How To Tell If My Phone Is Hacked?
From email communication to banking transactions, we rely on our smartphones for all kinds of tasks. They have fast replaced computers as the primary mode of computation and day-to-day tasks for most of the public. However, their widespread use has also resulted in an upsurge in hacking attempts.
Despite best efforts, malware ends up leeching on smartphones. According to a 2020 report, over half of mobile apps end up “hiding” on their host devices, fulfilling malicious agendas such as displaying unwanted ads, bogus reviews, and information theft.
With frequent Android and iPhone updates – the two dominant smartphone operating systems, you would expect hacking to be a thing of the past. Still, in another damning 2020 malware report, it was revealed that the prevalence of aggressive adware and preinstalled malware is on the rise.
What Is Hacking?
Hacking can include any activity that is meant to compromise your digitally connected devices. For instance, computers, smartphones, or even entire networks. On the other hand, malware may include any malicious programs that monitor your device, usage of your device to send spam or phishing screens aimed at stealing your login info.
How Can You Get Hacked – Common Ways?
Do you suspect, “my phone is hacked”? here are the most common ways you can lose access to your device or get hacked:
1- Fake WI-FI Hotspots
Cybercriminals may set up open, unencrypted WI-FI hotspots at locations where people usually use such public WI-FI such as cafés and delis. Upon connecting to such a hotspot, you may be directed to phishing websites to steal your log-in data.
You may a phishing message through email, text or even social media. It could contain malicious links or files intended to download malware on your system.
3- Corrupt USBs
Hackers also rely on public USB charging stations to install malware on your phone.
Spyware are apps that hide on your system and spy on all your activities while also actively stealing your information.
5-SS7 and IMSI hacks
SS7 and IMSI hacks are some of the most sophisticated methods to exploit vulnerabilities and some of the oldest ones too by using your mobile network.
My phone is hacked! Signs That Should Serve As Red Flags
Here are a few signs that might indicate suspicious activity and confirm your suspicion that my phone is hacked:
1- Mobile is slowing down
You will notice that your phone begins lagging or certain apps start crashing, which happens when the malware overloads the phone or begins to interfere with other apps installed.
2- Significant Decrease In Battery Life
A compromised phone will display a noticeable decrease in battery life – more than usual because the malware uses the phone’s resources to transmit information, draining the battery in the process.
3- Device is heating up for no reason
Sudden heating up of the device for no reason may be an indication that malware is running in the background. Or hackers could be utilizing your phone’s resources to mine cryptocurrency.
4- Your Friends Receive Messages You Never Sent
You could be used by the malware to send emails, instant messages, and text messages to spread itself to your acquaintance. The messages would be sent in your name and contain a link or file to infect other devices.
5- Unusual Spike in data usage
Another significant sign of a phone-hacking is an unusual increase in the usage of data on a weekly or monthly basis, arising out of the transmission of data by the malware app.
6- Apps you did not install
You may notice newer apps that have gotten installed on your phone without your knowledge, indicating the presence of spyware.
7- Anti-Virus Uninstalled
Powerful viruses tend to protect themselves by uninstalling anti-viruses.
8- Change in the phone settings
Your phone settings can be remotely changed by hackers to suit their agenda.
9- Pop-Ups Out of Nowhere
Although pop-ups don’t necessarily point out towards a phone hacking, it could indicate that the phone has adware – a form of malware that makes the devices view web pages to increase their traffic and drive revenue through clicks.
10- Suspicious Activity Relating To Digital/Social Media Accounts
If someone other than you has gained access to your phone, they may have also gained access to all your accounts, including social media, email, and other apps that have your information. Resultantly, you will witness an increase in activity such as password being reset, emails sent, sign-ups to new accounts, and more. Consider changing all your passwords and setting up 2-factor authentication to say safe in such a scenario.
How To Fix Your Phone: Actions To Take After Finding Out My phone is hacked
After experiencing any or all of these symptoms, if you are sure that your suspicions of getting hacked might be true, here are some of the things that you can do about it:
1- Run scans
Run anti-virus and malware scans on your device to identify and remove the virus.
2- Check the news
Check out the reputable tech sites for news or announcements pertaining to emerging threats and learn about ways to eradicate them.
3- Remove unrecognizable apps
Immediately uninstall any apps you may have installed without the official app store.
4- Get Professional Help
Sometimes, expert knowledge is required to make a hacker go away. Show your phone to an IT professional for in-depth diagnosis and mitigation.
5- Master Rest
Deleting everything on the phone and starting afresh is the last but a really viable option. You can wipe your device’s storage by restoring the factory settings to ensure that any malware goes away for good.
6- Change the Passwords
Change passwords relating to your email, social media accounts, and any other devices but use another device instead of the one that is compromised.
How To Stay Protected From Malware And Hackers?
Here are some of the ways you can ensure future protection from any malware and hackers so that you don’t end up wondering if :
1- Get a VPN
You should go for a reliable VPN service to encrypt the outgoing and incoming data and save it from being intercepted. A VPN encrypts all your data traffic which is why any data intercepted by the hackers becomes useless for them.
2- Get an antivirus
In case you experience all of the symptoms mentioned above, the best course of action to take is to install a mobile anti-virus to make it go away immediately.
3- Avoid Public WI-FI
Do not use Public WI-FI hotspots and rely on mobile data at all times.
4- Don’t Click On Links You Don’t Trust
Do not open any link or file sent via email, social media or any other source, if you don’t trust it.
5- Only Download Apps From The App Store
Make it a rule to only download trusted apps from the Google or Apple store and not any other platform.
We hope we have covered every aspect of identifying a hacked phone. In case, we missed something, or you want to know more, let us know in the comments below.