Think Your Phone Has Been Hacked? Here’s What to Do Next | #android | #security

Making calls, sending emails, buying tickets, taking photos, creating reminders, paying bills, checking our bank balances: these are just a few activities that we do on our phones. This is why keeping devices secure is of vital importance.

But what are the chances of a cybercriminal accessing your phone? How can you find out if your phone has been hacked? Here’s what signs to look for if you think that your iPhone or Android device may have been hacked and what actions to take in such a situation.

Can My iPhone or Android Phone Be Hacked?

Unfortunately, anyone can be vulnerable to phone hacking. It doesn’t matter whether you use an Android or iPhone; it can happen to any smartphone.

The information located on your device can be highly attractive to both cybercriminals and even acquaintances. Therefore the list of reasons for someone might hack your smartphone is endless—and includes getting access to your photos and private data, reading your text messages, stealing money, and so on.

How to Tell if Your Phone Has Been Hacked

Have a gut feeling that your phone has been hacked? It could’ve happened in seconds—you may have downloaded an app with malware installed, clicked on a malicious link, or used unsecured public Wi-Fi.

Here are the main five signs that you should be on the lookout for that may confirm your worst fears.

1. Increased Data Usage

There can be different reasons for this, such as uploading high-quality pics, automatically updating apps, or faster network speeds. If you think that nothing of this sort has changed, but the data usage has still skyrocketed, then there is a possibility that your phone has been hacked.

To check how much data was used by your iPhone, head to Settings > Mobile Data.

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If you have an Android, then open the Settings and go to Connections > Data usage.

Check whether there are any unusual data usage spikes. If you notice some unknown app that is using up most of your allowance, then it may be the problem here.

In such a case, you should uninstall that application. (You’ll need to take further measures too in case the damage is already done, but we’ll come back to that.)

2. Bizarre Behaviour

Smartphones often begin to operate unusually when infected with a virus. For example, your phone may automatically open apps without you doing anything, operate extremely slowly, or restart for no reason. If you notice anything like this, there’s a chance that you have malware running in the background.

Related: How to Ensure Your Android Phone Is Up-to-Date and Secure

3. Poor Performance

If it’s taking forever for your phone to load apps, it quickly overheats, or the battery drains at an excessive rate, it may be a sign that your smartphone has been compromised.

Check out the battery usage menu on your device to see if there is any unusually named app that’s killing the battery. On an Android, head to Settings > Battery > Battery Usage.

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If you’re using an iPhone, then head to Settings > Battery.

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4. Unauthorized Credit Card Purchases

Keep a close eye on your credit card statements. If you spot weird purchases that you didn’t make, then there’s definitely something going on. Of course, your smartphone might not be to blame; it can be another form of credit card fraud.

Related: How Credit Card Fraud Works and How to Stay Safe

To prevent this from happening, always look carefully through a site before making a purchase and entering your credit card details. Check its SSL certificate, of instance. If the site you’re visiting seems suspicious, with lots of weird pop-ups and ads, don’t type in any personal or financial information.

5. Suspicious Text Messages

Is your phone sending weird messages to random numbers? This is a clear sign you’ve been hacked. The thing that may be causing this is a random app that appeared on your phone without you even knowing it.

Look for any dubious apps that have access to your messages. If you notice this, you should revoke its access immediately and delete it. To find out which app exactly is causing this issue on your iPhone, head to Settings > Privacy.

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On an Android, open the Settings app and navigate to Privacy > Permission manager.

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What to Do if Your Phone Has Been Hacked

You’ve determined that there’s malware lurking on your smartphone. Now you need to know how to remove a hacker from your iPhone or Android device.

The first thing that you should try is to look for any apps that you don’t remember downloading. If you’re using an iPhone, navigate to Settings and scroll down to see all of the apps on your device. (Its folders mean you might not see all the apps on your homescreen anyway, so this is the best method.)

If your phone is an Android, then head to Settings > Apps > App Manager. Carefully look through the list of apps on your device and if you find a suspicious app, tap it, and select Uninstall.

You should also install antivirus software. There are plenty of effective ones on Google Play for Android users, such as Sophos Intercept X. This app is completely free to use and offers many useful features, such as scanning apps for malware, web filtering, a link checker, Wi-Fi security, and more.

Related: Do You Need Antivirus Apps on Android? What About iPhone?

Apple offers strong protection, but we always advise additional security anyway. You will be at higher risk of getting hacked if your device is jailbroken, however.

After removing any suspicious apps, get your security suite to scan your entire device for any remaining malicious software.

Another method that you can try to remove the hacker from your phone is to factory reset the device. But before moving forward with this, know that it will wipe everything from your phone, including your contacts, photos, apps, and other files.

So it is best to have a backup version of your phone—but make sure it’s from before the malicious app was added. Otherwise, you’re merely downloading malware again. You may still lose data, depending on your last backup.

To factory reset your Android phone, you should do the following:

  1. Hook the device to the charger.
  2. Open the Settings menu and head to System > Reset options.
  3. Tap Erase all data (factory reset).
  4. Then your phone will ask you the PIN; type it in. Tap Erase all data once again to confirm your decision.

If you are using an iPhone, then do this to factory reset it:

  1. Connect your device to the charger.
  2. Launch the Settings app and tap on General.
  3. Scroll down to the bottom of the menu and tap Reset.
  4. Select Erase All Content and Settings.
  5. If you have an iCloud Backup, the phone will ask you whether you want to update the backup or erase it right away. You’ll need to decide whether it’s worth potentially deleting precious photos and messages.

Be Smart About What You Download

No matter whether you’re using an Android or iPhone, you should always think twice before downloading apps outside the authorized app stores since they may contain malware.

But you can even accidentally download malicious software when using public Wi-Fi. Monitor the phone’s activity frequently so that if something bad is happening, you’d know right away.

7 Secure Strategies to Use Public Wi-Fi Safely on Phones

Is that public Wi-Fi network you just connected to safe? Before you sip your latte, and read Facebook, consider these simple secure strategies to using public Wi-Fi safely on your phone.

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