Not only computers are targeted by hackers, but also smartphones. The vast number of ways a hacker could get in on a victim’s computer has a wide variety of ways, so it is always advised to have a secured application such as remote desktop software, antivirus, anti-spyware, and many more.
The days when a cellphone was merely used for making calls are long over; a modern smartphone is a miniature computer powerhouse that can handle a vast amount of information. As a result, your smartphone contains a treasure trove of personal and financial information, which can leave you at risk should your security be compromised.
So, to answer the question: Can a smartphone be hacked? The answer is most definitely. Whether you use an Apple or Android based smartphone, it is wise to keep your device secure. In this article, we will review the ways in which potential hackers will attempt to gain access to your device, and the ways in which you can increase your smartphone’s security.
How can my Device be Hacked?
There are several ways in which a smartphone can be hacked; using hacking software, phishing, hacking using a phone number, SIM card hacking and Bluetooth hacking.
- Hacking Software
This type of attack occurs when a hacker makes use of customized hacking software to gain access to your device. In most cases, an app needs to be installed on your device whether the hacker installs it themselves, or tricks the phone’s owner into installing it.
Phishing can be defined as when hackers impersonate a company or trusted individual in order to gain confidential information from an unsuspecting user. Hackers use this common method by sending legitimate-looking image, codes or even message, it is found commonly in email and text messages. When this malicious content is clicked on, the URLs can hack your phone because the link has been infected with a hacking virus or software that can take your personal information. It is always wise to download apps for your device that come from a reputable and reliable source.
- Hacking using a Phone Number
This particular method of hacking is unlikely to affect most users, but it is good to be aware of nonetheless. This method of hacking requires the hacker to have extensive knowledge of SS7 signaling (the system which connects cellphone networks to each other). It is possible to record calls, read messages and track locations of a device while using this method, but due to the level of difficulty involved in this form of hacking, it is very unlikely that one will come across it.
- SIM Card Hacking
Using this method, the hacker makes contact with your service provider, and while pretending to be you, requests a replacement SIM card. Once the service provider activates the new SIM and sends it to the hacker, the old SIM card will cease to work and your number, along with the personal data stored on it, will be stolen. This method of hacking relies on the hacker being able to convince the service provider that they are you, which is why it is vital to keep your personal information safe.
- Bluetooth Hacking
It is possible for professional hackers to use custom software to search for vulnerable devices while on an active Bluetooth connection. This method of hacking is most successful in densely populated areas, due to the short range in which Bluetooth operates.
What are the Symptoms of a Hacked Smartphone?
- Device Performance Differences
If you notice that your smartphone has been performing much slower, web pages take longer to load and the battery seems to drain faster than usual, these could be signs of malware running on the smartphone. If you notice a much higher data usage than usual, which you cannot account for, this could also be a warning of potential malware on your device.
- Mysterious App or Data
If you discover new apps installed on your phone, or calls, texts or emails that you did not send, this could be due to a hacker infiltrating your device. Malware may present itself in the form of suspicious pop-ups, changes to your home screen or bookmarks to suspicious looking websites.
- Suspicious Activity
Malicious software such as malware can often affect your device at a root level, which can sometimes cause it to misbehave in unexpected ways. It is not uncommon for an infected device to receive strange texts with jumbled symbols, or to experience interference when making calls.
How can I Prevent my Smartphone from being Hacked?
While there are many ways in which a hacker can attempt your device’s security, there are various methods which you can use to increase your smartphone’s security.
- Keep your phone in your possession and never leave it unattended
The easiest way for a hacker to steal your phone’s information is to gain physical access to it. It is always important to keep your phone in your possession, especially while in public places.
- Device Encryption
Encrypting your smart phone can save you from being hacked as it can protect your calls, messages, and other critical information. To check if a device is encrypted: iPhone users can go into Touch ID & Passcode, scroll to the bottom, and enable Data protection. Android users have automatic encryption depending on the type of phone.
- SIM Card Locking
Setting up a password on your SIM card can protect it from being hacked. Setting this code can be done on an iPhone by going to Settings > Cellular > SIM PIN. Enter your existing PIN to enable the lock.
Android users can go to Settings > Lock screen and Security > Other security settings > Set up SIM card lock.
- Turn Off WIFI and Bluetooth
It is fairly easy for hackers to connect to your phone using WIFI or Bluetooth, so turn off these features when not in use, as there is no warning when a hacker can be attempting to attack you. If you fear being hacked in a public space, turning off your phone can greatly hamper a hacker’s ability to hack you.
- Lock your device & don’t store passwords
Make sure that you are using a secure password or facial ID to lock your device when you’re not using it. In this way, your sensitive files will be safe even if you lose your phone
It is important not to save password or login information for banking apps and other sensitive accounts.
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi
Free public Wi-Fi networks, like those offered in hotels and airports, are often unsecured; this allows hackers to to potentially see the information you are sending over the network. Also, be wary of using public charging stations, unless you choose a ‘charging only’ cable that cannot access your data.