Did you know that the first smartphone was invented 15 years before the iPhone? It was a phone called Simon Personal Communicator, which was the first one of its kind to melt together the functions of both a cell phone and a PDA. Simon was ahead of its time, but looking back at 1992, when this gadget was created, you can understand just how far technology has come over the last two and a half decades. Nowadays, we can’t live without our cell phones. We use them to connect with people, to purchase items, and to store important information. But with so much at stake, how certain are you that your phone isn’t being watched, or that your important information hasn’t been compromised?

The bad news is that this happens on a regular basis, the good news – you can protect yourself. To do that you need to know a few things, starting from the ways to tell whether your phone is being spied on or not.

Signs That Your Phone Is Being Watched

It is possible to detect malware on your phone that has been specifically designed to spy on you. However, it’s far from easy. Different tools portray different signs. Nevertheless, there are a few basic ones that you need to pay attention to if you want to avoid becoming a victim of a security breach.

  • Excessive battery and data usage

Usually, batteries don’t last long, especially if we use our phones all the time. However, if you notice that your battery is draining even when you don’t use your phone, it might be a warning sign. Moreover, the same goes for your data. Most spyware apps use your mobile data, not Wi-Fi, to send information from your phone to the hacker’s server. So, make sure to check your network usage as often as possible.

  • Suspicious texts or sounds

If you received a text message that you don’t recognize, from an unknown server, be very careful. Usually, the spyware receives commands through these messages and this gibberish you received might be something important, such as a command for enabling your microphone or camera. Also, when you are talking on the phone, if you hear weird sounds interrupting your connection this can also indicate that someone is spying on you. This is not always the case, but you need to stay on alert.

  • Activity even when your phone is on standby

Check your app activity in the settings menu of your smartphone. Have you noticed something strange about your device? For example, your phone suddenly lighting up even though it’s on standby? Or perhaps it takes more time to power on or off? These are all signs that malware might be running in the background.

  • The back of the phone feels warm, all the time

Sometimes this can happen after we’ve used our phone for too long. However, if the back of your phone is warm even if you haven’t been using it, chances are – you are infected with a spyware. Usually, this malicious software runs in the background, because its purpose is to not draw attention from the victim.

What Are Your Options Once You’ve Been Infected?

Spy tools are difficult to detect, but once you do, the reasonable thing would be to remove it as soon as possible. If you are not certain whether you have been infected or not, you can always browse through your apps, and check whether the list has something that you haven’t downloaded yourself.

If you do find it, there are ways to remove it. You can either do a factory reset, which will basically erase everything from your phone, including the malware. Or, you can find the app that’s been compromising your privacy and remove it. Depending on your phone, this can be done by following the next few steps:

For Android: Go to your Settings menu and open Applications. Once you find “Running Services”, tap on it and browse through the list of apps that are currently running on your device. If you find something that looks suspicious or unknown, you can proceed to remove it. Before you do that, make sure that you empty the cache. You can do the same in the “Manage Application” section. Also, you can check which apps have permissions to your storage, camera, and microphone.

For iPhone: iPhones are known for their better security properties, so spying on them is much more difficult than on an Android device. Even when it comes to removing malware, it’s much better. The only thing that you need to do is update your device and these third-party devices will automatically be removed.

Is it Possible to Completely Protect Yourself?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. However, by following these steps you are already protected much more than you were before.

Additionally, you can use another means of protection on your phone and any other device you have at home. A VPN will really help you in adding another layer of security to your device. It will keep you safe from various cyber-attacks and will make sure that your device is secured even on public networks. However, this tool is not designed to prevent hacking, but to encrypt your Internet traffic. This means that there is no such thing as a 100 percent guarantee that you won’t fall victim to these cyber-attacks, but you can definitely make it excruciatingly difficult for your attacker to access your phone and compromise all of the information on it.