Phone hacking is becoming pretty common these days. Experts believe that one should not waste much time if the phone appears to have been hacked. The hackers can use this time to copy all the data and dupe you of many things in a very short period of time.
If your phone is showcasing one of the following unusual signs – and especially if it’s displaying more than one – there’s a fair chance that it may be hacked.
Strange or inappropriate pop-ups/notifications: Bright, flashing ads or X-rated content popping up on your phone may indicate malware or some kind of phishing attack.
Texts or calls not made by you: If you notice text or calls from your phone that you didn’t make, your phone may be hacked or under someone else’s secret surveillance.
Higher than normal data usage: There are many reasons for high data usage (for example, increased use of a new app). But, if your phone usage has stayed the same and your data usage has skyrocketed, it’s time to investigate and get alert.
Apps you don’t recognize on your phone: Keep in mind that new phones often come with pre-downloaded apps. But if you notice new apps popping up once you already own the phone, there may be malware involved and somebody else has the key to your phone too.
Battery draining quickly: If your phone utilisation habits have remained the same, but your battery is draining more quickly than normal, hacking may be the culprit.
How can your phone be hacked?
Hackers can get access to your phone in several ways, but almost all ways require some kind of action on your part. For example, your phone can be hacked if you have:
1. Downloaded a malicious app
To avoid downloading an app that may be embedded or internalised with malware, only select apps from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.
You should also confirm that the developer listed for the app is correct. For example, the developer for the Gmail app should only be listed as Google LLC.
And lastly, read the app reviews that are extremely important. The majority of the reviews should be positive.
2. Clicked on a malicious link
If you receive an email or text from a sender you don’t know, avoid clicking any included links or downloading any attachments. There’s a chance they may include malware, which might result into hacking.
If you are browsing the web and come across a link you think may be suspicious, plug it into a site scanner like Norton Safe Web before clicking on it.
3. Used unsecured public Wi-Fi
Using your phone to browse on public Wi-Fi can increase the chances of your phone being vulnerable to cyber attacks. To keep your connections safer, use a VPN (virtual private network) for encryption and online privacy.
What should you do if your phone is hacked?
If you’ve determined that your phone has been hacked, there are some steps you can take to address it. Before you start, the best-recommended step is letting your contacts know that your phone has been hacked, and that they shouldn’t click any suspicious-looking links they may have received from you. Here are more steps that you can take.
Delete suspicious apps
As you’re now aware, downloading a suspicious app is a common way to invite malware onto your phone. If you find that your phone has been hacked, take an inventory of your apps and delete anything that came from a third-party source (in other words, not the Apple App Store or the Google Play store). Confirm that any recently downloaded apps came from reputable developers and have good reviews. If they don’t, delete them from your phone.
Run anti-malware software
Anti-malware software can help you identify and target malware lurking on your phone. You should run this regularly, but if you haven’t done so before, now is a good time to start.
Reset your phone
The majority of malware can be removed with a factory reset of your phone. This will, however, wipe any data stored on your device, such as photos, notes, and contacts, so it is important to back-up this data before resetting your device.
Change your password regularly
It’s possible that your login information was compromised when your phone was hacked. Once you’ve removed the malware, reset all of your passwords and create unique passwords for each account.
How can you keep your smartphone secure?
- Avoid downloading apps by diligently vetting apps, checking suspicious links before clicking them, and steering clear of public Wi-Fi. Here are some more ways you can keep your phone secure.
- Avoid storing sensitive information (like credit card numbers) on your phone. Or, store them in a secure app.
- Turn off Bluetooth when you’re not using it.
- Create a custom passcode for accessing your phone.
- Help protect your phone by installing the latest software updates as soon as they are released.
Lock individual apps
Regularly monitor your phone for signs of unusual activity, like unusual pop ups or high battery usage.
The prospect or just the imagination of a hacked phone is certainly scary, but the good news is that you can take steps to prevent phone hacking (or to address it, if it’s already happened). Monitor your phone activity frequently and be smart about what you click, download and store.