a phone screen reflected in a handheld mirror

You don’t have to have watched Person of Interest to be worried about someone mirroring your mobile phone. Ideally, you wouldn’t broadcast everything you do on your smartphone to some third party. And that’s what phone mirroring is — broadcasting what you see on your phone to someone else. This, of course, can reveal sensitive information, from the contents of your chats to your passwords as you type them. But before you can clean out this infestation, you must first notice the signs.

Table of contents

    How to tell if someone is spying on your phone

    Hackers don’t leave a sticky note saying “lmao ur phone haxxed fr fr no cap,” so you have to look for other signs that your phone has been hacked and mirrored:

    Regular phone behavior
    Suspicious phone behavior
    Account activity
    Regular logins from known devices
    Weird logins and suspicious activity on Google, Facebook, or iCloud accounts
    Occasional ads or notifications from trusted apps
    Fake virus alerts and unwanted messages
    Phone speed
    Consistent performance, occasional slowdowns with heavy usage
    Random slowdowns (which could indicate mirroring)
    Scheduled updates or manual reboots
    Unwanted reboots without prior indication
    Smooth shutdown process
    Long or troubled shutdowns (sometimes prevented completely by spy apps)
    Email delivery
    Emails sent and received without issues
    Spam emails sent from your account, blocked or marked as spam by recipients
    Screen activity
    Expected screen light-ups because of notifications or when in use
    Random screen light-ups (possibly indicating hacker processes running)
    No interference with other devices unless during a call
    Interference with other devices (possibly transmitting data to the hacker)
    Call noises
    Clear calls without unexpected noises
    Taps, static noise, echo, or other noises
    Text messages
    Standard texts and emojis
    Unusual texts with strange symbols or character combos
    Battery performance
    Regular battery discharge based on usage
    Rapid battery discharge or idle heat-up (possibly due to spy apps)
    App permissions
    Only apps from trusted sources like the Google Play Store or Apple App Store are allowed
    Third-party Android apps with suspicious permissions

    The risks and consequences of phone mirroring

    Phone mirroring: how bad could that be? Fairly bad! If you’ve never thought about what someone could do if they always spied on your smartphone’s screen, here are some risks: 

    • No more privacy: we communicate via chat messages a lot. By mirroring your screen, hackers can read every message you send and receive. This goes for emails as well!
    • Compromised passwords: ever turned on the feature to show the passwords in the field? Have you noticed that the keyboard shows the buttons tapped? If hackers mirror your phone, they could see your typed passwords and steal them. 
    • Your photos revealed: if you watch a photo or a video on your phone, whoever is mirroring your phone can see them as well. They can screenshot them for blackmail, geolocation, or other nefarious purposes. 
    • Your location and your plans made public: on a mirrored phone, hackers can see you using Google Maps, so they’ll know where you are and where you’ll be. And if you also discussed your plans with anyone via texts, welp. 

    You should take proactive measures to prevent these dreadful things from coming to pass. But we’re not leaving you out to dry on this — here are some tips on how to stop someone from mirroring your phone. 

    How to stop someone from mirroring your phone

    To stop phone mirroring, you should follow steps similar to removing a common virus. We’ll start with essential advice that is important no matter whether you own an Android or iOS device.  

    • Run an antivirus scan. To see if you have an infection, start by running an antivirus scan. A lot of trustworthy apps are available on your phone’s app store (and Surfshark One users have access to Surfshark Antivirus). So make sure your antivirus is updated and run a full system scan. 
    • Enable 2FA on your accounts. Set up two-factor authentication for your important apps, especially those with access to your banking. Having 2FA that relies on getting another device instead of just receiving an email or message on the phone is key. This way, you will foil hacker attempts to use mirroring.
    • Change your passwords. Assume that any password you use on a mirrored Android phone is in the hands of hackers. Change your passwords on another device (not your mirrored phone) to prevent hackers from stealing the new passwords. 
    • Inform your contacts. Tell your friends and relatives that you had a hacking issue. This way, they’ll know to be extra careful about any strange links they may receive from you. 

    How to stop phone mirroring on Android

    Here are the steps you can take if you own an Android device: 

    Disable Screencasting 

    It is unlikely that hackers are using the Screencasting function to spy on your phone. 

    Nevertheless, you can try this procedure: 

    1. Go to Settings via the swipe-down menu. 
    2. Type “cast” into the search bar.
    3. Tap Screencasting.
    4. Disconnect from any devices you’re connected to. 

    The exact steps may be different depending on the Android version and manufacturer. 

    If you have the Google Chrome browser app, check whether Chromecast is turned on — it shouldn’t be on normally, so turn it off.

    Manually delete any suspicious apps 

    1. Go to Settings.
    2. Tap Applications.
    3. Find either Manage Applications or Running Services.
    4. Check for suspicious apps. 
      • Don’t know whether the app is legitimate or not? Google the name to see what the experts say about it!
    5. Delete any suspicious/unknown apps. 

    Delete any apps the good old manual way 

    1. Find My Files or an equivalent file browser app on your device.
    2. Access Internal storage (phone or SD).
    3. Tap Android.
    4. Tap Data.
    5. Browse around for folders with suspicious names. 
      • Google the names you don’t recognize to see whether they have been reported as tied to hacking.
    6. Delete any offending folders. 

    Remove administrator access

    You can also check which apps have administrator access to your phone — there shouldn’t be many.

    1. Go to Settings.
    2. Tap on the Lock screen and security.
    3. Find Other security settings at the very bottom.
    4. Tap Device Administrators.
    5. Check if all apps that have access are legitimate.

    Clear your phone’s cache 

    See if there are any leftover infections by deleting the cache. Here’s how the process goes:

    1. Turn off your phone. 
    2. Hold the Power button and Volume up (depending on the model, you might need to use the Volume down or Volume up + Home at the same time) and engage the Recovery mode.
    3. Wait for the No Command message to show up.
    4. Hold the Power button and press Volume up once.
    5. Use the Volume controls to navigate to the Recovery mode menu and find the Wipe cache partition
    6. Select it by using the Power button and confirm that you want to wipe it.
    7. Restart the phone!

    Factory reset your phone 

    Factory reset wipes out everything on your phone, restoring the software to its initial state. Here’s how you do it on Android (before starting, make sure the phone is well-charged or hooked to the charger): 

    1. Enter the Settings menu. 
    2. Navigate to General management.
    3. Tap Reset.
    4. Choose Factory data reset.
    5. Press Reset.
    6. Enter the security pattern (or PIN).
    7. Press Delete all.
    8. Wait for the process to end.

    Note: the steps you need to take may vary depending on your device’s or Android version’s make. 

    Reinstall your OS

    Some hackers try to secure their malware with “Factory Reset Detection” which preserves it even after factory resets. And if a malicious app has root access, you’ll need to perform a clean OS install on your phone. This is best done by a trained professional — you can find them at any good phone repair store. 

    How to stop phone mirroring on iPhone

    Stop Mirroring

    Mirroring — the system capability of casting your phone to a TV — is unlikely to be used to spy on you. But you can still deactivate it:

    1. Open Control Center on your iPhone.
    2. Tap Screen Mirroring.
    3. Tap Stop Mirroring.

    If you have the Google Chrome browser app, check whether Chromecast is turned on — if it is, turn it off.

    Delete any sketchy apps

    Check your app library for apps you can’t recognize and delete them. If you don’t know if the app is malicious, google it!

    1. On Home Screen, swipe left until you reach the App Library.
    2. Touch and hold the app in the App Library.
    3. Tap Delete App.
    4. Tap Delete.

    Factory reset on an iPhone

    Before performing a factory reset, it’s a good idea to back up your files on iCloud. You will be prompted with a suggestion to do so as soon as you start the factory reset process.

    1. Go to Settings.
    2. Select General.
    3. Tap Transfer or Reset iPhone.
    4. Tap the Erase All Content and Settings option.
    5. Enter your Apple ID password.
    6. Wait for the phone to reset. 

    How to prevent my phone from being mirrored in the future

    There are several online hygiene practices you should follow to prevent future mirroring: 

    • Keep it updated: phone OS and various app updates happen often come with patches for security gaps;
    • Use antivirus software: both Android and iPhone devices benefit from an antivirus (like Surfshark Antivirus);
    • Only install apps you trust: unsupported apps on Android devices or jailbroken iPhones (with software restrictions removed) are a lot more vulnerable to hacks;
    • Keep an eye on your phone: set a password for unlocking your screen, lock your screen, and don’t leave it unattended;
    • Be cautious online: dodgy websites and shady email attachments or links can be dangerous. Don’t tap anything that looks suspicious;
    • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN): VPNs offer some protection from suspicious links and often come with additional tools like antivirus. 

    These steps will significantly improve your phone’s security and protect it from getting mirrored.

    In conclusion: phone mirroring is a menace

    Having your sensitive personal data transmitted to some hacker’s screen can lead to financial trouble, privacy violations, and other nastiness — you should take all the measures to avoid that. So, how about starting with a VPN?

    To help you make up your mind, we have Surfshark reviewed so you know what benefits you’ll get.

    Make your phone feel more secure with a VPN
    A VPN app can protect your phone from online threats and improve your browsing.


    Can you stop someone from mirroring your phone?

    Yes, you can stop phone mirroring by disabling screen casting, deleting suspicious apps and files, running antivirus, and, if all else fails, doing a factory reset and reinstalling the OS. 

    Can someone mirror your phone without you knowing it?

    Yes, hackers can install malware that will mirror your phone without alerting you. For example, you may have downloaded a file infected with malware, and it started mirroring your phone. 

    How do I know if my phone is screen mirroring? 

    There are multiple signs of screen mirroring: your phone battery discharging faster, an increase in your mobile data use, phone interference when you’re not calling anyone, difficulty shutting down the phone, and random screen light-ups when you aren’t using it.