As mobile devices grow more advanced, more and more of the tasks that used to require a computer can be handled with a few taps in the right app. With a smartphone in hand, you can conduct your banking, check into your work network, log in to see the results of a medical test, and yes, even make phone calls. That huge concentration of personal and professional information—usernames, passwords, and the contents of texts and emails, for starters—make these devices a tempting target for malicious actors. Are you confident that your Android phone is 100% secure? You probably shouldn’t be.

Smartphones running Android OS make up 75% of the devices in use in 2022. Accompanying that dominance in market share is a host of spy apps (also known as spyware or stalkerware) that give someone the ability to secretly monitor and record information about somebody else’s phone activity. (If you’re among the quarter of the market using a device running iOS, you’re not safe either—there are plenty of similar spyware apps made for that platform, too.) Often these apps as marketed as being for concerned parents to keep an eye on the online activity of minor children. However, the not-too-subtle subtext makes it clear that at least some spy apps are designed with features better suited to espionage than to parental supervision.

What Android Spyware Can Do

Like other kinds of software, the exact features of different types of spy apps vary. However, one thing they all share is that they’re designed to conceal themselves, running in the background at all times to grab information without you noticing. They might be disguised as something innocuous like a weather or calculator app, but it’s even more likely they’ll leave no obvious visible trace whatsoever. What kind of data is at risk if there’s spyware on your phone? Among the capabilities spy apps can deploy to gather information surreptitiously are:

  1. Viewing call logs
  2. Recording and listening to phone calls
  3. Recording and listening to phone surroundings by accessing the device’s microphone
  4. Reading emails
  5. Reading all sent and received text messages
  6. Accessing, viewing, and downloading photos and videos
  7. Accessing chats in popular apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and more
  8. Tracking the GPS location of the device
  9. Monitoring internet browsing history
  10. Viewing Wi-Fi network logs
  11. Viewing calendar entries
  12. Keylogging entries
  13. Taking live screenshots
  14. Sending captured information to a remote user

“In short, if someone succeeds in putting spyware on your phone, it’s best to assume that everything is compromised”….

Craig petronella, cybersecurity guru!

Signs of Spy Apps and What to Do About Them

Again, spyware is designed to travel under the radar, so the signs your phone has been tampered with are likely to be subtle. Maybe your phone is running hotter than it should, or the screen turns off and on again for no reason. Your battery might drain faster, or your data plan might show an expectedly high usage (although some such apps can be set to only upload information when connected to Wi-Fi, helping to disguise such activity). The one tiny piece of good news is that in general, spyware apps require physical access to a phone for installation, but only once. After that point, the hacker will be able to gather all the data they want without ever touching your phone again.

So what do you do if you think you’re a victim of spyware? Consult an expert. At Petronella Technology Group (PTG), we can remove malware of all kinds safely and effectively, ensuring the integrity of your device, computer, or network. We can also help you put cybersecurity protections like keystroke encryption in place to help you maintain a strong line of defense against potential data breaches.

For business owners, PTG can also thoroughly assess your company’s cybersecurity posture with vulnerability scanning, penetration testing, social engineering testing, and more to find and eliminate points of weakness. Every device used to access your business network is a potential for hackers—don’t wait to find out where there’s an open door for the attack. We’ll help you plug the gaps in your cybersecurity before it’s too late. To schedule your FREE initial consultation now, contact us here.

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