Your smartphone is probably filled with highly personal information, like pictures, texts, documents, and more. Considering that your phone has the capacity to operate even better than many computers, it is definitely something that you want to hold sacred.
Cybercriminals may try to hack into your device to get some of this sensitive information, specifically your bank accounts, personal information, and more. Here are some warning signs that might tip you off if your phone has been hacked and some tips and tricks to try to fix it.
Why Do People Try to Hack Smartphones?
There are many reasons why someone might try to hack into an iPhone or Android device and steal information. This allows them to gain access to bank account information, credit card information, and your identity to commit fraud.
What Causes a Phone to Be Hacked?
Hackers can trick you into letting them steal some of your private information in a few common ways.
One is with hacking software, or malware, that can be downloaded onto your phone if you accidentally click suspicious links or download applications from unknown sources.
This gives hackers the ability to create problems in two main ways:
- Trojans: These types of hackers use malware that is disguised into your phone that secretly tracks information in the background as you use it. This lets hackers have access to important info like credit card accounts.
- Keylogging: Keylogging can be thought of like a stalker snooping over your shoulder as you type. As you use your phone, keyloggers can extract information from things you type, text, or speak over a call.
You can also be the subject of a phishing attack. While these used to be common over computers, your phone is essentially a handheld computer and is susceptible to the same risks. Phishing happens when someone impersonates a company or trusted individual to try to get you to click on links or give over personal information.
SIM card swapping is a form of physical hacking where a hacker contacts your phone provider and pretends to be you, then asks for a replacement SIM card. Once the provider sends a new SIM, the old one is deactivated, and your phone number is effectively stolen. This gives the hacker the ability to take control of your phone calls, texts, and more.
Finally, Bluetooth hacking can occur when a hacker is in the Bluetooth range of your phone. They make a Bluetooth connection to your device and then try to access as much personal data and info as possible before you exit their range.
Signs That Your Phone Is Hacked
Like any other device that can connect to the internet, cybercriminals have the power to hack into your phone. They are particularly targeted because of the sheer amount of data that most people keep on their mobile devices, from credit card information to passwords.
While your phone has safety measures to prevent this sort of thing from happening, here are some signs that your phone might have been the target of a cybercrime.
1. Your Phone Is Working Slower Than Normal
Many signs of a hacked phone don’t look like anything more than a technical issue. Performance issues without any reasonable cause are one of the main indications that your phone might be compromised.
If you notice that web pages and apps are harder to load, your battery life seems to be running low a lot quicker than normal, your keyboard is lagging, or other strange issues, it might be because malware is working in the background to reduce your power significantly.
However, keep in mind that a phone’s battery isn’t supposed to last forever, and it will decrease over time. If you think the battery drain is connected to unusual activity but can’t be sure, it’s time to head to where you purchased your phone or call your provider directly.
2. Mysterious Spikes in Data Usage
If a hacker is able to install malware onto your device, these are constantly running in the background to assess and try to steal new information off of your phone. These processes require an internet connection in order to function, and if you’re not connected to Wi-Fi, your phone will do this over mobile data.
If you start to notice confusingly high data usage, despite the fact that your own personal phone usage hasn’t changed, then it could be a sign that your phone has been compromised.
Your phone shouldn’t start to randomly give you pop-up ads without you first clicking on a link. If this starts to happen, it’s usually a clear indication that you’ve been the victim of spyware or malware.
4. Your Phone Feels Hot
Your phone uses a lot of power to run malware that is installed by scammers and hackers, which can make your phone use a lot of processing power. This can make your phone feel internally hot in your hands. If your phone feels suspiciously hot despite the fact that you’ve barely been using it, proceed with caution.
5. Mystery Apps
If you notice a suspicious app on your home screen that you never downloaded yourself, it might have been the job of a hacker. Same goes for calls, text messages, emails, and other correspondence that you’ve never made yourself.
While we’re on the topic of apps, don’t jailbreak your phone in order to download anything from unofficial app stores. Jailbreaking compromises your phone’s security. There’s a good reason that the Google Play Store, the Apple App Store, etc., don’t allow this — they’re well aware of the malicious apps lurking beneath the surface.
What To Do if You Think Your Phone Is Hacked
If you think your mobile phone has been hacked, there are a few things you can do.
First, check your bank accounts, credit card accounts, and other personal accounts to ensure no unauthorized purchases were made. Until you resolve the issue, you might want to put a freeze on your cards. Additionally, update your unique passwords on your personal accounts to protect them, even if your phone is currently being hacked.
Next, install and run security software on your smartphone (trusted sources are names like McAfee and Norton). See what the scan says, and regardless, delete any apps you didn’t download, risky texts, and other suspicious info. From there, run the test again and see if it cleared anything up.
If this still doesn’t work, you might need to wipe and restore your phone to its factory settings. A factory reset will erase all data on your device, which is why it is essential to try to back up your data onto a second device on a regular basis.
How To Prevent Your Phone From Being Hacked
The best way to fix a hacked phone is to just prevent it from happening in the first place. There are a few measures you can take to protect your privacy.
Stay Up to Data on Cybersecurity
One of the most important things to do is know the signs of scams, phishing, and hacking. Never click on links that you don’t recognize, never respond to messages from numbers you do not know, and never download any software without checking that it’s legitimate first.
Make Use of Anti-Malware and Antivirus Software
Arm your device with mobile security software. Most iPhone devices are already loaded up with pre-installed software that fights back and protects against viruses and other malware, but Android phones are more easily compromised. Download security software to keep your phone safer.
Update Your Phone
Another easy way to protect your phone is to keep it current. You can do this by making sure that your phone’s software is up to date. Your phone manufacturer uses updates to fix vulnerabilities and keep your phone running more smoothly.
Charge Your Phone at Home
It’s wise to avoid public charging stations, like those you might find in airports or supermarkets. However, some hackers have been known to “juice jack” these by installing malware into the charging station, so when you plug in your phone, you instantly become the victim of being hacked.
Speaking of public resources, avoid using public Wi-Fi networks unless you have a VPN. Then, make sure to disconnect from that public Wi-Fi after you no longer need it. Why? Hackers might have set up an evil twin network, making identity theft all too easy.
Pick a Powerful Passcode
It’s vital that your passwords are all strong and unique. Generally, a strong password is one that is at least eight characters long and contains one uppercase letter, as well as at least one special character.
Use different passwords across your accounts rather than just the same one. Write your passwords down on a piece of physical paper and keep it somewhere safe. Don’t store passwords in the phone itself. A password manager can be handy too, but make sure it comes from a reputable source.
Lastly, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on your online accounts. If you see emails pop up requesting access to your financial or social media accounts, this could be a sign of trouble.
Don’t Lose Your Phone
Finally, preventing the actual theft of your phone is crucial. Someone doesn’t need to be a skilled hacker to get their hands on your phone and gain access to all of your personal information. Keep your phone safe, and make use of your phone’s built-in tracking software like Find my iPhone.
Getting a Second Burner Number To Protect Against Hackers
You can also take an extra step towards protecting your private information with a second Burner number. Hackers can gain a lot of information about you from just your cell phone number by itself. So, getting a second number provides a new level of defense against these cybercrimes.
Your Burner number conceals your personal number, so every time you make an outgoing call, the recipient will only see your second number. This works both ways, too. So if someone ever tries to send you a call or a text, they won’t ever see your personal information unless you allow the call to get sent through.
This helps protect you from harm by not allowing scammers and hackers to see your personal information. It’s perfect for general use, for buying and selling on Craigslist, for online dating, and so much more.
You can use it as a second business number to enhance your productivity. Send all of your work-related calls to your second number and use Burner’s Do Not Disturb feature to help achieve the perfect work-life balance so you can disconnect when you need to.
Your smartphone is filled with lots of personal information that you need access to every single day, which makes it an easy target for many hackers and scammers to try to steal your information. Hackers can get your information if you click on suspicious and malicious links, download certain apps, and more.
Your phone might be hacked if you notice some of the signs, like weak performance, physical heat, spikes in data usage, mystery apps that you never downloaded, and strange pop-ups. You can work to protect yourself by getting a second number with your free trial to Burner to shield your primary number from harm’s way.