There are several signs that someone's cell phone is running spyware: we show you what to look for and what steps to take immediately to get rid of it.

Contrary to popular belief, Android or iPhone devices cannot be hacked, and the Pegasus scandal is a good example of this. Whether it is “simple” data theft, espionage, or government surveillance, malicious actors do not sit idly by.

Spyware can get into a device in two ways: one is by exploiting a security vulnerability and is installed on the device almost unnoticed, without any user intervention, while the other way is when someone clicks on a phishing link received in an SMS – That the installer is actually also spyware is done, most likely completely unnoticed. Although it is rare, it also happens that an app containing spyware is included in both the App Store and Play Store. Reader's Digest magazine. The newspaper asked three technology experts to prepare the article: Craig Lowry of Keeper Security, Cindy Murphy of Tetra Defense, and Russell Kent-Payne of Certo Software.

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According to experts, there are signs that there is some type of spyware running on the device:

  • Phone drains and overheats unusually quickly: This may be due to spyware constantly running in the background, putting a burden on the device.
  • Unusual text messages: Especially ones that look like you sent them, but are sure you didn't.
  • Increased data usage: While the spyware is active, it constantly sends data to the hacker, which leads to continuous Internet usage, which is also reflected in data traffic.

But the question arises: How can we get rid of spyware? There are several methods available for this purpose.

  • One of the easiest ways is to install an antivirus application and run a scan with it. Simply search for “virus scanner” in the App Store and you'll see a series of well-known brands.
  • Update your operating system and applications. A new version of the operating system may patch exploited vulnerabilities, rendering the spyware inoperable. The more updates you skip installing, the more risks you expose yourself to – this also applies to installed applications, because they may also contain vulnerabilities that are fixed with updates.
  • Delete suspicious apps that you don't remember when or why you installed them.
  • If you have an iPhone, check the devices assigned to your iCloud account at the bottom of Settings – Apple ID. If you don't recognize something, remove it immediately. This is important because if a hacker adds their own device to the account, they will have access to almost everything because of the syncing: they can even install backups of other devices themselves. You can avoid this by setting up two-step authentication – for this purpose Here is a guide in Hungarian.
  • Delete cookies from time to time. Although they make browsing easier, malicious parties can access our various accounts by stealing them – we've written about how to delete them here before.
  • Factory reset your phone. It's a drastic and definitive step if nothing else works, but it certainly works. A description in Hungarian is also available for this purpose.
  • Review your passwords and change them. Even if you get rid of the spyware, it is unavoidable to change all passwords, because attackers have a good chance of obtaining them during an attack. Where possible, set up two-step authentication. Major platforms, banks and social networking sites already offer this option.
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Finally, it is important to emphasize that you should always be careful and prudent: do not click on unknown links in SMS or email, check the sender, and do not install anything on your phone if you are asked to do so by someone pretending to be a bank employee. Unless of course you are sitting in a bank branch.

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