Can you stop someone from mirroring your phone?

Tips & tricks
7 mins

Phone mirroring, a process where your smartphone’s screen and actions are shown on another device, can be a powerful tool for presentations, education, and troubleshooting. However, in the wrong hands, it poses a significant privacy risk. 

When your device is mirrored, everything on your screen is shown on another screen. This could be done intentionally, such as if you want to enlarge the contents on your phone by showing it on your TV screen. Mirroring could also be done as a form of attack to see everything you’re doing on your phone.

Unauthorized mirroring can expose sensitive information, personal messages, and even your passwords.

Can someone mirror your phone without you knowing?

Yes, it is possible for cybercriminals to mirror your phone without your consent. However, it’s not very common or easy to achieve. It can be done through spyware or malware downloaded inadvertently by the user, physical access to the device, or even man-in-the-middle attacks. Mirroring makes everything on your screen available to the attackers, which immediately threatens your privacy.

How to tell if someone is mirroring your phone

In many cases, it’s going to be difficult to tell if someone is mirroring your phone without your consent.

The most obvious way to tell is if your phone’s mirroring functionality is turned on and connected to a different device—and you weren’t aware of it.

But if your device has been compromised with malware (or spyware), allowing someone to see everything you’re doing, it might not be as obvious. In such cases, you’ll have to notice strange behavior of your phone, like decreased battery life, increased data usage, or abnormal screen activity. You might also find that someone knows a lot about you when they shouldn’t, including messages you’ve been sending or websites you’ve been browsing.

How can someone mirror your phone?

Mirroring a phone involves displaying its content on another device in real-time. This can happen in several ways, each requiring varying levels of access to your device:

  • Screen sharing apps. Legitimate applications designed for screen sharing can be misused. If someone gains access to your phone, they can install such an app and view your screen remotely.
  • Spyware. Malicious software designed to operate stealthily can be installed on your device. This software can capture your screen, among other private data, and send it to a third party without your consent.
  • Network interception. Attackers can exploit public or unsecured Wi-Fi networks to intercept data transmitted from your phone, including screen activity, if proper encryption isn’t used. This is called a man-in-the-middle attack.
  • Physical access. Direct physical access to your device can allow someone to set up mirroring or monitoring tools. This is more straightforward but requires the attacker to have temporary control over your device.
  • Phishing attacks. By tricking you into clicking malicious links or downloading compromised applications, attackers can gain control over your phone, including screen mirroring capabilities.

Risks of unauthorized phone mirroring

You may still be wondering how bad unauthorized phone mirroring can really be. Unauthorized phone mirroring exposes you to various risks, from personal privacy breaches to financial fraud. Let’s get into some of them.

Loss of privacy

If someone mirrors your phone, every message you send, every photo you view, and every app you interact with can be monitored remotely. This means confidential conversations, private photos, and sensitive information are no longer just yours.

Compromised passwords

As you type or access passwords on your device, a third party will also see them, potentially revealing your login credentials. This can extend to email, social media, banking, and any other secured service you use on your phone. 

Lowered physical safety

If you use a map application such as Google Maps, someone looking at your screen will also know where you are and where you want to go. Any address you’ve searched can be paired with any messages you exchange with people you’ll meet, and an attacker will know your current and future location.

How to stop someone from mirroring your phone

To prevent unauthorized phone mirroring for both iPhone and Android devices, there are several measures you can take. 

How to stop phone mirroring on iPhone

Disable mirroring

Mirroring on iPhone is called AirPlay, and you can ensure it is turned off. 

1. Open Control Center by swiping down the screen from the top right corner and tap the Screen Mirroring button. Note that it may or may not say “Screen Mirroring” according to your layout, but it will always have two overlapping rectangles.

2. Tap on Stop Mirroring. 

Delete any sketchy apps

Check your phone for apps that could be spying on you. It’s important that you follow the method below and don’t just review your home screens, because some apps might not have an icon there.

1. Open your app library by swiping left on your home screen. If you have many icons on your home screen, it could take a few swipes.

2. Go through the entire list of apps. If you see any that you suspect are malicious or would otherwise like to remove, tap and hold the icon and select Delete App.

Factory reset your iPhone

If you still have doubts about whether your screen is still being mirrored via malicious software, you could reset it to factory settings. Note that this will delete all your content, so make sure you have a backup of your important information. To reset your iPhone, follow these steps:

1. Open Settings, and then choose General.

2. Scroll down and choose Transfer or Reset iPhone

3. Now choose Erase All Content and Settings at the bottom of your screen.

How to stop phone mirroring on Android

Disable mirroring

The first line of defense should be to disable mirroring. The functionality is called something different on various Android devices. In Samsung phones, it’s called Smart View. Go to the setting in your phone, and you’ll see any devices that you may connect to. Ensure no devices are mirroring your phone.

Manually delete any suspicious apps

Carefully review your installed apps and delete any that you don’t recognize by following these steps:

  1. Open the Google Play Store.
  2. Tap your profile icon at the top right.
  3. Choose Manage apps and devices.
  4. Tap Manage.
  5. Carefully scroll through the list, and select the apps you want to delete.
  6. Click on Uninstall.

Factory reset your phone

While extremely effective, remember that resetting your phone will delete all your content, so ensure you have a recent backup.

  1. Open Settings
  2. Go to General management.
  3. Tap on Reset.
  4. Select Factory data reset and then press Reset.
  5. Enter your security pattern (or PIN).
  6. Press Delete all.

Reinstall your OS

Reinstalling the OS goes one step further than resetting to factory settings by loading a completely new image from another source. If you’re an advanced user, you could connect your phone to your computer and flash it.

How to prevent unwanted phone mirroring 

Preventing unauthorized access and mirroring of your phone requires a proactive approach to security. Here are key strategies to safeguard your device:

  • Keep your OS updated. Regularly update your phone’s operating system. Updates often include security patches that address vulnerabilities.
  • Be cautious with apps. Only download apps from trusted sources like the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Regularly review app permissions and uninstall any not in use or raise suspicion.
  • Be alert to phishing attempts. Be wary of giving away your information to attackers pretending to be trusted organizations.
  • Secure your Wi-Fi connections. Avoid using public Wi-Fi without protection. Download a reputable VPN service such as ExpressVPN to encrypt your data transmission on public networks.
  • Disable features not in use. Turn off Bluetooth, NFC, and other wireless connections when not in use to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Regularly monitor your phone’s activity. Pay attention to your phone’s performance, battery life, and data usage for signs of unauthorized activity.
  • Use screen locking features. Enable features like automatic screen lock and facial recognition or fingerprint scanning to prevent unauthorized physical access to your device.
  • Review connected devices. Regularly review the list of devices connected to your accounts and remove any that you don’t recognize or no longer use.
  • Don’t jailbreak or root your phone. You could change the security features put in place by Apple and other companies by trying to modify your phone.
  • Avoid charging your devices in public places. It’s become increasingly common for attackers to use public USB charging points and cables to install malware on devices.
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