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How to Detect iPhone Spyware

written by: luis84•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 5/21/2011

Detecting iPhone spyware may not be as easy as it sounds. However, it is worth the trouble. Pesky iPhone spyware can steal your data and personal conversations in addition to reducing battery life, increasing data usage and even causing an increase in your cell phone bill.

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    iPhone Spyware

    You may have come here with the intention of detecting iPhone spyware, thinking that iPhone spyware was similar to spyware on a computer.

    Generally the term spyware is used to describe many different types of harmful software on a computer. The iPhone is not generally affected by most major viruses, adware and other harmful programs. However, the iPhone is susceptible to several "spy" programs (referred to as spyware) which record your text messages, emails, activities and even phone calls. This information is passed to a remote user who wishes to spy on you.

    These spyware applications cannot be installed remotely. If your iPhone is infected with spyware it means that somebody who has physical access to your iPhone installed these programs, with the intention of spying on your actions. This could be the work of a nosey friend, relative or even your significant other.

    This article will teach you the basics of detecting iPhone spyware, and how to remove it.

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    Detecting iPhone Spyware

    While you might expect that there would be a program to help in detecting iPhone spyware, that is not quite the case. There is no major software release to aid in detecting iPhone spyware, and no announcement of any plans for a future release from the major security companies.

    Detecting iPhone spyware is best done by a simple examination of your iPhone. There are a few signs that indicate your iPhone may have spyware installed. Aside from the signs presented by the iPhone, common sense will go a long way in detecting iPhone spyware.

    Consider the following personal scenarios which may increase the likelihood of iPhone spyware:

    • You have a jealous ex or a jealous partner with direct access to your iPhone.
    • You have recently lent your iPhone to a friend or family member who is very tech savvy.
    • You have recently lent your iPhone to someone you do not trust.
    • Someone else has recently synced music or apps to your iPhone.

    Check out our iPhone Security Tips to help guard against these potential problems.

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    Detecting iPhone Spyware - Symptoms

    The above scenarios, in combination with the following symptoms from the iPhone, likely indicate iPhone spyware:

    • Lack of responsiveness. If your iPhone randomly freezes, takes a long time to respond, starts extra slow or refuses to shut down, this may indicate iPhone spyware. It may also be related to another problem, but iPhone spyware is a likely cause, especially if other symptoms are present.
    • Excessive battery drain. The iPhone does go through battery life quickly, however, it goes through battery life much quicker when spyware is installed. Spyware is constantly monitoring the phone and sending data back "home" which eats up battery life. If you notice your iPhone is suddenly using much more battery life, it may indicate a spyware problem.
    • Increased phone bill. An increased cost in your cell phone bill may indicate many things, including too many sent texts. However, it may also be a sign of iPhone spyware. The spyware applications constantly send data and therefore may increase your cell phone bill if you do not have an unlimited data plan.
    • Increased internet activity. The iPhone utilizes a small icon in the top left to indicate when the iPhone is transferring data. If you see this icon activating randomly while you are not running any internet related application, this may indicate that your iPhone is infected with spyware.

    Take a look at: Unlimited Data Plans with Limits? to learn how you may still incur data charges, even if your plan claims to be unlimited.

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    Removing iPhone Spyware

    As we previously mentioned, there are not any tools to help with detecting iPhone spyware. Similarly, there are not any tools to help with removing iPhone spyware. There are a few new tools which claim to help with removing viruses, however, we have yet to see anything released for iPhone spyware.

    Now that you have learned some tips to help with detecting iPhone spyware, here are some tips to help with removing iPhone spyware. The process is fairly straightforward and there is really not much you can do aside from the below:

    1. Back up data. Back up the basic, necessary information on your iPhone. This means syncing the iPhone with iTunes to back up your contacts, photos, etc. Do not back up your apps at the risk of backing up the spyware as well. iTunes will automatically download your purchased apps later.
    2. Restore the iPhone. Do a complete restore of the iPhone using iTunes. Avoid doing an upgrade or simply clearing the data, this will not likely help. An entire restore will be required to remove any iPhone spyware.

    If you incur problems with the restore or backup of the iPhone in iTunes, you may want to take a look at these articles: