Last Updated on October 24, 2020
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Smartphones give us great power; they are an amazing tool that fits in our pockets and allows us to perform a great variety of tasks and to be constantly connected to the wonderful world of the internet.
But, as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. You know why? Because you are responsible for keeping all your data safe.
Think about all the sensitive information stored in your smartphone: personal data, social security information, bank account details, credit cards, address, private photos, notes, e-mails… the list is endless. No wonder smartphones are some of the main targets for hackers.
Your smartphone can be hacked in several different ways. Just like your laptop, desktop computer, smart TV, or any electronic device connected to the internet.
Even if you make a responsible use and take various precautions. Therefore, it is important that we know how to identify some warning signs that tell us that the security of our smartphone (and ours) may have been compromised.
1. Battery draining faster than usual
When modern lithium-ion batteries surpass their cycle lifespan, they start losing their capacity and drain much faster than usual. That’s normal.
What’s definitely not normal is when the battery of your new smartphone drains much faster than expected with regular use. That’s a sign that something is wrong and there’s a chance that someone may have invaded your smartphone.
Malware and spyware are designed to run in the background and use the phone resources to scan the entire device for what the hacking is looking for. This also puts a lot of stress on your smartphone and its temperature may increase.
If you notice that your battery life is decreasing and your smartphone is getting randomly hot, it could be a sign that someone is tracking your phone.
2. Poor overall performance
Those pieces of malicious software running on your smartphone’s background can also affect its performance. Problems might include frequent freezing, certain apps crashing, or even the phone’s system itself crashing and automatically rebooting.
Over time, it is normal for smartphones to lose performance. You have to consider that apps become more demanding with their frequent updates but your system’s hardware remains the same. But a sudden performance loss could mean that someone other than you might be using your smartphone.
3. New apps that you didn’t install
One of the most obvious signs that you have been hacked is when a new app that you know for sure you have never installed appears on your smartphone menu.
This of course assuming that it is not an app provided by your smartphone’s manufacturer after a system update. A quick Google search will let you know if the newly installed app is, in fact, legitimate or a piece of malware designed to spy on your phone.
Everybody hates pop-up ads. They are annoying, intrusive, and have an extremely negative impact on our user experience. But the truth is that despite everything, they are an important source of revenue for some online services.
They can also be a clue that someone hacked your smartphone. There is a common form of malware called adware. As the name suggests, adware forces your device to open any website the hacker wants. This means that hackers can collect ad revenue by forcing thousands of users to click on ad links.
This turns out to be a very ingenious scheme. Internet users are already used to pop-up ads and are not likely to suspect that their smartphone is infected with adware – many don’t even know that such a thing exists.
5. Increase in data usage
Every time you upload your Instagram feed, send an email, receive a text, or make a payment, it means that data is being sent out from your phone. Your phone’s operating system has a functionality that allows you to track your device’s data usage.
This means that if there is any malicious software installed in your phone sending your data to the hacker’s server it will be registered in the data usage report. If you notice that something’s wrong with your smartphone, searching for large spikes in the uploaded data report might help you identify the problem.
6. Weird emails and texts
If your phone is randomly calling some weird numbers and sending texts to people you don’t know, be careful. Hackers use specific malware to make your phone contact premium-rate numbers.
This means that the hacker is receiving money for every call or text sent from your device. And that money is coming from your bank account, so make sure to check your phone bill for suspicious transactions.
7. Suspect activity smartphone accounts
If hackers have control over your smartphone, they also have control over all the accounts you have linked to the device. This includes bank account, social media, email, smart home apps, and many more.
In this case, the hackers can do anything they want; send emails, transfer money, change passwords, etc. And since the hacker has all your information, you are also at risk of identity fraud. This type of crime occurs when a person uses another’s personal information (without authorization, obviously) to commit another crime.
You need to be extremely careful and contact the authorities if you have reasons to suspect that you have been a victim of identity theft.
What to do if you suspect someone is spying on you:
Depending on the problem, sometimes cleaning your phone from spyware and malware is as simple as installing an anti-malware app. But if you really want to make sure you exclude the hacker from your phone, the best thing is to perform a factory reset. Just remember that this process will eliminate all your personal files from the device.
You might also need to contact your bank and inform them that your accounts might be at risk. Oh, and don’t forget to replace all your passwords!