Smartphones contain so much important and personal information that the very idea of your phone being hacked is a nightmare. You'll immediately think, "how do I know if my phone is being hacked?"
Do you suspect your phone was hacked or is constantly running into problems? Don't panic: there are a few telltale signs that can identify if your phone has actually been compromised. Here's how to tell if your phone has been hacked.
How to Know if Your Phone Is Hacked
Phones can run into technical problems all the time, but any type of bizarre behavior should be taken seriously.
Here are the most common warning signs that indicate your phone might have been hacked.
Your Phone Is Slower Than Usual
Is your phone loading pages very slowly and crashing frequently? Or does it take quite a long time to send text messages, make calls, and access the web? An unusually sluggish phone can indicate a breach, especially if you have ample memory and all the latest software updates in place.
It could also be a malware attack—as malware works behind the scenes, draining your phone's processing resources—which can result in a sluggish performance.
Try shutting down your phone and see what happens. Hacked phones often don't shut down easily or don't shut down at all.
You Are Seeing Strange Pop-Up Ads
Receiving a few pop-ups here and there doesn't mean that your phone is hacked. But, if you are receiving constant pop-up alerts, it could mean that your phone is infected with adware.
Adware is a type of malware that forces devices to view certain pages, so cybercriminals can collect revenue through clicks. These could also be phishing attempts, where users are encouraged to type sensitive info by clicking on pop-ups.
Either way, strange and constant pop-ups are good indicators of a hacked phone and should be on your radar.
There’s a Noticeable Decrease in Battery Life
A phone's battery life may decrease over time, but if you are seeing sudden drainage of battery without a change in your phone usage, then it could indicate it's been compromised.
It's also possible that a spying app is installed on your phone, causing it to drain your phone's resources as it runs in the background and sends data to cybercriminals.
Apps Crashing Randomly
It's normal for apps to crash at times but if you see multiple apps crashing in a relatively short span of time, then don't discount the possibility of a compromise.
Most likely, it's a sign that there's harmful software or code on your phone that is preventing apps from loading.
You Notice Unknown Outgoing Calls or Texts
If you suddenly see lists of calls or text messages sent to numbers that you don't recognize, your smartphone has likely been hacked. Cybercriminals make money by forcing malware into your phone which then makes calls to premium-rate numbers or forwarding on personal information.
Always check your phone bill for any costs you don’t recognize.
Unusually High Data Usage Due to Spyware
An unusual spike in your data bill is a telltale sign that something fishy is going on.
A high bill could come from malware or spy apps running in the background, and sending information back to their malicious server.
Email Delivery Failures
If you notice your email exhibiting bizarre behavior, don't ignore it.
A breached phone might receive email delivery failure notifications or suspicious sign-in alerts indicating that someone has been using your account for spamming and other malicious activities. You might also notice emails that have been marked as read, whereas you have not viewed them yet.
Unusual Activity on Accounts Linked to Your Phone
Like bizarre emails, weird behavior on accounts linked to your devices (such as Gmail, iCloud, or social media accounts) suggests a phone hack.
Watch out for any emails about password resets that you didn't request, messages notifying that your social media accounts were accessed using a new account, or that you have created a new account.
Reduced Quality of ScreenShots
If your phone has a high-quality camera, but you are suddenly seeing a drop in the quality of your screenshots, then it could be a keylogger attack.
A keylogger is a type of spyware that lets hackers eavesdrop on your activities as they steal data by recording your keystrokes.
What to Do if You Suspect Your Device Was Hacked
Hackers can infect devices with malware, taking hold of our personal information, stealing money through ransomware attacks, or simply invading our privacy. Whatever the reason, it is important that we prevent the hackers from succeeding.
If you suspect that your phone was hacked, run smartphone security and anti-malware software, and get rid of any apps that you don't recognize. Restoring the phone to the default factory setting also helps, but this will completely wipe all your data, so you'll need to have a back-up that's made before your device was infected. That can be hard to determine.
Going forward, always use internet security software on your phone, only reinstall apps from trusted app stores, and never let your beloved phone out of your sight!