Our phones contain the major part of our lives. Also, it is a tool we carry daily in our pockets, so it is always exposed to data snatchers or thieves. Thus, the safety measures should be adequate.
Hackers are always sharpening their tools. Here’s how to identify and protect yourself from a phone hack.
How your phone can be hacked
There are various ways to hack your phone. Some don’t even require advanced tech knowledge:
- Sim swap attack. By using this attack, hackers can transfer your phone number to their own SIM card and take over your accounts;
- Spyware that collects your data. Some spy apps are pretty easy to get hold of and can be used by a person without advanced IT knowledge. This lets them remotely monitor your phone activities. A person can install such an app by getting a direct access to your device;
- You might get malicious software via public Wi-Fi networks or charging stations. Hackers can set up fake Wi-Fi networks to redirect you to phishing websites or steal data via USB cable in a charging station;
- Phishing text, Facebook or email messages with malicious links that install malware and snatch your data;
- You might also download malware from suspicious sites while downloading apps or by clicking on unreliable pop-ups or links.
How to know if your phone is hacked
Have you ever wondered “Is my phone hacked?” Here are some signs:
- You notice something you don’t recognize on your phone (e.g., apps, messages you didn’t send, purchases you didn’t make, suspicious phone calls);
- Your phone works slow. It uses way more resources and battery power and becomes hotter than usual. Some hacker-initiated operations might reduce its power significantly;
- Your data usage increases dramatically without any changes on your part. Malicious processes might be consuming your mobile data in the background as they track what you do;
- Your phone behaves strangely. The apps do not run the way they should, it switches on and off unexpectedly, or applications crash or fail to load;
- Pop-ups appear. If you notice lots of pop-ups appearing on your screen, you probably have spyware or malware.
How to find out who hacked your phone
Unless the attack was specifically targeted at you, finding the culprit can be quite difficult. Try checking all the apps you don’t recognize and any suspicious phone numbers or social media accounts that have interacted with you. A quick search might find some associations, but tracking hackers usually requires a cybersecurity expert. It’s usually worth it to report such cases to your local or national law enforcement for further investigation.
What to do if your phone has been hacked
If your phone has been hacked, do the following:
- Change your passwords immediately. You can find out our tips for stronger passwords here;
- Remove all the suspicious software immediately;
- Inform your friends to ignore suspicious messages coming from you;
- Stop broadcasting your personal hotspot when in public as this makes it easier for hackers to breach your device;
- Install mobile security software immediately. It scans for malware and might protect sensitive apps from infection;
- Restore your phone to its factory settings. That might help if tons of pop-ups or malicious apps made your phone impossible to use. This one is a nuclear option, so use it only as a last resort.
How to prevent your phone from being hacked
- Do not transmit your personal hotspot openly when in public. If you do, make sure you’ve made the settings as secure as possible.
- Do not use Wi-FI or charging spots you don’t trust. If you must use public WiFi, never do so without a VPN. Hackers might also establish a fake access point with the name of a genuine network and obtain your data or track you. Always report these dodgy access points to the staff of a place, where your try to connect. Also, don’t forget to disconnect from public Wi-Fi once you’ve stopped using it.
- Switch your Bluetooth off when not using it as it can also be an access point for hackers.
- Lock your phone with a password or lock screen.
- Never leave your phone unobserved and do not let people you don’t know use it.
- Regularly look through the apps on your phone to see if there are any you don’t recognize.
- Do not open suspicious messages, links, or files. They can be malware or spyware in disguise.
- Install anti-malware apps and constantly update your software.
- Use a VPN to protect your online traffic and browse safely and privately.
- Do not use download sites you don’t trust. They are a potential source of malware.
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