1. GarnetUniverse's Avatar
    Hi,
    so I was recently given a Samsung Galaxy Note3 as a gift. Knowing the person giving it to me and the things they do, I immediately checked it for spyware and found they had installed "The Truth Spy App" onto the phone. Now, I quite like this phone and I would like to continue using it---just without him secretly taking pictures of me, videos, voice recordings, monitoring my calls, messages and contacts, and just being an overall creepy pervert.

    I tried to do a factory reset, but it simply would not happen. I went
    Settings > General> Backup and Reset > Factory Data Reset
    but when I tapped "ERASE EVERYTHING" nothing happened. It clearly showed that it had registered the tap, the button darkened and then went back to being "unpressed" with no further response. Nothing.

    Is it possible that the spy app is not allowing me to wipe the phone clean or is something wrong with my phone? Are there any other means of deleting everything on it?
    Any suggestions would be massively appreciated.
    07-16-2015 11:28 AM
  2. anon8380037's Avatar
    Hello. Try these three things:
    Go to Settings - General - Security - Device Administrators and see if that app or anything suspicious has privileges. Uncheck it.
    Android Device Manager there is Google's lost device location service and Samsung has one too.

    Also change your Google account password on a pc after resetting your Note 3 as per below, or open a new account with a different Gmail address entirely.

    Best to factory reset the device as you say, so you can also do that by turning it off and holding the Volume Up + Power + Home buttons together, scrolling to 'factory data reset' with the volume buttons and select with the Power button. Then follow the safeguards that protect accidental selection.
    See here:
    [Guide] [Info] Custom recoveries versus Stock. Is there a difference?

    You don't need to do the first one probably, but it might be preventing resetting via the Settings menu.
    GarnetUniverse likes this.
    07-16-2015 01:05 PM
  3. GarnetUniverse's Avatar
    Thank you! I managed to factory reset my device!
    It doesn't seem like the spyware is still on it, but do you know of any ways I can be absolutely sure? I still don't feel very safe about using it, honestly. Or would be impossible for it to still be on the phone?
    anon8380037 likes this.
    07-16-2015 02:35 PM
  4. anon8380037's Avatar
    Welcome to Android Central.

    As far as I know it would not be possible to have anything other than the operating system and Samsung software left in the device storage.

    I will ask site Ambassador Rukbat to put your mind at rest for sure. He has decades of software knowledge.
    07-16-2015 03:47 PM
  5. Rukbat's Avatar
    If you had the ROM reflashed (you'd lose everything, so back everything up - emails, texts, etc., but not apps - they could be where the spyware is. Emails are easy - email them to a different Google account, then after the ROM is reflashed, email them to the account on the phone. They'll look like they came from you, but you'll have the text of the emails. Pictures, music, videos, documents - if he knows enough to embed spyware apps in those, check your microwave and clock radio too - that takes YEARS of experience, even to know what embedding things in a picture is called (or a good knowledge of how to use Google to search for the word).

    For texts, back them up with SMS Backup & Restore and restore them after the reflash. (You probably won't be able to read the backup, but it's plain text - there can't be any spyware in it.)

    As for the reflash, actually flashing a Note 3 (I have one and I can't remember how many times I've flashed ROMs to it, but it's more than the number of toes and fingers my wife and I have combined) - your carrier would probably flash the phone if you asked their repair people nicely, explaining why you wanted it.

    (And it's not that many decades - only 43 years. And about 20 years of hardware design before that. But what's 63 years? The combined expertise of Google is probably in the large number of centuries.)
    07-16-2015 04:09 PM
  6. anon8380037's Avatar
    If you had the ROM reflashed (you'd lose everything, so back everything up - emails, texts, etc., but not apps - they could be where the spyware is. Emails are easy - email them to a different Google account, then after the ROM is reflashed, email them to the account on the phone. They'll look like they came from you, but you'll have the text of the emails. Pictures, music, videos, documents - if he knows enough to embed spyware apps in those, check your microwave and clock radio too - that takes YEARS of experience, even to know what embedding things in a picture is called (or a good knowledge of how to use Google to search for the word).

    For texts, back them up with SMS Backup & Restore and restore them after the reflash. (You probably won't be able to read the backup, but it's plain text - there can't be any spyware in it.)

    As for the reflash, actually flashing a Note 3 (I have one and I can't remember how many times I've flashed ROMs to it, but it's more than the number of toes and fingers my wife and I have combined) - your carrier would probably flash the phone if you asked their repair people nicely, explaining why you wanted it.

    (And it's not that many decades - only 43 years. And about 20 years of hardware design before that. But what's 63 years? The combined expertise of Google is probably in the large number of centuries.)
    So is a factory reset in Recovery Mode, as the OP has just done, clean enough?

    Would she really need to have it re-flashed (Operating System re-installed) by a store?

    It was a recent new gift so backups are not an issue. It wouldn't reset for the OP via the settings before this thread.

    Thanks Rukbat.
    07-16-2015 04:14 PM
  7. anon8380037's Avatar
    Thank you! I managed to factory reset my device!
    It doesn't seem like the spyware is still on it, but do you know of any ways I can be absolutely sure? I still don't feel very safe about using it, honestly. Or would be impossible for it to still be on the phone?
    @GarnetUniverse - I believe Rukbat is saying that if you want, if it's a carrier phone, they would normally be happy to re-install it for you. I had it done myself on a previous phone within an hour at a store for another reason, or a reputable repair store can "re-flash" it for you inexpensively.
    That's to be absolutely clear of doubt, but personally I think you have done enough.

    You can ask here for further information if you wish.
    GarnetUniverse likes this.
    07-16-2015 05:05 PM
  8. GarnetUniverse's Avatar
    Thank you both so much!
    I doubt he has more spyware on the phone, honestly. He forgot to delete downloads for "The Truth Spy" app from the downloads folder before giving it to me, which is what confirmed my initial suspicions that he would attempt something like this, so he clearly isn't very good at covering his tracks.
    That having been said, he can be quite tricky, so I really can never be too sure. I know of multiple Samsung outlets, however, so maybe someone in one of those could give me a hand.

    Once again, thank you both for your help!
    anon8380037 likes this.
    07-16-2015 07:48 PM
  9. anon8380037's Avatar
    You're welcome and I hope you start to enjoy the Note 3. I had one and regret selling it. Rukbat has one as his main device I gather.

    He says flashing/installing a new ROM (containing the Android OS, Samsung's layers and any carrier ware) is the sure fire way (it wipes the drive I guess). You could run it for a while first, and it should be fine - though you would have the inconvenience of starting again if you later want to re-install.
    If they can do it for you conveniently now, why not. Good luck.
    07-16-2015 08:38 PM

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