The latest figures from Ofcom show that an estimated 84 per cent of adults across the UK own a smartphone and spend on average two hours and 34 minutes every day online keeping in touch with family, friends and work colleagues or updating social media accounts with their latest pictures and posts, browsing the internet, shopping or doing a spot of mobile banking.
Mobile phones have become a natural extension of ourselves, an integral part of our daily routine and the one source for most, if not all, of our personal and financial details.
And while the thought of hackers accessing our mobile phone doesn’t bear thinking about, it does happen.
While there is no reliable data on this for 2021 yet, the most recent figures collated in 2018 show that over 2.5 billion accounts were hacked in that year around the world.
That’s the equivalent of roughly 6.85 million accounts being hijacked every day, or 158 every second.
Most people and small businesses don’t think they can be victims of hacking, but the frightening truth is that cybercriminals are ruthless and will target anyone.
And despite the efforts of Google and Apple, mobile malware continues to land in official app stores – and these malicious apps are getting trickier to spot from the outset.
According to the McAfee 2020 Mobile Threat Report, over half of mobile malware apps “hide” on a device, without a homescreen icon, hijacking the device to serve unwanted ads, post bogus reviews, or steal information that can be sold or used to hold victims to ransom.
And while iPhones can be hacked, more malware targets Android devices.
Malware can also include spyware that monitors a device’s content, programs that harness a device’s internet bandwidth for use in a botnet to send spam, or phishing screens that steal a user’s logins when entered into a compromised, legitimate app.
Experts at Techiliciious.com have compiled a list of seven signs that your mobile phone may have been hacked, so even if you think your device is secure, this list may indicate otherwise.
1. Battery life suddenly starts to decrease
While a mobile phone’s battery life inevitably decreases over time, a smartphone that has been compromised by malware may start to display a significantly decreased lifespan.
This is because the malware, usually a spying app, may be using up phone resources to scan the device and transmit the information back to a criminal server.
Just bear in mind, simple everyday use can also run the battery down, especially if you’re consuming a lot of media content.
2. Sluggish performance
If your phone is frequently freezing, crashing or feeling a bit glitchy this could be down to malware that is overloading the phone’s resources or clashing with other applications.
You may also experience continued running of applications despite efforts to close them, or even have the phone itself crash and/or restart repeatedly.
One to watch out for here are apps that add bells and whistles to contact information – quite literally. These apps often offer personalisation otherwise unavailable to iPhone or Android users, but can sometimes be tricky to remove because they are cleverly disguised malware apps.
3. High data usage
Another sign of a compromised phone is an unusually high data bill at the end of the month, which can come from malware or spy apps running in the background, sending information back to its server.
4. Outgoing calls or texts you didn’t send
If you’re seeing lists of calls or texts to numbers you don’t know, be wary – these could be premium-rate numbers that malware is forcing your phone to contact, the proceeds of which go directly into the cybercriminal’s wallet. The best thing to do here is check your phone bill regularly for additional costs.
5. Mystery pop-ups
While not all pop-ups mean your phone has been hacked, constant pop-up alerts could indicate that your phone has been infected with adware – a form of malware that forces devices to view certain pages that drive revenue through clicks.
Even if a pop-up isn’t the result of a compromised phone, many may be phishing links that attempt to get users to type in personal and financial information sensitive info, or download more malware.
6. Unusual activity on any accounts linked to the device
If a hacker has access to your phone, they also have access to its accounts – from social media to email to various lifestyle or productivity apps.
This could reveal itself in activity on your accounts, such as resetting a password, sending emails, marking unread emails that you don’t remember reading, or signing up for new accounts whose verification emails land in your inbox.
In this case, you could be at risk of identity fraud, where criminals open new accounts or lines of credit in your name, using information taken from your breached accounts.
It’s a good idea to change your passwords – without updating them on your phone – before running a security sweep on your phone itself.
7. Hot, Hot, Hot
Does your phone feel hot even if you haven’t been using it? That could be an indicator you’ve been hacked as extra activity will cause any device to heat up.
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What to do if your phone has been hacked
If you suspect your mobile phone has been compromised, don’t panic. The team at Techiliciious.com have also shared a quick checklist for you to run through to ensure your personal and financial details are protected quickly.
Delete unknown apps
If you can’t remember downloading it and don’t know what purpose it serves, it’s best to be safe and delete it.
Use antivirus software
There are plenty of good antivirus programs designed for all operating systems. This kind of software shields you from possible outside attacks. There are free versions available and most home broadband providers offer coverage on additional devices, including mobile phones.
Keep your phone updated
Regular updates will keep the phone’s defences up. You want your security system as up to date as possible. It may seem like an inconvenience, but ignoring that upgrade could cost you in the long run.
This should be a last resort. A factory reset will clear ALL your data from the phone and restore it to its original, default settings.
Your pictures, videos. settings, and everything else will be erased. In this case, any hacking program will be removed from the phone along with all your files.
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