How to Know if Your Phone Is Hacked

With so much information on our phones, it’s no surprise that hackers have begun to target phones and other devices to steal user data. From text messages to social media, smartphones are a gateway to personal information. Therefore, you need to know how to protect your phone against hackers. In this article, find out how to know if your phone is hacked and how to move forward if you do have a hacked phone.

Ways hackers can get to your phone

Hackers are clever; there are many ways through which they can get to your phone. Many hackers use malware to control your device, whether it be spyware, scareware, a Trojan horse, or another kind of malware altogether. If you download files or images from suspicious websites or email messages, you may have unknowingly downloaded malware. Downloading apps from unofficial app stores also presents this risk. A hacker then takes advantage and controls your phone.

Phishing emails are another common hacking technique. Phishing emails are messages that look authentic but are from a different person altogether. The goal of phishing emails is to fool recipients into clicking links, responding, or donating money.

Hackers can also use software to search for vulnerabilities on your device and exploit them in order to gain access. This is partly why free WiFi networks are risky; public WiFi isn’t protected, leaving you susceptible to hackers and malware when on the networks.

How to know if your device has been hacked

How to know if your phone is hacked

While hackers try to go unnoticed, you can still look for the signs of a hacked phone. Here are the things to watch for to determine if your phone is hacked.

  • Your data usage increases significantly. Though you’re not using your phone more, if your phone is hacked, the hacker is likely using it for other reasons. This quickly exhausts your data.
  • Your battery starts to deplete quickly. If malicious programs are running in the background of your phone, they’ll use up your battery life.
  • Your phone’s performance slows down. Similarly, if a hacker is using your phone for other purposes, it won’t be able to run as quickly as it used to.
  • You find unexplained messages or calls in your phone’s history. Unusual activity could be the result of malware or the hacker using your phone.
  • Apps on your phone start to act abnormally. You might see issues with other apps just like you do with your phone’s performance.
  • You see a lot of pop-up ads. Some types of malware cause excessive pop-up ads on a device or browser. If you notice these, it could indicate your phone has malicious software from a hacker.

Though it’s still possible that a cybercriminal could hack your phone and you wouldn’t notice any changes, look out for these signs on your device. If you believe your phone has been hacked, the most important thing is to act quickly to reduce damages.

What to do if your phone is hacked

If you’re experiencing any of the above issues with your phone, it’s possible your phone has been hacked. The first thing that you should do is download a mobile security software app on your phone, like Avast Antivirus or MalwareBytes. These antivirus programs can help eliminate any malicious software the hacker places on your device.

Once you have your phone under control, change all your passwords. Though this may seem like a tedious task, if your phone is hacked, all the accounts that you access with your phone are at risk. Change your passwords for apps and software on your phone, bank accounts, credit cards, and social media.

Once your passwords are changed, we recommend checking over your phone for any suspicious apps or software. Check all of your folders, files, and messages. If you find anything strange, delete it from your phone.

Additionally, let your family and friends know that you have a hacked phone, as the hacker may attempt to create collateral damage by sending messages, emails, or calls from your phone to theirs. If they accidentally open one of the messages, it could allow the hacker to access their phone, too. Therefore, alerting your contacts that you had a security issue on your phone could help prevent more widespread damage.

If you still can’t get control of your phone, you can restore your phone to factory settings as a last resort. This will erase any harmful data on the device and let you start over. While this will erase everything on your device, including pictures and apps, you can back up your phone to the cloud to preserve your data before clearing your phone.

How to prevent a hacked phone

While it’s important to determine how to know if someone is hacking your phone, it’s equally important to take preventative measures to protect yourself against security threats in the first place. Here are five simple ways to help make sure you don’t have your phone hacked.

  • Don’t connect to free WiFi networks. Public WiFi networks are useful but risky. The open connection means information sent across the network isn’t as secure, increasing the chances of someone hacking your phone and getting your personal information.
  • Stay up to date on operating system updates. Operating system (OS) updates provide patches that fix security vulnerabilities and optimize your phone’s defenses. Though they’re inconvenient, make sure you set a time for your phone to perform necessary OS updates regularly.
  • Don’t plug your phone into public charging ports. Hackers can manipulate public charging ports to transfer malware to connected devices. Though not all public charging ports are a danger, it’s safer to avoid them to prevent juice jacking attacks.
  • Keep your Bluetooth off when not in use. We use Bluetooth so often it’s easy to forget to turn it off. However, turning off your Bluetooth can help save you from phone hackers. Hackers can intercept your device’s Bluetooth and pull personal information from your device. To avoid this, turn off Bluetooth when you aren’t using it.
  • Don’t open suspicious texts or emails. Phishing attacks work best when a user unknowingly opens malicious links or messages. They allow computer viruses and malware to infiltrate a device. Don’t open text messages or emails that seem out of the ordinary, especially if they include links or images.

Using a strong, unique password on your phone is another basic safety step that can help you protect your phone and the information on it, especially if you lose your phone. Even if someone hacked your phone, don't worry; do your best to repair the damages and become more proactive in your prevention techniques moving forward.