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Risks of Disabling Android Security for Spy App Functionality

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Android surveillance apps are a useful way to keep track of your child’s smartphone activity. For parents who worry about what their child is doing on their smartphone, these apps can offer very real peace of mind.

The problem is that Android spy apps require you to disable anti-virus software and specific operating system security features before you can track the phone’s GPS location, social media messages, text messages, internet browsing history, photos, and much more.

Let’s take a look at the settings that must be disabled and the risk associated with each.

Google Play Protect

Google Play Protect monitors and checks the apps on your device for potentially harmful behavior. As a result you will not find any Android spyware on the Google Play platform. Before you download any app to your Android phone, Play Protect runs a safety check to ensure it is safe.

It also periodically scans your device for harmful apps or malware. Once found it will:

  • Notify you and give you a button to uninstall the app
  • Automatically disable the app until you choose to uninstall it.
  • Remove the harmful app automatically. You will then get a notification saying the app was removed.

Risks of Disabling Play Protect

Disabling Play Protect means the phone is no longer protected from malicious apps or malware. So if your child (or target user) downloads a potentially harmful app from the Play Store or another website, the phone will not analyze it for malicious code. It will allow it to run without stopping it.

Anti-Virus Software

Just about any anti-virus software on the market will identify a spy app as a harmful or malicious file. This includes Norton, Kaspersky, Avast, and AVG. This is because the spy app is designed to pull information from other apps, which is not typically allowed.

Risks of Disabling Ant-Virus Software

Anti-virus software like Kaspersky sees spy apps as a threat, so these spying apps must be excluded from virus and app scans. As long as you are using one of the more trusted Android spy app brands this shouldn’t be an issue.

But some free spy apps (and even some poorly programmed spyware) have been known to contain malicious code that can steal sensitive user information from the phone.

When you disable the anti-virus software on the target phone it opens it up to viruses and other malicious apps or spyware.

Smartphones are not typically as vulnerable as computers, but there are certainly software applications out there that can take advantage of an unprotected device.

Rooting Android Devices

Most spy apps for the Android operating system do not require you to root the device for full functionality. But some apps like FlexiSPY offer advanced spying features like call interception and call recording.

These features require a phone to be rooted before the features will work properly.

Risks of Rooting an Android

In addition to voiding the warranty, rooting opens the operating system up to apps with malicious code. Here are a few of the risks associated with rooting an Android phone

  • malware can more easily loaded onto the device
  • you could potentially break (or brick) your phone
  • void your warrant

The last item is only an issue if you are not willing to factory reset your device before getting it serviced under warranty. Once you’ve factory reset the phone, the manufacturer has no way of knowing if it was rooted or not.

Other Potential Vulnerabilities

In addition to the risks involved in disabling the security of your Android device, many spy apps have serious security vulnerabilities.

Data Breaches

mSpy is one of the most popular spy apps in the world. They take great precautions to protect their customer data. But mSpy’s servers have been hacked on two different occasions.

This resulted in millions of files of customer phone data being exposed to hackers. This included anything from pictures and messages to saved credit card data.

Poorly Designed App Security

Spy software makers all claim to take security very seriously, but many of them fail miserably at this important task.

In a study performed by We Live Security, over 40 spy apps were analyzed to see how they handled highly sensitive phone data. Most of the apps they analyzed had glaring holes in their security.

These ranged from using insecure transmission protocols, to leaving customer data exposed on their servers. It is well worth going with one of the trust names in spyware.

About the Author

Jason has over 25 years in the information and internet security industry. He is passionate about smartphones, gadgets, and technology. He also got a solid background in programming and software.  This includes Python, C++, app development and more.

jason thompson