The suspects applications and emails may hide spyware designed to hack your phone.
Even some standard apps like Find My on iPhone can be used to locate you if you unknowingly share your location.
So how can you tell if your phone is being tracked? The following signs could be an indication.
How to know if someone is monitoring your phone
The first way to try to determine if someone is monitoring your phone is to look for strange behavior. A spyware hack will often cause your phone to do random things it wouldn't normally do, like turn itself off out of nowhere or keep the screen backlight on even after the phone is turned off. Looking for signs of a hack has the dual benefit of cutting off the hacker's access and preventing them from tracking you.
1. Battery discharge
If your phone can't hold a charge and is constantly overheating, even if you're not using your phone, something might be going on. A hacked phone will drain battery power faster than normal from trying to send your data back to the person who infected your phone. Worth Investigating A phone that suddenly heats up all the time and a battery that once lasted from morning to night but now barely makes it through the workday.
If you notice this regularly, dig a little deeper. Check your list of apps for anything you don't recognize. The Cydia app, for example, is an app store for jailbroken iPhone apps. If you haven't jailbroken your device and you're seeing this app, someone else probably has.
2. High data usage
If someone finds your phone through a hack, the extra data sent back to the hacker will show up as unusually high data usage – doubly so if the hack also sends back photos, screenshots or videos. If you don't have an unlimited data plan, this may also appear on your phone bill. Fortunately, you can see exactly which apps on your phone are using data.
To check data usage on an iPhone, go to Settings > Cellular. On Android, go to Settings > Network & Internet. It can also be found under Connections > Data usage or > Mobile data usage. You'll see a list of apps organized from highest to lowest data consumption. If you see any unknown app that uses a lot of data, uninstall it immediately.
3. Random icons in the status bar
If you're using an app that needs to know your location, like Google Maps, the little location arrow icon will appear at the top of your screen when you open the app. This is normal. If you see the location icon randomly turning on when you don't have any related apps open, it could mean that your phone is being used to track you.
If the red camera light or recording indicator on the front of your phone is flashing uninvited, this is another sign that your phone may have been hacked. A malicious app could use it to take photos of your messages, screenshots of your map data, or screenshots of your phone activity – and then use that information to track your location.
4. Websites don't look right
Some malware can act as a proxy layer on top of your browser, i.e. impersonating the page you think you're viewing so that you enter your login information into the fields. These credentials are then sent back to the hacker. Unfortunately, the best-practice trick of manually entering a website address (rather than clicking a link in an email or message) won't help here, because the malware actively intercepts the request and redirects it behind the scenes.
Be on the lookout for websites that don't look normal when browsing on your phone. Pay attention to website logos, look for spelling mistakes, and watch for subtle mistakes in website branding that don't match the actual company you think you're visiting.
If you think your phone may be being tracked or hacked, check your browser history along with everything else. If you see pages there that you don't remember visiting, this could be a sign that your device has been compromised.
How to avoid your phone being tracked
If you keep noticing strange activity, turn on your phone first airplaneThis breaks the attacker's connection to Wi-Fi and mobile data networks. Once this is done, check your phone for any signs of hacking or tracking.
1. Delete suspicious apps
If you installed a third-party app right before your phone started behaving strangely, there's a good chance the app was infected with malware. Delete it immediately.
Ελέγξτε τη λίστα των εφαρμογών σας για οτιδήποτε δεν αναγνωρίζετε, ειδικά αν έχει τη λέξη “tracker” στο όνομα – αυτό σημαίνει ότι πιθανώς πρόκειται για stalkerware. Εάν οι εφαρμογές αρχίσουν να ζητούν δικαιώματα που δεν χρειάζονται, όπως permission πρόσβασης και τροποποίησης αρχείων, αυτό είναι ένα προειδοποιητικό σημάδι ότι μπορεί να έχουν μολυνθεί με κακόβουλο λογισμικό.
Only install apps from trusted stores, such as the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. Also double-check them by putting the developer's name into a web search, because bad apps sometimes even pass their check.
2. Check your location settings
Someone might not even need to install an app on your phone to locate you – some apps that come with your smartphone are set to share your location by default.
Find My on iPhone, for example, can share your location updates with certain people by default. It's a good idea to regularly check who has permission to see your location in that app, or just turn off location sharing altogether.
To check this, open Find My and scroll down until you see a section with your name under the Notifications menu. If you don't see something like this, you're fine, you're not sharing your location with anyone through this app. If you see it, tap it. You'll see a list of people you share your location with, and you can delete those you don't want to see your location updates.
To turn off location sharing on iPhone, go to Settings > Security & Privacy > Location Services > Share My Location. There you'll be able to modify who has access to your location or turn off location sharing altogether.
People can also locate you with Google Maps. To see if you're sharing your location with someone through Google Maps, open the app, tap your account icon, then tap Share location. If no one appears there, you are not sharing your location with anyone. If there are people listed, you can remove them or turn off location sharing.
It's a good idea to check the permissions for all your apps to make sure none of them are sharing your location. Apps that need your location to work, such as Google Maps, should be set to share your location only when in use.
3. Use of protection programs
Anti-malware, antivirus and VPN applications can protect you and your data from being tracked. Regularly scanning your phone increases your chances of finding malware before things get too serious, while a VPN can obfuscate your browsing data to confuse detectors.
These apps only protect against known threats, so new cyberattacks may still be a threat, but it's much better than no protection at all.
Update your system regularly. Putting off software updates, especially for a long time, means you don't get the security patches built into those updates and leave yourself open to attack.
4. Factory reset
If all else fails, you can try a full factory reset of your smartphone. This should revoke any access a malicious hacker gained through malware and delete any suspicious apps that may be on your phone, returning everything to the way it was when your phone came out of the box. Back up your phone data regularly to the cloud or an external drive so you don't lose data if you decide to go this route.
5. Check your Apple ID and message forwarding settings
Some codes can let you know if your calls or messages are being forwarded to another device without your knowledge. They vary by network, but it doesn't hurt to try them as part of the scan:
If you're on a GSM network (like AT&T and T-Mobile):
- *#002# — Lists all call and data forwarding settings
- ##002# — Clears all call forwarding and data settings
If you're on a CDMA network (like Verizon and US Cellular):
- *72 — Lists all call and data forwarding settings
- *73 — Clears all call forwarding and data settings
You can also check if your Apple phone is connected to another device by checking the Devices section of your Apple ID dashboard. This will tell you about every device that's signed in using your Apple ID, and you can revoke access to any you don't recognize.
Can my phone still be tracked with location sharing turned off?
Yes, phones can still be located via Wi-Fi or nearby cell towers if one has the right technology. Stingrays, devices that mimic cell towers, can also trick nearby smartphones into sending them their location and other data. Malware can also transmit location data.
Can my phone be tracked even if it is turned off?
It is difficult to locate a phone when it is switched off. However, your mobile operator or ISP may show the phone's last location once the device is turned back on.
Επιπλέον, ορισμένα τηλέφωνα διαθέτουν λειτουργία εντοπισμού χαμηλής κατανάλωσης energy, ώστε να μπορείτε να εντοπίσετε το τηλέφωνό σας ακόμη και αν είναι απενεργοποιημένο. Τα νεότερα μοντέλα iPhone, για παράδειγμα, θα χρησιμοποιούν μόλις αρκετή ενέργεια για να λειτουργούν σαν AirTag όταν είναι ενεργοποιημένη η λειτουργία “Findable After Power Off” (Εντοπισμός μετά την απενεργοποίηση).
Can someone locate my phone on airplane mode?
Airplane mode interrupts Wi-Fi and mobile data. GPS location, however, uses a different technology and can be used to locate your phone in airplane mode. Disabling GPS and putting your phone on airplane mode is a better way to stop someone from tracking your phone.