Securing Your Device against Cybercriminals: The Danger of Phone Hacking
Apple’s recent warning to prominent opposition leaders and journalists about possible state-sponsored hacking of iPhones has sparked controversy across 150 countries, While the hacking of phones by cybercriminals using spyware has long been a concern, Apple’s alert has thrust this threat into the spotlight. Mobile devices have become essential in our daily lives, as we store important information and use it to connect with the world.
However, these devices have also made us more vulnerable to cybercriminals who are ready to access our private information. Phone hacking has become rampant and a major threat to mobile device users. It is, therefore, crucial to be aware of the threats and understand how we can protect our devices. In this blog post, we will take an in-depth look at phone hacking and provide tips on how to protect your phone from cybercriminals.
Here is what you need to know about phone hacking, detecting it, and safeguarding your device.
Cybercriminals typically install malicious software to secretly infiltrate smartphones and steal personal data. They can operate the device without consent, adding rogue apps and misusing the phone. No smartphone is completely impenetrable, and vulnerabilities do emerge periodically. However, consistent abnormal behavior may indicate your phone has been compromised. Watch for these potential signs of hacking:
Possible Signs Your Phone is Hacked
- Unusually high data usage could signify malware communication with its server. Monitor consumption if you have an unlimited plan.
- A sudden increase in pop-up ads and unsolicited messages may indicate malware infection.
- Unknown apps you never downloaded appearing on your phone point to foul play.
- Strange outgoing calls you never made in your call log signify unauthorized use.
- Lagging performance, slow app loading, and overheating with minimal use suggest background processes running from spyware.
- A spike in spam calls or texts from unfamiliar numbers can signify a compromised device.
- Disabled security features like screen locks and antivirus you did not turn off yourself are alarming.
Steps if You Suspect Your Phone is Hacked
If you believe your phone is hacked, act swiftly:
- Inform all contacts about potential hacking so they are aware of suspicious messages.
- Turn off mobile data and WiFi to cut the hacker’s access.
- Run anti-malware and antivirus scans to detect and eliminate malware. Schedule regular future scans.
- Check permissions of any identified rogue apps to see what data they may have accessed. Update online accounts accordingly if sensitive info was exposed.
- After removing malware, reset all passwords. Use strong, unique passwords for each account.
- Enable two-factor authentication on important apps for added security.
- Review and revoke unnecessary app permissions providing access to contacts, messages, camera, etc.
- Regularly back up your data in case you need to factory reset if the issue persists. Do not backup any suspected malware apps, just note safe apps to reinstall after resetting.
- If you cannot resolve the problem yourself, seek help from cybersecurity professionals.
Common Hacking Techniques Used by Cybercriminals
- Phishing uses malicious links in emails, texts, and calls to steal personal information by impersonating trusted entities.
- Smishing involves fraudulent text messages to trick users into surrendering their information.
- Spyware like adware, trojans, and keystroke loggers are secretly installed to harvest data.
- Insecure public WiFi makes it easy for hackers to infiltrate phones.
- Malicious apps from third-party stores can contain malware and compromise security.
Safeguarding Your Phone from Hackers
- Never store passwords or financial information on your phone. Use a password manager instead.
- Create strong, complex passwords that are difficult to crack.
- Lock important apps with a password, fingerprint, or face recognition.
- Turn off Bluetooth when not in use.
- Watch for abnormal battery drainage or device overheating.
- Promptly install operating system and app updates.
- Use a reputable mobile security app.
- Exercise caution with links and downloads. Avoid sideloading unofficial apps.
- Regularly back up data to the cloud or external storage.
- Learn safe browsing and app permission best practices.
- Seek expert help if you cannot resolve a security issue yourself.
Vigilance is key to protecting your phone from hacking. But with prudent precautions, you can greatly reduce this risk and safeguard your device.