Do you know if your phone has been hacked? If you’ve ever experienced any of these signs, it could be that your phone has been hacked! See what you should do.
This article contains:
- What is phone hacking?
- How can a phone be hacked
- Signs to know if your IOS or Android device has bee hacked
- Android or iPhone security comparison: which can be easily hacked?
- How to avoid phone hacking
- Next steps to take after your phone has been hacked
- Additional information: Intrusion Detection System
What is Phone Hacking?
Phone hacking is the act of intruding or forcing access to a smartphone device without the owner’s consent or permission. Phone Hacking comes with malicious intentions like data breaching and accessing other personal information, and monitoring the owner’s device. The exploitation is often carried out using computers. A phone that has been hacked allows threat actors to access the phone’s voicemail, email, text messages, and other parts of the phone.
How can a phone be Hacked?
Phone Hacking usually requires victims to take some kind of action before their phone can be hacked or compromised. Oftentimes, victims fall for hackers’ tricks like their social engineering techniques, technical trickery, and exploiting security vulnerabilities.
Some common ways a Phone can be hacked:
1. Social Engineering: This is the most common way in which victims’ devices are compromised. The hacker uses platforms and websites to convince users into revealing confidential information. Social engineering attacks can be in various forms and they always try to attract people’s interest. Types of Social Engineering attacks are;
a. Phishing attack: Phishing is a type of social engineering where an attacker sends illegitimate messages to steal data and credentials. Phishing is usually motivated by money and it is mostly carried out by sending emails. Phishing attacks could also be through voice messages(vishing). The attacker tries to convince people over phone calls to give out sensitive information.
b. Pretexting: This is still a social engineering technique in which mobile devices can be hacked. It involves inventing a pretext or fabricated scenario to try to steal the victim’s personal information. It could be by asking the target to confirm their identity, reset their password, and other kinds of scenarios.
c. Scareware: In this type of social engineering technique, the victims are bombarded with false alarms and fictitious threats, usually when visiting some websites. The alarms try to trick people into downloading unnecessary and potentially dangerous software, such as fake antivirus protection. Some of the attacks may come as pop-ups on websites trying to deceive people into clicking them for the betterment of their device.
d. Smishing (SMS Phishing): Phones can be hacked through malicious text messages. It is also known as SMS phishing. The attackers use messages to trick or convince targets into clicking links, it is carried over mobile text messaging.
Read more news on phishing
2. Malware: If hackers are unable to convince you into clicking buttons, the hackers try to infect your phone with malware to gain access. Malware interferes with the security and privacy of a device and It provides remote control access for attackers on the infected device.
3. Malvertising: The goal of this kind of attack is to get people to click on malicious links that pose as advertisements. They try to lure or tempt people with the so-called advertisements, to click on the link even before you think.
4. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth: Hackers are capable of breaking into unsecured wireless networks and stealing personal information and spying on people’s privacy. Hackers can also create fake WiFi networks and when you connect to it with your mobile device, they redirect you to malicious sites. To browse safely when using public Wi-Fi, it is recommended that you use a VPN to ensure an encrypted and private connection.
Hackers can also break into mobile devices through Bluetooth, so avoid paring your phone to an unknown Bluetooth connection.
5. Spyware attack: The hackers and even people without advanced IT knowledge leverage spy apps for their malicious intentions. This allows them to remotely monitor your phone activities.
6. USB Charger: Your mobile device can receive data and files when connected to a computer using a USB cable. Harmful or malicious files can be transferred to your device when it’s connected.
Some Signs to Know if your iPhone or Android has been Hacked
1. Slow performance: Is your phone constantly, crashing, freezing, and glitching? Are your texts or calls not going through?
If you are experiencing any of these issues, it could be that your phone is infected by malware running in the background and is responsible for the slow performance of your mobile device.
2. Shorter Battery Life: Is your phone battery reducing too fast? This is could be signs that your phone has been hacked. Unwanted applications could take over your phone’s resources and drain the battery life quickly.
3. Pop-ups: Ad pop-ups can be very frustrating because they interrupt your mobile activities by popping up on your screen. These pop-ups are sent to your phone by third-party apps. Be careful not to click those pop-ups because it will only put your phone in a worse condition. Check your app’s permissions and disable the ‘draw over other apps permission’ and also disable notifications.
4. Overheating: Similar to other devices, phones get overheated sometimes. This happens when you’ve been using it for a long period or when you’re downloading large files. Whenever this happens without any apparent reason, it could be that an external actor has access to your device. The phone hacker might be overloading your mobile device with work or transferring lots of your data to his server.
5. Increase in data usage: If your online activities haven’t changed much but your data usage unusually increasing, it could be that your phone has been hacked. Malicious applications and malware could be using data in the background. Always review and delete unwanted applications.
6. Strange browsing experience: A hacked smartphone can be infected with malware which could change the user’s experience when visiting websites. A phone can be infected with malware that redirects you to unsafe websites.
7. Unrecognized apps and activities: You may discover apps that you are not familiar with being installed on your phone. Although some apps come pre-installed, a phone hacker might be responsible for newly downloaded apps that you don’t recognize.
You might also notice unusual activities on your social platforms, when this is noticed, it is wise to take action immediately like changing your social media account password but remember to not save them on your phone, for complete security. If you also see text messages and calls you didn’t make, a phone hacker could be responsible for those activities.
Android or iPhone which is easily hacked?
No smartphone is uncrackable but the Android device is undoubtedly easier to hack as jailbreaking is looser on Android than on IOS. iPhones are much harder to gain access to because the IOS operating system is a closed system environment. Android operating system is used by more phones and more people so there is a bigger pool of targets. The likelihood of your phone being hacked still depends on how you use your device and the precautions you take to protect your device.
How to avoid Phone Hacking?
i. Avoid using public Wi-Fi without a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
ii. Avoid storing passwords on your mobile device
iii. Only download applications from trusted sources
iv. Be careful when granting app permissions on your mobile device
v. Always update your device software
Beware of Spam and Phishing emails
vi. Set up Multi-Factor Authentication(MFA) for your apps
vii. Avoid clicking suspicious links
viii. Clear your web history and cookies once in a while
ix. Don’t jailbreak your phone, it increases the risk of your phone getting hacked
What should I do if my phone has already been Hacked?
1. Install an Anti-virus application
2. Factory Reset Android or iPhone: To factory reset an Android device, the process is as follows;
a. Go to Settings on your Android device
b. Scroll to the bottom and select System Management
c. Select the Backup and Reset option in System Management
d. Finally, select Erase all data
To factory reset on an iPhone are as follows;
a. Go to Settings
b. Select General
c. Select the Reset option
d. Tap Erase All Content and Setting
e. You will be asked to either Back-Up and Erase or Erase now
Before resetting your device make sure all your data is backed up so you easily retrieve them
3. Delete suspicious applications
4. Inform your contacts about the situation: It’s wise to let them know that they shouldn’t click any links or open any message coming from your phone number to avoid them getting victimized too.
Intrusion Detection System(IDS): is a monitoring system that detects suspicious activities and generates alerts when they are detected. It is a device or software application that monitors a network or systems for malicious activity or policy violations. Any suspicious activity would be reported to an administrator or collected centrally using a security information and management system. A security operations center(SOC) analyst would now respond to these alerts and take the necessary actions to remediate the threat.