Have you realized that your phone is full of personal information that others can exploit? Most people don’t think that they can be a victim of phone hacking, especially if they use iPhones.
But just as it can happen to celebrities and other prominent people, someone can also hack ordinary people’s phones. And the fact that Apple rolls out regular iOS updates means there are vulnerabilities that can compromise your device.
How can someone hack your phone?
We’ve done our research, and below, we talk about the best tips on how to recognize signs of phone hacking and how to stop hackers from attacking your phone.
We’ve turned to reputable sources on phone security to give you actionable advice.
So, don’t miss out on the signs of phone hacking and compromise your security! Some might seem like ordinary phone issues, but they indicate mobile hacking. Read until the end and learn our top tip to prevent phone hacking.
9 signs of a hacked smartphone
As the owner of your device, you should be able to notice any little changes on your phone.
You can check if your phone is hacked by looking for these nine signs. It’s important to inspect your phone regularly for the following issues.
1. Performance issues
Hacked phones show performance issues. You might experience unexpected restarts, and apps might keep on crashing. Your phone’s screen might also freeze, or web pages may be extra slow to load.
These are signs that there could be malware running in the background, draining your phone’s resources.
2. Noticeable decrease in battery life
It’s normal for your phone’s battery life to decrease. A phone’s battery typically operates at an optimal capacity for approximately two to three years. However, if you notice that your battery drains fast, consider phone hacking as one of the culprits.
You can check if several apps are opened in the background because running apps use data and power. But if you don’t have many open apps, hackers might have installed malicious apps on your phone, draining your battery quickly.
3. Hot phone
Your phone may feel hot after you’ve used it for several hours. For example, its temperature may rise after streaming an hour-long movie or playing mobile games. But if it stays hot even after being idle, you might need to check whether someone has hacked it.
A hacker might’ve downloaded unwanted apps or malware. As they run in the background to steal your information or monitor your activities, your phone gets hot.
4. Mystery apps
Have you noticed new apps on your phone that you don’t remember downloading? Hackers can trick you into downloading unwanted apps infected with malware. Once successful, they can remotely access your phone and steal your information.
Once you see an unfamiliar app, search its name online to check whether it contains malware. It’s not always the case that you’ve been hacked. Manufacturers install apps on new phones. Examples of bloatware include apps on fitness, weather, music, sports, and navigation.
When apps require updates, make sure to check each one of them. It can help you sort secure apps from malware-infected ones and protect your phone from unnecessary data consumption and fast battery drainage.
5. Unwanted pop-ups
Hackers can also introduce adware to your phone. Adware refers to a kind of malware that displays unwanted and excessive pop-up ads. Unfortunately, the adware can track your online behavior and compromise your security.
Malware can also cause the following to your phone:
- Spam pop-ups
- Home screen changes
- Suspicious bookmarks
- Browser homepage changes
- Configuration changes
Some adware can also bring unusual pop-up ads involving X-rated content and lottery scams. Once you click on these ads or links, you can expose your phone to more risks like phishing attacks.
6. Sudden spike in data usage
Does your phone notify you of a significant spike in your data usage, although your online activities haven’t changed? It’s one sign that your phone has been compromised.
Since hackers can download malicious apps on your phone and they consume data, you might notice an unexplainable increase in your data usage. That’s because a hacked device can use your data to transfer information from your phone.
Your data may also surge due to phone camera hacking because someone may remotely turn on your camera to spy on you. They can also capture sensitive pictures and use them to blackmail you. Aside from increased data usage, be wary of unusual camera settings.
7. Calls or texts from unrecognized numbers
Hackers may infect your phone with an SMS trojan, which uses messaging services to send and intercept texts.
Fortunately, software developers added protective features to warn users before opening a potentially infected text message from hackers. You might notice a pop-up that says, “This message may cause charges on your mobile account.”
If hackers successfully compromise your phone, they can call or text your family and friends. They can pretend to be you and ask them for money or information.
You might also receive messages and calls from unknown numbers, which may indicate that you’ve been a data breach victim. You may also have trouble sending and receiving text messages.
8. Unusual activities with your accounts
Can a hacker see what you do on your phone?
Yes, the hacker can snoop on information as you type, visit web pages, call, and take pictures. So they can access your online accounts’ usernames and passwords.
Hackers can pry while you’re typing your mobile bank password. They can withdraw funds from your bank account or use your stolen credit card information to make unauthorized purchases.
They can also know your social media and email credentials. They can open your Facebook or Instagram and pretend to be you. Stealing your identity allows them to message and scam your friends or followers.
You must be wary of log-ins from remote locations, random posts from your social media accounts, and an unusual increase in friends or followers.
The worst thing that may happen is when a hacker changes your password and takes over your profile. We’ve heard a lot of stories of people who couldn’t retrieve their hacked social media accounts, yet hackers continue to use them for malicious activities.
9. Lost signal
Your phone may lose signal occasionally, but if it happens regularly, you might need to check if someone hacked your phone.
A lost signal prevents you from messaging and calling friends, colleagues, and family members. But worse, it can be a sign that hackers have swapped your SIM card. They will receive your messages, including OTPs and security codes sent to your phone number.
Always look out for the above-mentioned signs, so you can prevent additional security and financial issues. Knowing these indications can also help stop someone from hacking your phone.
7 ways to remove a hacker
If you suspect that your phone has been compromised, can you get rid of a hacker in your phone? It’s still possible to save your phone and identity when someone hacks your device.
The key is to act fast to minimize the damage and prevent hackers from fully taking over your device.
1. Delete suspicious apps
If you notice an unexpected spike in your data usage and you’ve seen suspicious apps, delete them immediately.
These apps usually have spelling and grammatical errors. Hackers design these apps for malicious purposes, usually to spy on their victims and retrieve sensitive information.
2. Change your passwords
Hackers can open your social media, email, and mobile banking accounts when they steal your username and password. So if you notice unusual online activities, change your passwords immediately.
A strong password contains 8-12 characters with upper and lowercase letters, random symbols, and numbers.
This way, the hacker will have difficulty crackng your password again. It also removes a cybercriminal’s access to your account.
3. Block unrecognized numbers
When you receive calls and texts from unrecognizable numbers, block the numbers and report them as spam.
This way, you can stop them from sending messages that can harm your phone and steal your identity. It also alerts service providers of scammers.
4. Run anti-malware software
Antivirus software scans and deletes malware from your phone. It can also detect malware threats before a hacker takes over your phone and recognize adware to block unwanted pop-ups on your phone.
5. Reset your phone
You can also reset your device to remove malware easily. If you’re an Android user, you can follow these steps:
- Go to “Settings,” then choose “System.”
- Select “Reset” options to erase all data. Some phones show a “Factory reset” option.
- Tap “Erase all data,” then type your device’s personal identification number (PIN).
If you have an iPhone, open “Settings,” choose “General,” then click “Transfer” or “Reset iPhone.
6. Clear cache and downloads
If you don’t want to reset your phone for fear of losing important files, you can clear your cache and downloads.
Here’s how to do it if you’re using an Android gadget:
- Open the Chrome app, then click “More.”
- Choose “History,” then select “Clear browsing data.”
- Click “All time” to delete everything.
- Check the boxes pertaining to “Cookies and site data” and “Cached images and files.” After that, tap “Clear data.”
You can follow these steps if you use an iPhone.
- Go to “Settings,” then choose “Safari.”
- Click “Clear History” and “Website Data.”
7. Contact service provider
If a hacker compromised your phone, you might wonder, “Who do I contact about my phone being hacked?”
You should call your service provider if you have stopped receiving messages and calls. They can help resolve the issue and provide a new sim card.
You can also report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) if you suspect the hacker stole your identity. The agency can provide a recovery plan, track your progress, and fill out letters for you.
It usually takes a few minutes to stop someone from hacking your phone. Remove the hacker immediately to prevent further damage.
6 ways to prevent phone hacking
Although it’s relatively easy to stop hackers, preventing them from accessing your phone is better.
While you might be able to remove them from your device, you wouldn’t know how much sensitive information they’ve already exploited. So, it’s always better to err on the side of caution.
1. Update your phone and apps
Hackers find vulnerabilities and rely on those issues to attack people’s devices. That’s why developers keep on updating apps and software.
These updates can fix vulnerabilities, preventing cybercriminals from executing malware-based attacks. Moreover, they allow your apps and phones to run smoothly.
You can set automatic updates, but if you want more control, you can do updates manually. Just set a regular schedule to do it.
2. Use a VPN
Do you connect to public WiFi whenever you’re outside?
You must refrain from connecting to a public network because hackers usually target people who use WiFi in public locations, such as hotels and airports.
Here’s the best tip to prevent phone hacking: if you can’t avoid connecting to a public WiFi, you can install a virtual private network (VPN).
A VPN hides your online activities, including the passwords for your accounts, websites you visited, and videos you’ve watched. It encrypts your data to prevent cybercriminals from accessing it.
3. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA)
Since hackers can compromise your accounts, it would be best to enable 2FA. As its name suggests, this security system requires two forms of identity authentication. The first is a password, while the second is facial recognition or fingerprint.
Once you input your password, an app or website will require you to look into the camera or press a button for fingerprint scanning. So, 2FA provides more excellent protection than a simple password.
An older version of 2FA involves sending a code or link to your inbox or phone. Before, you must input the code or click the link to access your account. However, hackers can intercept the messages if they have overtaken your accounts.
4. Encrypt your phone
Always secure your phone, especially when you’re in a public place. You have to set a PIN, so you’ll be the only one who can unlock it.
You can also activate your phone’s Find My Device so that when you lose your device, you can erase its data remotely.
These safety measures can prevent cyber criminals from physically accessing your device and stealing your information.
5. Be mindful of your phone’s settings
It’s best to turn off your Bluetooth and WiFi when not in use, especially in a public place. Hackers can send malicious files to your device when you enable these options. It works like an open door for cybercriminals to attack your device.
You should also refrain from jailbreaking, which means altering the developer’s restrictions regarding your device’s operating system. Some smartphone owners jailbreak to customize their phones.
However, it can expose your gadget to vulnerabilities. It also gives cybercriminals a better chance to compromise your phone and inject malware into it.
6. Avoid third-party app stores
Download reputable apps only on Google Play and Apple App Store. The apps on these platforms have been reviewed, so they’re most likely safe for your phone.
On the other hand, downloading an app from third-party sites can expose your phone to malware and adware.
You can also check an app’s rating and user reviews before downloading. It will alert you to possible security problems.
Phone hacking poses several security and financial issues. You can lose money if hackers access your bank accounts. Some people also lose their reputations due to a stolen identity.
Fortunately, you can check whether someone hacked your device. Signs of a hacked smartphone include a drop in performance, a significant decrease in battery life, a hot phone, malicious apps, unwanted pop-ups, increased data usage, calls and texts from unknown numbers, lost signal, and compromised accounts.
It usually takes a few minutes to remove a hacker from your phone, though you have to act fast before so much damage has been done. But if you want to prevent these issues, it’s best to reset your phone. You must also regularly update your apps, use a VPN, enable 2FA, encrypt your phone, check your phone’s settings, and avoid third-party app stores.