Our Mobile Phone is a particular hub for our digital lives, such as Banking, E-mails, Personal Data, and many more things.
Last Year it was revealed that android apps that were identical to legitimate secure messaging programs, including Signal & WhatsApp, tricking people in almost 20 countries into installing it. These apps were downloaded through a website called Secure Android, and once installed, gave hackers access to personal documents such as Photos, Location, Messages information, audio capture. According to EFF Staff Technology Cooper Quentin, Malware is not present in the software, but instead only needed “application permissions that users themselves allowed when they downloaded the apps, not realizing that they carried malware.”
Usually, Malware is downloaded from non-official sources, including phishing links sent via email or message or by any other method that’s why we should always download applications from official app stores – like the Apple App Store or Google Play. Some countries are unable to access certain apps from these sources.
Once the malware is online, other criminals are also able to misuse compromised devices. Malware includes spyware that observes a device’s information, programs, workings that tackle a device’s internet bandwidth to use in a botnet for sending spam, or phishing screens that steal a user’s logins when entered into an authorized application.
Also, there are commercial spy apps that need physical access to get downloaded on a mobile phone often done by the victim’s well-known person such as a partner or parent who can monitor everything that is occurring on the device.
Now coming to the point that “How do you know your phone is Hacked”
Signs That May Be Your Phone Has Been Hacked…
Strange activity on the accounts connected to the device
If a hacker has a way to your phone, they also have a way to your accounts of social media, E-mail, and also to various lifestyle apps. Hackers could reveal themselves by performing activities on your accounts, such as changing passwords, sending emails, marking unread emails.
In this case, you could be in danger of identification fraud, where hackers open new accounts or source of credit in your name, utilizing data taken from your violated accounts. It’s a good idea to change your account’s password without updating them on your phone.
High data consumption
When your Mobile Phone starts consuming too much of the Internet Data it may be because of malware or spy apps running in the background, which is sending information back to its server.
Outgoing calls or texts you didn’t know about
If you’re observing lists of calls or texts to numbers you don’t know, be careful these could be premium-rate numbers. It means malware is pushing your phone to communicate with someone you don’t know; the result(s) of which land in the cyber-crime wallet. In this case, check your mobile bill for any expenses you don’t recognize.
Not all pop-ups mean your phone has been hacked, constant pop-up alerts could mean that your phone has been infected with adware, which is a form of malware that pushes the devices to view specific pages that drive income by clicks. Many pop-ups are popped-up because they may be the phishing links that attempt to get users to type in sensitive information or download more malware.
The majority of such pop-ups can be compensated easily by shutting the window, though be sure you’re tapping on the right ‘X’, because many are outlined to shunt users towards tapping on the area that instead opens up the target, sometimes malicious, website.
Remarkable drop in battery life
A phone’s battery life surely reduces over time, a smartphone that has been hazarded by malware may start to reveal a significantly diminished lifespan. This is because the malware or spy app may be using up phone sources to scan the device and convey the data back to a wrongful server.
If you find your phone constantly freezing, or several applications crashing, this could be because malware that is burdening the phone’s sources or conflicting with other applications.
You may also experience continued working of applications despite attempts to stop them, or even have the mobile itself crash and/or restart frequently.
Emergency Steps to be Taken
If you’ve undergone any of these symptoms of a hacked mobile phone, the best first step is to download an antivirus.
For Android, you should go for Avast, which not only scans for malware but also gives a call blocker, firewall, VPN, and a feature to ask for PIN every time specific apps are used, and it also stops malware from using sensitive apps such as your online banking.
iPhones may be less likely to be hacked, but they aren’t completely protected. Lookout for iOS flags applications that are behaving maliciously, likely dangerous Wi-Fi networks, and if the iPhone has been jailbroken which raises its risk for hacking.
Ways through which your mobiles can be hacked
StingRays, and alike pretender wireless carrier towers, force nearby cell phones to drop their current carrier connection to join to the StingRay instead, enabling the device’s operators to observe calls and texts made by these devices, their movements, and the numbers of who they communicate.
As StingRays have a range of about 1km, an attempt to monitor a suspect’s phone in a crowded city center could result in tens of thousands of phones being tapped because of one.
Until late 2015, warrants weren’t needed for StingRay enabled cellphone tracking; currently, around a dozen countries ban the use of eavesdropping technology unless in criminal investigations, yet many bureaus don’t take permissions for their use.
While the average civilian isn’t the aim of a StingRay operation, it’s impossible to acknowledge what is done with data captured from non-targets, thanks to tight-lipped federal agencies.
How to defend yourself
- Use encrypted messaging and voice call apps, especially if you join a situation that could be of government affair, such as a protest. Signal and Whatsapp both encrypt texts and calls, stopping anyone from interfering with your communications. Most encryption in practice today isn’t weak, and a single phone call would take 10-15 years to decrypt.
- “The challenging point is, that the police have the legal power to do, hackers can do the same. “We’re no longer in the field of technology that requires millions and which only the military have access to. People to interfere with communications also have the strength to do so.”
Snooping via open Wi-Fi networks
Guessed that public Wi-Fi networks with full signal bars were too genuine to be true? It might just be. Eavesdroppers on an unsecured Wi-Fi network can observe all its unencrypted traffic. And evil public hotspots can redirect you to lookalike banking or email sites produced to capture your username and password. And it’s not certainly a sly manager of the corporation you’re visiting.
Any technophile person could download the required software to prevent and analyze Wi-Fi traffic including your next-door-neighbor having laughter at your monthly expense.
How to defend yourself
- Use secured networks where all traffic is encrypted by default during transmission to prevent others from snooping on your Wi-Fi signal.
- Download a VPN app to encrypt your smartphone traffic.
- If you want to connect with your mobile to a public WiFi network and don’t have a VPN app, avoid entering login details for banking sites or email. If you can’t avoid it, assure the URL in your address bar is the right one. And never enter private information unless you have a secure connection to the other site (look for “https” in the URL and a green lock icon in the address bar).
There is an excess of phone monitoring apps built to covertly trace someone’s location and look around on their communications.
Such apps can be used to see text messages, emails, internet history, and photos; log phone calls, and GPS locations; some may even highjack the phone’s mic to tape talks made in person. Almost anything a hacker could want to do with your device, these apps would allow them to do so.
Hackers could do everything they promised. Spy Apps are easy for anyone to install, and the person who was being observed on would be unknown that their every movement is being tracked.
“There aren’t too many signs of a secret spy app you might see higher internet traffic on your bill, battery life may be less than usual because the app is reporting back the actions and data to someone else,”.
Spy apps are obtainable on Google Play, as well as on non-official app stores for iOS and Android apps, making it much easy for anyone with access to your phone to download one.
How to defend yourself
- Since installing spy apps need a physical way to your device, settling a passcode on your mobile greatly decreases the possibilities of someone being able to access your phone in the first place. Since spy apps are usually installed by someone familiar to you, choose a code that won’t be figured by anyone else.
- Go through a list of apps for ones you don’t notice.
- Never jailbreak your iPhone. “If a device isn’t jailbroken, all apps show up. “If it is jailbroken, spy apps are capable to hide deep in the device, and whether security software can’t find it easily. It depends on the elegance of the spy app.”
- Ensuring that your phone isn’t jailbroken also stops anyone from downloading a spy app to your phone, since such software that interferes with system-level functions isn’t available on the official App Store.
- Download a mobile security app according to your mobile’s operating system.
Phishing by communication
Whether it’s a text declaring to be from your economic organization, or a friend urging you to check out any photo of you last night, SMSes holding false links that point to scrape sensitive data and information is known as phishing or “smishing”
Android phones may also fall victim to messages with links to download malicious apps. The same scam isn’t accepted for iPhones, because most of the iPhones are generally non-jailbroken and hence can’t download apps from anyplace except the App Store.
Such malicious apps may reveal a user’s phone data, or hold a phishing overlay intended to steal login data from targeted apps for example- a user’s bank or email app.
Though people have acquired to be doubtful of emails asking them to “click to see this funny video!”, security lab Kaspersky notes that they lead to be less careful+ on their phones.
How to protect yourself
- Keep in mind how you habitually verify your identity with your different accounts, for example, your bank will never request you to enter your full password or PIN.
- Avoid tapping on the links from the numbers you don’t know, or in curiously obscure messages from friends, especially if you can’t view the full URL.
- If you do tap on the link and end up downloading an app, your Android phone may notify you. Delete the app or run a mobile security scan.
SS7 global phone network hack
A communication protocol for mobile networks across the world, Signalling System No 7 (SS7), has a vulnerability that permits hackers to spy on the text messages, phone calls, and locations, outfitted only with someone’s mobile phone number. If the two-factor authentication codes sent through texts are intercepted, an active hacker could access shielded accounts, wrecking financial and personal devastation.
Law enforcement and intelligence bureaus use the deed to prevent cell phone data, and hence don’t certainly have a great reason to see that it gets reinforced.
Unless you’re a political leader, CEO, or another person whose information could hold high value for criminals. Journalists or dissenters traveling in politically restless countries may be at high risk for phone tapping.
How to defend yourself
- Use an end-to-end encrypted message service that works over the internet (thus bypassing the SS7 protocol), WhatsApp, Signal, and Wickr Me all encrypt messages and calls, stopping anyone from hijacking or interfering with your communications.
- Be conscious that if you are in a likely triggered group your phone conversations could be observed and act correspondingly.
Unapproved access to iCloud or Google account
Hacked iCloud and Google accounts allow a way to a shocking amount of information withdrew up from your device pictures, phonebooks, location, messages, call logs, and in the case of the iCloud Keychain, stored passwords to email accounts, browsers and other apps. And there are spyware dealers out there who especially market their commodities against these vulnerabilities.
Online hackers may not perceive much value in the photos unlike nude images of famous personalities that are immediately leaked but they acknowledge the owners of the photos do, says Wisniewski, which can drive to accounts and their content being handled digitally captive unless victims pay a bribe.
Additionally, a cracked Google account implies a cracked Gmail, the initial email for many users.
Having a way to a primary email can drive to domino-effect hacking of all the reports that email is connected to your Facebook account to your mobile carrier account, covering the way for an intensity of identity burglary that would severely compromise your credit.
“This is a big gamble. All a hacker needs is an email address; no access to the phone, nor the phone number. If you proceed to use your name in your email address, your initial email address to sign up for iCloud/Google, and a weak password that includes personally identifiable knowledge, it wouldn’t be tough for a hacker who can easily discover such data from social networks or search engines.
How to protect yourself
- Generate a strong password for certain key accounts.
- Allow login notifications so you’re informed of sign-ins from different networks or places.
- Approve two-factor authentication so that even if someone recognizes your password they can’t access your account without access to your phone.
- To stop someone from resetting your password, lie when placing up password security questions. You would be amazed at how many security questions rely on data that is simply available on the WEB or is generally known by your family and friends.
Malicious charging stations
Well-chosen for a time when mobiles almost last the day and Google is the main means to not get lost, this hack leverages our universal need for consuming our phone battery, malware be doomed. Malicious charging stations including malware-loaded devices take benefit of the matter that regular USB cables transfer data as well as charge battery. Older Android phones may even automatically fix the hard drive against connection to any computer, revealing its data to an unethical owner.
Defense researchers have also shown it’s potential to hijack the video-out specialty on most modern mobiles so that when plugged into a malicious charge center, a hacker can monitor each keystroke, including passwords and raw data.
There are no universally known cases of hackers utilizing the video-out function, while newer Android phones ask for approval to load their hard drive when connected into a new computer; iPhones ask for a PIN. However, new vulnerabilities may be determined.
How to defend yourself
- Don’t plug your mobile phone into unknown computers; bring a wall charger.
- If a public computer is your only possibility to restore a dead battery, select the “Charge only” option (Android phones) if you get a pop-up when you plugged in, then deny way from the different computer (iPhone).