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How to tell if your phone has been hacked and what to do if your fears are confirmed

Submitted on 10/08/2019

Have you noticed your smartphone operating in a strange way? Maybe battery power runs out incredibly fast, new apps appear on the screen, and your device heats up rapidly even if you haven't used it for several hours.

These and other less noticeable signs can indicate that your gadget has been hacked. In order to find out whether your personal data, including photos, pics, contacts, messages, passwords to social networks and/or payment apps are protected, you’ll want to check your phone. How you do so is based on  the sign or signs indicating that your device has been hacked. Even one positive answer can be cause for concern about the security of your privacy and wallet.

The signs of hacking

  • Your phone battery discharges too fast. If the battery of your mobile device is rapidly draining, reducing the device operating time by several hours compared to normal use, it's likely that malware is operating in the background.
  • Suspicious apps. If you see icons of new apps that you didn’t install in the general list , it might mean your device has been hacked.
  • Weird notifications. If weird messages with unreadable characters, links, or  requests for you to take action are appearing on the screen and you have nothing to do with it, it doesn't bode well.It might mean that hackers have already gained access to your data.
  • Unexplained financial statements. If your mobile account bears charges you are pretty sure you didn’t make, like calls to toll-free numbers, additional services, and  financial transactions, then your gadget is certainly hacked.
  • Operation failures. Strange signals during a conversation, extraneous noise, or disconnection when you have a good signal can show that somebody is using the microphone of your device and possibly listening to your conversations.

If you detected anything suspicious, you have to do everything possible to regain control over your device and life and not allow hackers to steal your personal data.

How to unhack your phone

  1. Check hacked phone for viruses. Most often data from mobile devices falls into the hands of hackers via malware, viruses that transmit information from your device directly to hackers. The easiest way to get a virus on your phone is to download an app from an untrusted source. The easiest way to find out whether your smartphone has viruses is to check it with an antivirus program, i.e. a program that detects and removes viruses.
  2. Check the statistics of battery usage. Battery should be discharged in direct proportion to the use of smartphone. You can track which apps consume the battery, including the ones running in the background, in the “Power consumption” section of your device.
  3. Get rid of suspicious apps. The presence of a large number of apps is definitely not useful and can mask the presence of harmful malware.. Therefore you should remove any suspicious apps from your smartphone. In the future, install apps only from the official markets and pay attention to the permissions you provide for their operation.
  4. Check the statistics of your phone mobile traffic usage. If you typically leave mobile internet on, check the statistics of data transfer in to track any suspicious activity of your device.
  5. Use only reliable Wi-Fi access points. Avoid using public Wi-Fi points for entering payment clients and making bank transfers or any other financial transactions. Public networks are poorly protected. There is a risk of connecting to a network belonging to hackers via which they'll be able to get their hands on your data. It won't do any harm to disable automatic connection.
  6. Update your phone to the latest version. You shouldn't ignore the system notifications about the release of a new version of your operating system. This is done in order to improve security level and fight updated threats. Believe us; you'd rather spend half an hour installing a new version of Android and rebooting your gadget than eliminating the consequences of hacking.
  7. Check your credit card account for any suspicious charges. Using mobile payment systems is very convenient, but by linking a card to your smartphone you're putting yourself at risk. If you don't want to deprive yourself of comfort but the security of your gadget has been violated, you should contact your bank and request the history of transactions. After you detect any suspicious transaction, take action even if you have to block the old account and open a new one.
  8. Change account passwords. Another way to protect yourself is to change passwords on any accounts that contain sensitive information. This might include banking apps, app stores, and any other apps that might allow or contain financial transactions and information. Social network sites and apps also contain a lot of personal information and passwords should be changed. If you are at all concerned that an app or account contains personal information, change the password.
  9. Perform a hard reset after creating a backup. The last resort is to perform a Hard Reset on your phone, after creating a backup copy of important data. If the methods you've tried previously are of no use, or you're afraid that you've missed some steps, you should roll your device back to its factory state by performing a Hard Reset. Hard Reset affects all data, including user data, so you'd better save in advance all important contacts, photos, notes and other information on a third-party storage device. After Hard Reset is done, your gadget will look as if it's just been taken "out of the box," i.e. you'll have to configure it for yourself again. This method is the most radical one since it provides an opportunity to completely remove all third-party apps. Doing a hard reset won’t help, however, if you don't work to protect your accounts  in advance by changing passwords.

How to protect your device

After breaking free of the spy you were carrying in your pocket, make sure to avoid getting in trouble again:

  • Increase protection. Create a complex password consisting of numbers and letters of different case and change it regularly. Avoid using well-known data like your pet's name, date of birth and etc. Disable memorization and use different passwords for different devices. A password vault, like LastPass, can help.
  • Use reliable sources. Download and install apps only from official websites and markets;
  • Stay one step ahead. Install antivirus software that can protect your data.
  • Clean regularly Create additional storage space for important files and delete unnecessary ones, including messages.
  • Filter what you open. Avoid following suspicious links or opening messages or attachments from strangers when using mobile email client.

By obeying these rules you'll be able to protect your data.

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