How to Spot a Keylogger on Android and iOS Phones

If you like auto-completes, grammar checks, parental controls, and plagiarism detection tools, you can thank keyloggers for all the hard work they do for you.

Keystroke logging software, aka keyloggers, do exactly what it says on the tin: they record keys as you strike them on your keyboard.

And while they’re not necessarily malware, they surely turn into one when they monitor your activity and send it to third parties without your consent.

The bad news is that keyloggers are quite hard to discover on Android and iOS phones. The good news is that I’m here to teach you how to do it.

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How to spot a keylogger on Android and iOS devices

While ransomware or adware are more the in-your-face type of malware, keyloggers are silent watchers, waiting to snoop on important information like credentials or bank details.

They’re also popular with suspicious partners who’d love nothing more than to see what their half is up to secretly.

But there are some tell-tale signs that your phone has a keylogger.

Your phone gets physically hot

Overheating is usually an indicator that something is wrong with your phone. And keyloggers could be the culprit.

If your phone is still hot even after you’ve closed all the apps running in the background, you can start getting suspicious.

The battery drains quickly

When you use your phone a lot, you develop a sixth sense for how long your battery lasts.

If you notice sudden changes in how often you need a charger, take it as a red flag and investigate matters further.

You hear strange background noises

When they get infected with malware, phones can start acting weirdly.

For example, you might hear crackling sounds or something like a TV running in the background at the end of the line.

However, these sounds can be faint enough to go unnoticed.

You receive strange messages

Malware can mess up the core functions of your phone, so you might start receiving:

      • Messages with just characters,
      • Texts that are not supported by your device,
      • Messages with weird shortened links.

Avoid opening them altogether, or at the very least, do not click on the links.

Your phone acts up

Keyloggers can make you question your sanity because of common behaviors like:

      • Your phone turns on and off randomly,
      • Your phone isn’t able to completely shut down,
      • The screen lights up randomly,
      • Instant messaging apps open randomly.

Sure, sometimes all phones seem to have a mind of their own, and overheating and shorter battery lives are common as gadgets get older, but you should pay attention to anything that’s off.

If everything seems OK hardware-wise, you may want to dig deeper and find the issue.

What to do if you find a keylogger on your phone

If you do have enough reason to suspect your device was infected with a keylogger, there are some things you can do.

Check your Downloads folder

Usually, keyloggers are saved locally to monitor your device. They sport inconspicuous names, usually a combination of random characters, with the .APK file extension.

If you find such a file on your phone and don’t remember downloading it, delete it.

Use a good antivirus app

A good antivirus should be able to pick up on the keylogger’s activity and quarantine it. This will protect your phone from further snooping. It’s also recommended you regularly run scans for malware. Get the CyberGhost Security Suite and never worry about viruses ever gain.

Reset your phone to factory settings

Keyloggers can be challenging to deal with and hard to remove from your device.

If all else fails, you can always resort to wiping everything off on your phone. It’s the most effective way to remove malware and surveillance apps, including keyloggers.

Just make sure you back up any important files beforehand.

Protect your phone from keyloggers

Smartphones are a gateway to your digital life, and cybercriminals are aware of the private information trove you got there.

So, you should do your best to protect your device from digital threats like keyloggers.

Here are six pieces of advice for you:

  1. Use antivirus software and regularly run malware scans. Take care of all flagged threats as quickly as possible.
  2. Install CyberGhost VPN to add an extra layer of encryption to your connection. It will also make you harder to track and target. CyberGhost has apps for Android and for iOS phones.
  3. Avoid free public Wi-Fi networks. They usually lack a secure setup and can expose your traffic to malicious actors.
  4. Avoid clicking on suspicious links. Phishing scams are running rampant, and they can easily infect your device with malware.
  5. Protect your device with a password and never leave it unsupervised. It’s child’s play to install a keylogger when you have physical access to an unsecured phone.
  6. Use two-factor authentication (2FA). This can be your last line of defense in case someone does get their hands on your credentials.
 

Have you ever dealt with keyloggers on your phone? How do you keep your device safe now? Let me know in the comments below.

Until next time, stay safe and secure!

Leave a comment

Unfortunately, a family member works in law enforcement…that being said they put spyware on my phone that they are able to install on a new phone by only knowing your new number. I live with them so they have unnecessary access to my phone. I am keeping my old phone to communicate with them and getting a new phone for privacy. Do I need to get a lockbox for my new phone to keep their hands off of it? I also am not going to use the family internet so the phone will not be visible. Any other suggestions/ help very much appreciated.

Reply

Hi Paula. Sorry to hear about your situation. Unfortunately, it’s a bit hard to say what you can do based off such few details. For general tips, check out our spyware detection and prevention guide. For more details try researching more on the exact strain of spyware you have. Good luck! (edited)

Great article, it’s the first one I came across that explains what to look out for to experience keyloggers behavior, and steps to take in good order, thank you.

What about virtual machines? Can you offer any tips on using something like that when Interacting with sensitive info you want to protect, such as banking or crypto? I would prefer to use a clean environment I can repeatedly wipe easily to login to institutions.

Reply

Glad to hear you found the article useful, Hayman. While we don’t mention virtual machines specifically, this article might help with some information.

Thank you. Here’s an issue I’ve run into:

I’ve suspected an ex put stalkerware on my devices to gain access to iCloud backups. I just found this on my Mac in the iCloud keychain and the system keychain:

Keystroke_tracker.exe.

Any ideas where this came from?

Reply

Hi Kate,

An .exe file shouldn’t be able to run on macOS devices, so it seems a bit odd. Also keyloggers usually hide inconspicuously under names like system.update or such. Did you notice any other signs, like someone tempering with your accounts or your browsing history? Any suspicious login attempts? Is your device overheating? When was the file added/modified in Keychain? Can you modify it at all?
It would be best to run a full scan with your antivirus, and see if the file gets flagged. Keyloggers are often introduced to your device through another malware, like trojan or adware, so keep a close eye to any signs of malware infection. You should also get in touch with your antivirus support for them to check in their malware database, and advise you further.

Glad to hear you enjoyed reading, Ryan.

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