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How to detect and remove spyware from an Android phone in 2024

remove spyware from android

Spyware attacks on Android are all too common these days, and they can wreak havoc on your device. From stealing your data to slowing down your phone, the impact can be serious. Spyware poses a significant threat to Android devices, sneaking in through various channels like malicious websites, apps, or even email attachments. Once installed, it can quietly monitor your activities, steal sensitive information, and even render your device sluggish or unusable. But don’t panic! One effective solution for detection and removal is using a reliable antivirus software like TotalAV, which can swiftly identify and eliminate spyware threats.

Protect your Android phone with TotalAV

If you’re worried about malware, ransomware, or any other type of cyberattack on Android, look no further than TotalAV. With its high-end ransomware protection, scans in real-time, and robust malware detection, TotalAV stands out as the best antivirus for Android phones.

9.7 /10
Real-time scans
Robust malware detection
Protects from ransomware

This guide of mine will explore effective methods to detect and remove spyware from your Android phone. From manual app checks to disabling suspicious permissions, I’ve got you covered. So if you’re concerned about the security of your device or have noticed any suspicious behavior, read on to learn how to safeguard your Android from spyware threats and enjoy peace of mind while using your device.

How to remove Android spyware

  1. Download a powerful antivirus from the Google Play store. I recommend TotalAV, now 80% OFF.
  2. Open the app and sign up.
  3. Run a security scan to detect spyware and malware.
  4. Follow instructions and remove detected threats from your Android phone.

Protect your Android phone with TotalAV

Signs of spyware on Android

Spyware, a type of malicious software, isn’t exclusive to Android devices and can affect any digital platform, including Mac computers and iOS mobile devices. One notorious example is the Pegasus spyware, known for its sophisticated infiltration methods and extensive surveillance capabilities on Android phones.

Detecting spyware on your Android device is crucial as it can lead to severe privacy breaches and compromise your sensitive information. Here are five signs to watch out for:

  • Unusual battery drain. Spyware often runs in the background, consuming significant amounts of battery power, and causing your device to drain quickly.
  • Slow performance. Spyware can hog system resources, resulting in sluggish performance and frequent crashes.
  • Strange behavior. If your device behaves strangely, such as sudden restarts, unexpected app crashes, or unexplained pop-ups, it could indicate spyware activity.
  • Excessive data usage. Spyware may transmit data to remote servers, leading to increased data usage beyond your normal usage patterns.
  • Suspicious apps. Be wary of unfamiliar apps or apps that request excessive permissions, as they may contain spyware disguised as legitimate software.

Getting infected with spyware can have serious consequences, including identity theft, financial fraud, and unauthorized access to personal data. To protect yourself, stay vigilant for these signs and consider using reputable antivirus software like TotalAV to detect and remove spyware from your Android device.

How to detect spyware on Android phone?

Below, I’ve simplified the proven steps to help you detect spyware on Android phones and remove them:

  1. Scan your Android phone with an antivirus program. Use reliable antivirus software like TotalAV to scan your device for any malicious software or spyware.
  2. Check for any installed unknown apps. Review your list of installed apps and uninstall any unfamiliar or suspicious ones, as they may contain spyware.
  3. Monitor battery usage and performance. Keep an eye on your device’s battery usage and performance metrics for any unusual behavior, which could indicate spyware activity.
  4. Review permissions granted to apps. Regularly review the permissions granted to installed apps and revoke any unnecessary or suspicious permissions that could be exploited by spyware.
  5. Disable administrator privileges for suspicious apps. Disable administrator privileges for any apps that you suspect may be spyware, as this can prevent them from making unauthorized changes to your device.

Best spyware detector for Android

The best spyware detector for Android would have a user-friendly interface and comprehensive protection features. After conducting extensive tests on 27 anti-spyware tools for Android, I confidently recommend TotalAV as the best anti-spyware for Android

TotalAV’s standout feature lies in its robust capability to identify and remove spyware effectively. Compared to other tools, TotalAV excels in providing comprehensive spyware protection, ensuring your device remains free from spyware threats. With its user-friendly interface and advanced detection algorithms, TotalAV offers bulletproof security, making it the top choice for safeguarding your Android device against spyware.

How to remove spyware from Android phone

Once you’ve detected spyware on your Android device, it’s crucial to take immediate action to remove it. The best way to safeguard your Android phone from malicious attack, present and future, is using an advanced Android antivirus like TotalAV.

1. Scan Android for spyware with antivirus software

Step 1. Download and install TotalAV, now 80% OFF, from the Google Play Store.

totalav download

Step 2. Log in and launch the TotalAV app on your Android device.

totalav app log in and launch

Step 3. Navigate to the “Scan” or “Antivirus” section within the app. Then initiate a full system scan by tapping on the “Security Scan” or similar button.

totalav app security scan

Step 4. Wait for the scan to complete; this may take several minutes depending on your device’s storage.

Step 5. Review the scan results to identify any detected spyware or malicious apps. Then follow the prompts provided by TotalAV to remove or quarantine the identified threats.

totalav app smart scan results

Step 6. Once the scan and removal process is complete, ensure your device is protected by enabling real-time protection features offered by TotalAV.

Step 7. Regularly perform scans to keep your Android device free from spyware and other potential threats.

2. Manually remove suspicious apps

Sometimes an Android phone would get infected by spyware after you download an unknown source app. If that’s the case, you can remove it yourself. Here’s a quick tutorial to guide you. 

Step 1. Open the Settings app on your Android device.

totalav app settings

Step 2. Navigate to the “Apps” or “Applications” section. Scroll through the list of installed apps and locate the suspicious app you want to remove.

totalav app manage apps

Step 3. Tap on the suspicious app to open its App Info page.

On the App Info page, tap on the “Uninstall” button to remove the app from your device.

duolingo app uninstall

Follow any additional prompts to confirm the uninstallation process.

Additional tips:

  • Once the app is uninstalled, restart your device to ensure that any associated processes are terminated.
  • After restarting, check the list of installed apps again to ensure that the suspicious app has been successfully removed.
  • Repeat this process for any other suspicious apps you may have identified on your device.

3. Disable administrator permissions for suspicious apps

Oftentimes, spyware apps just won’t let you uninstall them. That’s likely because they have administrator permissions. If that’s the case, you’ll just need to remove those permissions. 

Step 1. Open the Settings app on your Android device.

totalav app settings

Step 2. Navigate to the “Security” or “Lock screen and security” section. Then scroll down and select “Device administrators” or a similar option.

android device administrators

You’ll see a list of apps with administrator permissions. Locate the suspicious app and uncheck the box next to it.

A prompt will appear asking if you want to deactivate administrator privileges for the app. Confirm by selecting “Deactivate” or “Remove” depending on your device.

android deactivate administrator privileges

Step 3. Once disabled, exit the settings menu and return to the home screen.

Additional tips:

  • Verify that the administrator permissions for the suspicious app have been successfully disabled.
  • If necessary, restart your device to ensure that the changes take effect.
  • Repeat this process for any other suspicious apps that may have administrator permissions.

4. Update your Android OS

Keeping your OS up-to-date is yet another easy safeguard from viruses and spyware. New Android OS versions come with patches and updates that among other things address security vulnerabilities. To update your Android operating system, follow these steps:

Step 1. Open the Settings app on your Android device.

Step 2. Scroll down and select “System” or “About phone.” Tap on “System updates” or “Software update.”

android system updates

Step 3. Your device will check for available updates. If an update is found, follow the on-screen prompts to download and install it.

Step 4. Once the update is downloaded, your device will restart to apply the changes.

Step 5. During the installation process, your device may reboot multiple times. After the update is complete, your device will boot up with the latest version of the Android OS.

Additional tips:

  • To ensure that your device stays up to date, enable automatic updates in the settings menu.
  • Periodically check for updates manually to ensure that your device is always running the latest software version.

5. Restore default Android factory settings

When nothing seems to help remove spyware from Android phone, factory reset is your last resort. Just make sure you have a backup from before you started having issues with your phone. Then follow these easy steps:

Step 1. Tap Apps.
Step 2. Tap Settings.
Step 3. Tap Backup and reset.
Step 4. Tap Factory data reset.

Step 5. Tap Reset Device, then reset everything.

android factory reset

How I got spyware on my Android phone

Spyware can infiltrate Android phones through various means, including:

  • Malicious apps. Despite Google’s rigorous vetting process, some malicious apps slip through the cracks and make their way into the Play Store. For example, in 2019, Avast discovered eight stalkerware apps masquerading as legitimate applications. These apps were downloaded by unsuspecting users, amassing over 140,000 downloads before Google removed them. This incident highlights the ongoing battle between cybercriminals and app store security measures.
  • Phishing attacks. Cybercriminals often employ phishing tactics to trick users into downloading spyware onto their devices. For instance, users may receive fraudulent emails or text messages containing links or attachments that, when clicked or downloaded, install spyware onto the device. These phishing attempts can be highly convincing, mimicking legitimate communication from trusted sources, making them difficult to spot for unsuspecting users.
  • Side-loading apps. Installing apps from third-party sources, outside the official Play Store, poses significant risks as these apps bypass Google’s security measures. Cybercriminals may distribute infected apps through unofficial channels, enticing users with promises of free or modified versions of popular applications. Once installed, these apps can secretly collect sensitive information from the device without the user’s knowledge, compromising their privacy and security.

Protect your Android phone with TotalAV

Best practices for Android spyware protection

Here are six effective steps you can take to protect yourself from spyware on your phone:

  1. Install antivirus software. Use reputable antivirus software like TotalAV to regularly scan your device for spyware and other malicious threats. TotalAV offers robust spyware detection and removal capabilities, providing real-time protection against cyber threats.
  2. Update your apps and operating system. Keep your apps and operating system up to date to patch security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by spyware. Enable automatic updates whenever possible to ensure you’re always running the latest version of software with enhanced security features.
  3. Be cautious of app downloads. Only download apps from trusted sources like the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, as they have stringent security measures in place to detect and remove malicious apps. Avoid downloading apps from third-party sources or suspicious websites to minimize the risk of spyware infection.
  4. Practise safe browsing habits. Avoid clicking on suspicious links or downloading attachments from unknown sources, as they could contain spyware or malware. Be wary of phishing attempts and fraudulent websites designed to trick users into installing spyware on their devices.
  5. Use strong passwords and biometric authentication. Protect your device with strong passwords or biometric authentication methods like fingerprint or facial recognition to prevent unauthorized access to your device and sensitive data.
  6. Regularly back up your data. Regularly back up your data to an external storage device or cloud service to ensure you can restore your information in case of a spyware infection or other data loss incidents.

Final thoughts on removing spyware from Android

The damage caused by spyware on an Android phone can be devastating, compromising your privacy, security, and even financial well-being. What would happen if you unknowingly leaked sensitive personal information, such as passwords or financial details, to malicious actors who exploit it for fraudulent activities? In such a scenario, acting swiftly is crucial to safeguarding your digital life.

With so many anti-spyware removal tools, my tests show that TotalAV is the quickest solution for detecting and removing spyware from your Android device. Its advanced features and real-time protection gives a comprehensive security against cyber threats. 

Additionally, you can manually remove suspicious apps, disable administrator permissions for potential spyware, and perform a factory reset as alternative methods to combat spyware infiltration. As you take these proactive measures and leverage reliable security solutions like TotalAV, you can effectively safeguard your Android phone and protect yourself from the harms of spyware.

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What is the best anti-spyware for Android phone?

TotalAV is the best anti-spyware tools for Android phones. It offers comprehensive protection against various cyber threats, including spyware, with its advanced scanning and removal features.

How to scan for spyware on Android?

To scan for spyware on your Android device, first, visit the Google Play Store and download a trusted antivirus (I recommend TotalAV). After installation, open the app and begin a comprehensive system scan. If any spyware is detected during the scan, follow the prompts provided by the app to safely remove the malicious software from your device.

How to detect Pegasus spyware on Android?

To detect Pegasus spyware on Android, use specialised antivirus software such as TotalAV, renowned for its advanced scanning capabilities. TotalAV can effectively identify and eliminate complex spyware like Pegasus, safeguarding your Android device from potential threats and ensuring your privacy remains protected.

How to remove Pegasus spyware from Android?

To remove Pegasus spyware from Android devices, start by initiating a thorough scan with a reliable antivirus app like TotalAV. If detected, follow the app’s instructions to remove the spyware. Consider seeking help from cybersecurity experts for further assistance.

Does factory reset remove spyware Android?

Yes, performing a factory reset can remove spyware from an Android device. However, this method may not always be effective against sophisticated spyware like Pegasus, which can persist even after a reset. It’s recommended to combine a factory reset with antivirus scans for comprehensive spyware removal.

Can someone spy on my Android phone?

Yes, it’s possible for someone to spy on your Android phone using spyware applications. These malicious apps can track your activities, access sensitive data, and even remotely control your device without your knowledge. Employing robust security measures like antivirus software can help detect and prevent spyware attacks.

How to remove spy apps from Android?

To remove spy apps from Android, go to your device’s Settings, navigate to the Apps or Application Manager section, and manually uninstall any suspicious apps. Additionally, perform a thorough scan with a reliable antivirus app like TotalAV to ensure complete removal of spyware and other malicious software.

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