Our phones can touch every part of our lives – while also exposing it to data snatchers or thieves. That’s why it’s important to protect your phone from hackers.
There are many ways to hack your phone. Some don’t even require advanced tech knowledge:
Have you ever wondered “Is my phone hacked?” Here are some signs:
If you suspect that your phone camera was hacked, there are a few more tell-tale signs that someone else is using it remotely. For example, you may notice photos and videos in your gallery that you don’t remember taking. Of course, you can accidentally record something, but if you keep finding new ones, it’s a sign that someone might have control over your camera.
The flash lighting up when you’re not using your phone is another thing to look out for. Both the camera and flash need a lot of resources and battery power. Therefore, if someone is remotely controlling your device, you will notice it getting very hot even when you don’t use it.
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.
It’s also worth considering who might have physical access to your phone. If you have a weak password, someone might have guessed it and might have had total access to your device.
Here’s what to do if your phone has been hacked:
Remember to backup anything important before restoring your iPhone to factory settings.
1. On a device with macOS Catalina 10.15.5 or earlier, connect your phone to your computer.
2. In the Finder on your mac, select your device in the Finder sidebar.
3. Click Trust on your iPhone and enter your passcode.
4. Click Restore iPhone
Remember to backup anything important before restoring your Android to factory settings.
1. Open Settings;
2. Go to General management;
3. Tap Reset;
4. Press Factory data reset;
5. Tap Reset.
To prevent your phone from being hacked, do the following:
Generally, hackers need to establish an online connection with your phone to gain remote control, and this won’t be active while your device is turned off. However, turning your phone off doesn't necessarily mean that it's in a ‘safe-state’, some hacks may persist even after its turned on again; an extra mic or a camera can be hidden in the hardware for example, which is why you’re asked to leave your phone outside when visiting government intelligence or military buildings.
Your phone might not be hacked while it’s off, but that doesn’t mean it’s totally safe. Theoretically, there are three ways hackers could attack you while your device is off:
1. If it was jailbroken: the person who jailbroke your phone could have installed all sorts of malicious bugs on it, like tracking software, spyware or malware. While your phone would have had to be on to be jailbroken, the malware would persist even after you turn your phone on again.
2. If your power button is overwritten: Hackers can overwrite the command for your power button so it goes into low power mode instead of turning off (this would have been initiated while your phone was on). Suppose you take the battery out (difficult with iPhones). A tiny hardware capacitor (a device that stores electric energy) can be installed on your phone giving it a small charge to let all kinds of malicious things continue, even though you think your phone is off. While this hack would have been initiated while your phone was on, it overrides the assumption that your phone is in a safe-state, since you didn’t actually turn it off, even though you think you did.
3. If your number is ported: Technically, this isn’t a device-hack, but this is something a hacker could do, even if your phone is off: Hackers can steal any mobile number and use it as their own, by contacting your provider and requesting a number transfer from an old phone to a new one. With a little social engineering they can start hijacking your accounts one by one, by having a password reset sent to your phone, or by tricking your bank into thinking they’re you when they call customer service. Sometimes, all they need to pass security is your SSN, birthdate or address which they can easily find online with enough diligence – in which case it won’t make a difference if your phone is on or off.
No, not directly. A hacker can call you, pretending to be someone official, and so gain access to your personal details. Armed with that information, they could begin hacking your accounts. But they can’t break into your phone's software and modify it through phone calls alone.
That being said, your phone can be hacked through communication apps with poor security. In 2019 hackers compromised a smartphone with a single Whatsapp phone call. A Whatsapp VOIP vulnerability allowed criminals to manipulate the device and steal data, private messages, and location details. Zero-day bugs or phone-call bugs like these can happen on any platform, and their remedy really does depend on how quickly developers patch the security flaws.
There are security apps that notify you of unusual activity and ensure you’re making use of basic security features like Screen Lock, Face/Touch ID and 2FA. They also offer you tips and tricks to boost your phone security, like periodically rebooting your phone.
Specialized spyware apps are also available; these programs can trawl your phone for hidden malware and help you identify hacks early. But the truth is, proactive prevention is better than trying to counter an attack after it’s occurred. Always update your phone and apps to the latest version, ensuring that you get new security patches in real-time. Use an encrypted password manager to generate strong login credentials, and lock apps individually in case someone cracks your phone’s passcode. Above all, do your own research regularly, so you can choose the most reputable and trustworthy security apps available.
Using a VPN while connected to the internet is vital to staying away from trouble. It masks your IP address and encrypts your traffic, thus enhancing your privacy and security. Since hackers won’t be able to identify you online and monitor what you’re doing on your smartphone, they will have fewer ways to harm you.
But don’t be enticed by free VPNs, as they usually have a hidden agenda behind their complimentary services.
NordVPN is an easy-to-use app designed for both novice and expert users. Not only does it provide you with top-notch encryption, but also blocks suspicious ads and pop-ups, which are a common way to distribute malware. If you’re looking to turn your smartphone into a fortress, a VPN service is the answer.
Enhance your smartphone security and stay safe online.