Your smart phone is your sanctuary. It’s where you keep photos, memories, accounts, passwords, and lots of other personal information. You probably have it with you at all times! You try to keep it as safe and secure as possible.
Is your phone dying faster than usual or running slowly? You may have been hacked. Discover how hackers access your phone and what you can do to protect yourself.
How do hackers access your phone?
Hackers know how important your phone is to you. They want to break in and use your private info, passwords, financial accounts, social media accounts and more—all for their own nefarious purposes. But how do they get into your phone in the first place?
Fake or malicious apps
If you recently downloaded a free new game or a tool that needs your location data, you may have given a hacker access to your phone. Hackers develop and market apps that are designed to grab your attention and make you download without questioning anything. Even trusted apps can contain bugs that hackers exploit.
Your safest bet is to only download straight from your app store, ensuring that the app you are purchasing is reviewed well and has been downloaded by many others before you.
Signaling System 7
Signaling System 7 is a phone signaling protocol developed in the 1970s, used for beginning and ending phone calls across a digital signaling network. Hackers can take advantage of security flaws in this system by interrupting voice and text messages. Essentially, the hacker can pretend to be anyone and use that to steal precious information and money.
Have you ever searched the Internet and clicked the wrong search result? Sometimes, you may think you are clicking the correct result; but you are actually clicking a fake link that a hacker designed to trap you. This malicious link takes you to the hacker’s website, where they try to fool you into giving up login info and other personal details.
Phone connection to an insecure computer
Sometimes it’s handy to connect your phone to a computer for easier viewing and task completion. You can use Bluetooth to connect, or simply plug your phone in with a USB cable. However, if a hacker has already infected the computer you are using, it’s easy for the hacker to gain access to your phone as well once the connection is established. Make sure the computer is safe, updated, and not using public Wi-Fi.
Unsecured public Wi-Fi
Speaking of Wi-Fi, it’s a risk for your phone as well. Whether you are in a coffee shop, library, or other public location, it’s tempting to use the offered Wi-Fi for a quick Internet connection. But hackers keep tabs on unsecured Wi-Fi; once they see your phone enter the list, they can quickly swoop in and gain access via the Wi-Fi connection to your device.
Types of hacking software
Malware is the general term for any software that a hacker designs to infect or take over your digital devices.
A hacker can infect your device with malware called a software keylogger. The keylogger can then record your keystrokes as you type on your phone. It sends this information to the hacker so they can easily copy your patterns to use login credentials or perform other nefarious deeds with your captured info.
Yes, a digital device can get sick! A hacker can install and execute this specific type of malware on your phone. After that, the virus replicates itself by spreading malware into all the programs on your phone. This is why we say a digital device with a virus is “infected.”
Signs your phone has been hacked
If your phone has been hacked, there will be warning signs. Keep an eye out for these telltale hints that a criminal has gained access to your phone.
Are new ad windows suddenly covering your content? Did an inappropriate popup appear on your screen with no explanation? Hackers may have installed adware on your phone, a program that makes income for the hacker by distributing ads without your knowledge or consent.
New apps you don’t recognize
New apps don’t just magically appear on your home screen. You or someone else had to put them there. If you notice that an unrecognized app has suddenly shown up on your phone, that’s a sign that a hacker installed it.
High temperature and faster battery drainage
We all love it when our phone battery lasts all day. And most phones are designed with this capability in mind! So if your phone battery has inexplicably begun draining faster throughout the day, or your phone feels hot to the touch, that could mean a hacker has malicious programs running in the background.
Slower phone operation
Trying to open the web or run an app, but it’s taking forever? Malware works in the background all the time, using up your phone’s resources and making it perform less optimally. If your phone starts acting slow, it’s time to go digging for answers.
Increased data usage
Similar to a slower running time, increased data usage is a bad sign that a hacker’s programs are taking up valuable space and energy on your phone. Check your phone’s performance status occasionally, or even set it up as a notification on your main screen. That way, you can always ensure that your data is being used at a reasonable pace.
Texts or calls you didn’t make
Some hackers will use your phone information to send texts or make phone calls under your name. When checking your inbox and call logs, make sure you remember sending all the recorded messages. If you don’t, that could mean a criminal sent them in your place.
Unusual logins to online accounts
Many of your online accounts are quick to send emails to you if they detect an unusual login attempt. Keep an eye on your messages and take action if you don’t remember logging into the accounts in question. Your creepy neighborhood hacker may have logged in to steal more information.
How to remove a hacker from your phone
If you think your phone has been hacked, never fear! It’s not the end of the world. There are many steps you can take to kick a hacker out of your device and resume a safe, peaceful life.
Delete all suspicious or unknown apps.
Your first course of action is to get rid of those new apps that recently appeared on your phone. Even if you downloaded one yourself, if you think it could be a source of malware, delete it immediately. This could remove the hacker’s first line of attack, thus making your phone a bit more secure.
Invest in anti-malware software.
Many programs exist to protect your phone from malware. Look for antivirus protection, as well as malware protection and removal software. These programs may cost money, but the safety they offer you is well worth it.
Reset passwords to all online accounts.
It’s possible that hackers have stolen all your passwords and are using them to access more of your private information. Take the time to go through your online accounts, changing passwords so that each account has a unique, complex password. Worried about forgetting all your new passwords? Write them on a physical piece of paper that you can keep in a safe place. Don’t store them on your phone for now, since you know a hacker has recently gained access.
Factory reset your device.
Factory reset may sound scary, but it is a good way to kick a hacker out of your device. This option is fairly easy to find in your phone’s general settings. Keep in mind that factory reset will lose all your stored data in your phone, so back up your device first. But if it’s an option of losing your data, or losing the hacker, you probably want to lose the hacker!
How to factory reset an Apple phone
Go to General Settings and select to transfer or reset your device. Under this, you will tap “Erase All Content and Settings.” You may be asked to enter your Apple ID passcode. You’ll need to confirm once again that you want to erase your content and settings. Once this is done, just wait for your phone to finish resetting.
How to factory reset an Android phone
Once your settings are open, you can simply type “reset” into the search bar to find the “Factory reset” option. Click “reset device.” You may be prompted to enter your password at this point. Once signed in, click “reset all” and wait for your phone to complete the reset.
Android also has a safe mode, meaning that settings may not be accessible. But you can factory reset using the buttons on your phone. Turn off your device and hold the power and volume down buttons until a load screen shows up. Using your volume buttons to navigate, select “Recovery mode.” Press the power button; once your phone powers back on, use the volume buttons to navigate to “Wipe data/factory reset.” Confirm by pushing the power button.
Protect your phone and yourself with IDShield security.
It can be overwhelming to try to protect your devices all by yourself. And once a hacker has gotten into your phone, you may not know what to do next. That’s why IDShield is here to help.
We monitor your personal information across many different platforms, including bank accounts, social media channels, major credit bureaus, dark web and more. If we notice any suspicious activity, we alert you immediately and provide next steps to help you manage your information.
Cybersecurity is a critical part of our services. Stay safe with our world-class VPN, malware protection, and parental controls to maintain privacy online. We also offer password protection so you can keep all your unique, complex login information secure.
In case identity theft does occur, we offer the full-service identity restoration you deserve. You have Licensed Private Investigators on your side who are willing to do whatever it takes, as long as it takes, to restore your identity to its pre-theft status. We are on your side every step of the way.
It’s easy to start protecting your phone, your identity, and your peace of mind with IDShield. All you have to do is sign up, and you will begin receiving 24/7 monitoring of your identity, reputation, finances, credit and more. You’ll get instant alerts about potential fraud. You will have access to identity theft specialists for 24/7 emergency help on covered identity-related issues. And we even offer an up to $3 million protection guarantee,* meaning that we provide up to $3 million in coverage for the lawyers and experts you need to fix identity theft that may occur while you’re an IDShield Member.
Find out more about how IDShield can help keep you safe and secure.
IDShield is a product of Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. d/b/a LegalShield (“LegalShield”). LegalShield provides access to identity theft protection and restoration services. IDShield plans are available at individual or family rates. For complete terms, coverage, and conditions, please see an identity theft plan. This is meant to provide general information and is not intended to provide legal or tax advice, render an opinion, or provide any specific recommendations.
*An Identity Fraud Protection Plan (“Plan”) is issued through a nationally recognized carrier. IDShield is not an insurance carrier. This covers certain identity fraud expenses and legal costs as a result of a covered identity fraud event.