How To Tell If Your Phone Has Been Hacked?

by David

Our mobile phones contain a major part of our lives. Further, it’s a tool that we carry every day in our pockets. Therefore, it is always exposed to data thieves or snatchers, thus taking safety measures must be necessary. You might ask, how to tell if your phone is hacked?

Your phone restarts suddenly or loses its charge quickly. Your home screen displays a matrix of numbers. Or you’ve seen a lot of outgoing calls that you didn’t even dial. These are just some of the many ways to know if your phone has been hacked. What the bad news is that hackers now have a lot of ways to get into your phone, without even touching it.

Nowadays, it is given that smartphones are used as new wallets, containing financial and even personal information. Having said that, a breach might leave you at risk. A hacker can spam all your contacts through phishing attacks or make expensive long-distance charges.

phone is hacked

The hacker can also access any passwords that are saved on the phone, possibly opening the door to various sensitive financial accounts. That is why it is important that you can recognize the signs your phone is hacked; especially since some of which might be subtle.

In this article, we are going to discuss how to know if your phone is hacked. Not just that, we will also discuss the different ways on how to unhack your phone. So without further ado, let’s get this started!

Signs that your phone has been hacked

Now, how to tell if a phone is hacked? The following are signs that you can look out for. Take note that these aren’t the only reasons why your phone is hacked. There might be some other possible reasons why your device is acting the way it does. However, if you have experienced a lot of these signs and related issues come into force, then you must take important steps.

  • Some applications stop working

If you have some applications that used to run impeccably, then stopped working suddenly, it is probable that malware might be interfering with their functionalities.

  • Unusual activity on any accounts connected to the device

If an intruder has access to your phone, they also have access to the accounts connected to the device. This might reveal itself in the activity in your accounts, like resetting a password, sending emails, or some other ways. If this is the case, you might be at risk of identity fraud. You should always change your passwords or a regular basis.

  • New applications are installed without permission

Various phone manufacturers and service providers install legitimate programs occasionally. These commonly serve as updates. In case that certain applications are being installed without your permission and/or operation, then malware may be the main culprit.

  • Constant pop-ups

Bear in mind that not all pop-ups in your phone directly mean that your device is hacked. In case they appear continuously, the device may just be infected with some sort of adware. These will force your phone to view particular pages, which earn revenue via clicks.

  • Increase in data usage

Your data usage may show a strange increase after a particular suspicious event. Malware might possibly have transmitted your data to some other criminal servers and parties.

  • Significant decrease in battery life

The battery of a phone decreases as time goes by. A hacked device might have a noteworthy drop. That is mainly because malware utilizes the phone resources in relaying data to third parties.

  • Sluggish Phone Performance

If there is malware running in your phone system’s background, chances are – it’ll slow down the performance of the phone. This may range from freezing up to the crashing of particular applications. Apps might also keep on running, in spite of trying to close them. The phone restarting or crashing by itself is yet another sign to look out for.

  • Outgoing texts or calls you did not send

If you happen to see lists of texts or calls to numbers that you do not even know, you should be cautious. These might be premium-rate numbers, which malware is forcing your device to contact. You should always check your phone bill for any costs that you do not recognize.

  • Changes in Settings

Checking your Settings and noticing some changes that you did not even make, especially the ones relating to security might be a sign of hacking. There are some spying applications that may change the settings of your phone, in order to allow a hacker to spy you via your camera or even gain some access to your contacts.

  • Your calls get interrupted

The inability to make a call or a dropped call even though you have a great signal may be a sign of hacking. In most instances, it is possibly because of some sort of technical problems, yet you need to guard and investigate matters when it becomes a recurrent event. Furthermore, you should also keep an eye for any strange noises that might mean that you aren’t alone.

Is my phone hacked: Ways that your phone can be hacked

Let us now answer the question that a lot of you might be asking. How does someone hack your phone? It is much simpler than what you think it is, and the attack may come from the most unexpected sources.

Below are some ways hackers might do in breaching or hacking your phone. We also provided possible ways for you to protect yourself from it.

1. Public Wi-Fi

If you often connect to public Wi-Fi, there is a risk that you might be at risk of being hacked. As a matter of fact, when you try to connect to an unencrypted Wi-Fi, you are exposing everything that you are doing to the third parties, that may have intruded the internet or made the connection to collect data of unwary people.

free wifi

For instance, when you use the public Wi-Fi to check your social media or bank account, you are giving away your login credentials inadvertently to those who might have hacked to network.

How can you protect yourself?

  • You should avoid connecting to any public Wi-Fi or don’t ever enter any sensitive data, which might not want to be stolen from you.

  • Download a Virtual Private Network (VPN) application to encode your device traffic.

  • If you really need to connect to a public Wi-Fi and do not have a VPN application, avoid entering your login credentials for email and/or banking sites.

2. USB chargers & public computers

Most of you might not think twice before even plugging their smartphones into a public charger or a computer. The worst thing that might happen is that you can be hacked. This might sound impossible, but it is actually true.

When you connect your phone to a computer, the two devices begin to exchange data. Since smartphones have various security settings, they actually share a varying amount of data with the connected device. In this way, the intruders or hackers may get the device’s name, files, operating system, serial number, etc.

Don’t go asking, how to tell if my phone is hacked? If it is you in the first place brusquely connect your phone to unknown public chargers or computers.

How can you protect yourself?

  • You should think twice before connecting your phone to an unfamiliar computer.

  • Do not use a public charger.

  • If your only option is a public computer, you should choose ‘Charge Only’ option

3. Phishing messages

  This is one of the most common methods of hacking phones nowadays. These phishing messages may be from your mobile operator, bank, or even your friends. When you click on a particular link, you will perhaps download a mischievous application on your phone, which may scrape your data.

How can you protect yourself?

  • The safest way to deal with this is to ignore the message and/or delete them as soon as you receive them.

  • If you happen to click on a link and end up downloading an application, your device must notify you. Delete the application.

  • Avoid clicking any unnecessary links from numbers that you don’t know.

  • Bear in mind how you commonly verify your identity with different accounts. For instance, your bank will never ask you to enter your pin or full password.

4. Phone network vulnerability (SS7)

The communication protocol for mobile networks across the world, Signaling System No.7 has its own vulnerability that has been discovered in recent years. Hackers may exploit it and read your messages, track your whereabouts, as well as listen to your calls. Nonetheless, unless you are a prominent figure, there is really nothing much to worry about.

Phone network vulnerability

How can you protect yourself?

  • You should be aware –if you’re in a possibly under fire group, the conversations in your phone might be monitored accordingly.

  • Try to use an end-to-end encrypted message service, which works over the internet.

5. Someone takes your phone & installs a spy app

If you happen to leave your phone unattended at restaurants, workplaces, or cafes, someone may take advantage of your carelessness. They will just need a few minutes to install different monitoring applications that can keep track of you.

These applications may record everything – from text messages to calls, social media activities, as well as your real-time location. What you should do in this case is to protect your phone using a password so no one can unlock it.

How can you protect yourself?

  • You should use a password that you can remember. Do not use any simple password that’s so easy to guess. A combination of capital letters, numbers, and small letters is always a good option.
  • Download a mobile security application.
  • Scan through your applications list to check the ones that you don’t really recognize downloading.
  • If you have an iPhone, choose to not jailbreak it. Once you do this, spy apps are able to hide deeper in your device.

6. Unauthorized access to Google or iCloud account

Hacked Google accounts and iCloud offer access to a great amount of information that is backed up from the device you’re using. Further, there are spyware sellers who particularly market their products against these susceptibilities.

hacked Google

A hacked Google account might mean a hacked Gmail – one of the main email services for a lot of users. Having access to the main email might lead to the domino effect hacking of all the accounts that the main email is connected to. This will pave a way for a deeper identity theft, which will affect you big deal.

How can you protect yourself?

  • In order for you to prevent anyone to reset your password, lie when you set up password security questions.

  • Activate two-factor authentication so even though someone discovers your password, they cannot access your account without accessing your phone.

  • Enable your login notifications so you are aware of the sign-ins from new locations of computers.

7. Malware & spyware

Hackers might install malware and/or spy applications that have direct access to your phone. The spyware usually collects personal information from the smartphone user. It is what lets the hacker monitor a specific phone’s activities distantly.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Download and install an anti-spyware application on your phone.

  • Be wary when surfing the web.

  • Keep your system update regularly.

8. SIM jacking or swapping

This usually happens when hackers tend to transfer your phone number in their own SIM card. They will reset your email password using your number, hence locking you out eventually. The hacker will then gain access to all the accounts linked to your main email.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Activate two-factor authentication so in case someone discovers your password, they cannot access your account without accessing your phone.

  • Enable your login notifications so you are aware of the sign-ins from new locations of computers.

9. FBI StingRay

FBI now has a current initiative to tap phones for criminal investigations. This involves using cellular surveillance devices, which mimic genuine network towers. StingRay and some other claimant wireless carrier towers may force adjacent phones to drop their current carrier connection to connect with StingRay instead.

This will allow the operators of the device to monitor texts and calls made by the targeted phones, the numbers of who they text and call, as well as their movement.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Use encrypted voice call and messaging applications when you think you are entering a particular situation that might be of interest to the government.

10. Unauthorized Installation Of Applications

Your phone is a kind of computer that has its own operating system. Having said that, it is vulnerable to the unauthorized installation of applications, even though it is invisible to you as the user.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Always check your applications list for any unfamiliar applications. Uninstall when you have seen them.

  • These are just some of the many ways hackers might do in breaching or hacking your phone. So, if you have experienced or observed any of these, you should take the necessary actions. If the problem still does not go away, consider resetting your phone to its original settings.

How to find out who hacked your phone?

You should know by now the signs to look for if you think your phone has been hacked; as well as the different ways hackers do in hacking your phone. The next thing that you might be asking is how to find out who hacked your phone, right?

Let me tell you this. Unless the hacking or the attack was particularly targeted at you, finding the culprit might be somewhat difficult. You should try checking all the applications that you do not recognize, and even any suspicious social media accounts or phone numbers, which have interacted with you.

Additionally, a quick search may find some links, yet tracking the hackers commonly needs a cybersecurity expert. Commonly, it is worth it to report such cases to your local or even to your national law enforcement for additional investigation.

What to do if your phone has been hacked?

If your phone has been suddenly hacked, you can take the following corrective actions:

  • Check if you have any unauthorized transactions and purchases. In case there are any illegal transactions, notify the involved parties and dispute when possible.

  • Change all your accounts’ passwords as soon as possible. You should make them stronger. You may choose to use 2-Factor Authentication, 2-Step Verification, or even biometrics when possible.

  • Uninstall any or all suspicious apps at this instant.

  • Download and install a mobile security application instantly and run them. These applications will scan for malware and viruses. They might also protect your necessary applications from any infection.

  • Breaches may reduce your device impracticable. You may consider restoring it to its factory settings. This might wipe the memory of the phone. Therefore, you would want to do this as a last option. Reinstall all your favorite programs or applications – now only from reliable application stores.

  • Show your phone to a technology professional if any of the corrective actions above did not work so well.

How to prevent your phone from being hacked?

prenvent hacked

All the ways of preventing your phone from being tracked or hacked are multi-layered. There is no one thing that will give you 100% protection. The following are essential steps that you might take in preventing your phone from being hacked:

  • Do not use any download websites that you do not trust. They are a possible source of malware.
  • Use a Virtual Private Network or VPN to protect your online traffic, as well as browse privately and safely.
  • Install anti-malware applications and keep on updating your application regularly.
  • Do not open any suspicious links, messages, or files. These might be spyware or malware in disguise.
  • You should never leave your phone unattended and don’t let people - whom you do not know, use it.
  • Lock your phone using a lock screen or password.
  • Turn your Bluetooth off when you are not using it, as it might be used as an access point for hackers.
  • Do not use public charging spots or Wi-Fi that you do not trust. If you really need to use the public Wi-Fi, make sure to do it with a Virtual Private Network. Hackers may also establish a fake access point with a genuine network’s name, as well as obtain your data or even track you. You should always report these dubious access points. After you use the Wi-Fi, make sure to disconnect from it.
  • Do not transmit your personal hotspot in an open area when you’re in public. If you do so, make sure that you have made the setting as protected as possible.

In almost all things, prevention is always better than cure. Having said that, if you are asking, how to stop someone from spying on my cell phone? The answer actually relies on you. You can take the different preventive measures we listed above to avoid getting hacked.

Final say

There is no doubt, phone hacking is a huge problem. It may affect your finances and privacy negatively. Put simply, you need to be careful all the time when you are active on your device.

Furthermore, bear in mind that hackers get smarter and smarter nowadays, especially in their attempts to stealing information and gain access to devices, so you should be careful when you are downloading or installing an application.

Now, we hope that you are already aware of the signs that might trigger your suspicion and the fact that you must take necessary action against it. We hope that this guide has, in any way, helped you learn how to tell if your phone has been hacked.

Remember all of the things you have learned from this post and make sure to do what you should do. Always keep in mind, the longer you wait to battle against hackers, the more damage they will be able to do. Even though you have the slightest doubt, take the bull by the horns. After all, it is always better to be safe, rather than be sorry.

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