official app of the operator to look at everything.

Check if there are spy apps.

Net of all the checks mentioned above, you may want to try to make a last check before you start thinking that there is nothing too strange about your trusted device. I refer to the possibility of finding any spy apps present.

In fact, you should know that the latter can potentially betray their presence by leaving hidden” menus active. These are generally accessible using codes in the browser or in  the dialer (i.e. the screen where the phone numbers are dialed). Taking advantage of these procedures you could therefore find the presence of a configuration panel (clearly if there is a spy app in between), from which you can try to uninstall everything.

To proceed, therefore, try typing in the browser the codes localhost:8888 and localhost:4444 or dial the code *12345 in the dialer. If using these codes you see the configuration menu of an app, there is a spy app on your mobile phone. To remove everything, the advice I can give you, also related to the elimination of any traces that this type of app could leave, is to carry out specific searches on Google about the problem you are experiencing.

What to do if there are important suspicions

If following the instructions relating to the analysis of the smartphone you  have found that there is actually something wrong, you may want to take additional precautions (net of uninstalling the apps involved). Below you can find all the details of the case.

Reset your smartphone.

To completely remove malicious issues related to, for example, spy apps from your mobile phone, an important tip can be to reset your smartphone. Be careful, though: returning the system to the factory state will remove all data and applications on the device.

Use an antimalware.

If you are interested in keeping your device monitored so you can understand as soon as possible if there is something wrong or not, you might want to make use of an antimalware. In this case we refer to the Android world, as relatively to an iPhone these solutions are usually not so useful.

However, it must be said that nowadays even Android has a built-in protection solution. To access the latter, just start the Play Store, tap the profile icon located at the top right and select the Play Protect option. You can now start a manual scan by tapping the Analyze button, but it is often the system itself that performs automatic scans.

For the rest, if you are looking for an extra degree of security, you may want to look at third-party antimalware as well.

Try to avoid similar situations in the future.

In conclusion, it is worth providing you with quick tips to try to avoid similar situations in the future: below you will find everything.

  • Do not lend your smartphone to strangers: this is a trivial advice, but that could “save” you from malicious people who, with a simple excuse, could appropriate your smartphone to install spy apps.
  • Do not install apps from unofficial stores: the apps on the Play Store and App Store are verified and therefore it is less likely that there are malicious solutions on these sources. If you have an Android terminal, avoid installing APK packages and disable the setting related to unknown sources (or similar) in the phone options.
  • Do not unlock the phone: the unlocking procedures of Android and iOS make it easier to install spy apps: that is why you would do well to avoid them. If your device has already undergone these procedures, remove the root and jailbreak.
  • Update the operating system: Sometimes cybercriminals exploit security holes in Android and iOS to spy on their victims. Since software updates released by Google and Apple often contain the resolution of potential security issues, that’s why you’d do well to update Android and iOS.

For the rest, given the increasing interest in the privacy issue, I would like to refer you to some indications relating to that context (which clearly goes beyond what has been explained here). In this regard, you may be interested in deepening my guide on how to spy and track a cellphone.