Stalkerware is a very real issue for smartphone users, and it can be too easy for criminals to install it on your phone and access your whereabouts and private data. So, if you’re dealing with stalkerware on your phone, how exactly can you go about removing it?
How to Tell if There Is Stalkerware on Your Phone
There are a number of things you may notice if you have stalkerware on your phone, including a quickly draining battery, overheating, a change in your location settings, and unusual notifications. But however you determine that you have stalkerware on your phone, it’s crucial that you remove it as soon as possible so that no one can continue to access important information about you.
If you’re an iPhone user, then there’s a good chance you’re not dealing with stalkerware if your phone is acting unusually. While it isn’t impossible to install stalkerware on iOS devices, it is significantly harder than it would be on Android. Jailbroken iPhones are also much easier to install stalkerware on, so you might want to check if your iPhone has been jailbroken if you suspect there is stalkerware on it.
There are three main ways through which you can remove stalkerware from your phone, but you’ll need to pick the right option for you before you start. So, what are they?
1. Conduct a Factory Reset of Your Device
While you may be hesitant to conduct a factory reset on your phone, it can totally erase the stalkerware on your phone and return it to normal. Of course, if you do this, it’s important to first back up all important data on your phone: your videos, contacts, photos, etc. You can do this using your phone’s default cloud service, or use something like Google Drive to back up your data.
The only issue with this is potentially backing up the stalkerware too. If you can, try to isolate the stalkerware (in the case of spy apps, for instance) and only back up essential information, i.e. photos and contacts.
Initiating a factory reset will remove all non-default apps, therefore removing any stalkerware.
You can conduct a factory reset of your phone via your settings. This is a very simple process, but may differ slightly depending on the particular smartphone you’re using. However, a quick internet search will show you exactly how to reset your phone.
A factory reset will remove everything from your smartphone, so make sure you’ve backed up your essentials first.
A factory reset can also override a jailbreak, so you won’t need to worry about the presence of further stalkerware if you conduct a factory reset on an iPhone.
2. Update Your Operating System
Some stalkerware is only designed for older operating system versions, so updating your OS could disable the stalkerware installed on your device. But this isn’t a guaranteed removal method, and the stalkerware may continue to operate even after an OS update.
Your device won’t always be due for an OS update, but you can find out whether it is in your device settings. If an update is available, this could help in disabling any stalkerware on your phone.
3. Use a Spyware Detection Removal App
Because stalkerware is a type of spyware, you can use spyware detection and removal apps to get rid of it on your phone. Anti-spyware apps work by detecting malware, ransomware, or stalkerware on your device, as well as any other security threats. They can also prevent the installation of any stalkerware on your device if someone attempts to install it while you have an anti-spyware app active already.
A lot of these anti-spyware apps can also successfully remove any kind of stalkerware present on your phone, which means you won’t have to manually find and remove it yourself.
There are a number of great anti-spyware apps out there right now, including Norton, McAfee, Bitdefender, and Avira. However, many of these apps come at a price, so it’s best to determine which gives you the most bang for your buck before signing up.
Remove Stalkerware as Quickly as Possible
When someone installs stalkerware onto your device, they are able to see everything you do, from making phone calls to sending messages, browsing social media to taking photos. Even the smallest function like a quick virus scan can be detected using stalkerware, so it’s crucial that you make an effort to remove it as soon as you know that it is on your device.
Using the methods above, you should be able to successfully remove any stalkerware from your phone and regain your privacy.
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