According to The National Center of Victims of Crime, in a 12-month period, it is estimated that 3.4 million people aged 18 or older were victims of stalking. 1 of 4 of these victims reported some form of cyberstalking. While even this statistic is alarming, this was reported in 2009 and is likely much more common now, since mobile phones and devices are much more popular now. For many, mobile phones are central to life, as they house your connection to the outside world. Your work, your entertainment, your calendar, etc. are all in your device. This makes mobile phones a common device to hack because there is so much information to be gained, and users typically don’t have anti-virus or a firewall on their phones.
Here’s How You Can Protect Yourself
Whether you have an iPhone or Android phone, there are ways to protect yourself from “stalkerware”. Android phones are more susceptible to stalkerware because they don’t have as many precautions against hacking as iPhones do. But this doesn’t make iPhones resistant to hacking. If you believe your device could at some point be hacked, you can download an anti-stalkerware app from the app store to detect stalkerware. However, Apple App Store doesn’t have anti-stalkerware apps available because Apple claims that their devices don’t need them. If you have an iPhone, there are still ways you can protect yourself. Always make sure the iOS version is up to date on your device, that you have a strong passcode, and that you have two-factor authentication set up for your Apple ID.
Signs Your Phone Has Been Hacked
One of the main signs of a computer being hacked is pop-ups. These can occur anywhere and everywhere on the device, not just in a browser. When a phone is hacked, the same can happen; you could start seeing pop-ups. Pop-ups could appear on the lock screen of your phone, home screen, or even as an overlay when you have an app open. If you are seeing these pop-ups, it is a good sign that you may have clicked on something malicious.
Noticing Unknown Apps on Your Phone
Apps are an open gate for hackers into your phone. An app enabling a hacker to enter your device could have been put there by a hacker, but it also could have (unknowingly) been put there by you. Apple has a system in place to approve apps for publishing to the app store. This eliminates a lot of apps that could have, upon installation, made your phone vulnerable. Google Play store for Android is a little more lenient on what apps can make it into the app store. As aforementioned, this is what makes android phones a little more susceptible to hacking. But even though these precautions are in place by Apple, it doesn’t make them completely safe from malicious activity.
If you notice apps that you know you haven’t installed or you don’t know what their purpose is, it is a good idea to go ahead and uninstall it. That way you aren’t leaving the door open, so to speak, for hackers to come on in.
If You Receive Texts From an Unknown Number
Sometimes when a hacker is in your device, you could receive text messages from an unknown number asking you to click a link. Unbeknownst to you, this link could give the hacker remote access to your device and allow them to have all control over it.
Cell Phone is Slow
Cell phones are built to run quickly, so if your device is running slow, something could be going on. Several things could cause a cellphone to run slow. It could be something harmless; such as the device having too many applications running, or your cell phone being in need of an update. Or it could also be something harmful; such as an app running in the background placed there by the hacker.
The Phone is Glitching
If the phone is acting “weird” and doing things such as turning on and off by itself, freezing, or your apps aren’t working, it is a good possibility that your phone was exposed to some malicious software.
The Phone is Getting Hot
It is not uncommon for a cell phone to get warm while you are using it. Especially if you have many browser pages or apps open. However, if you haven’t been using it for an hour or you are using it very lightly and it’s warm, this could be a sign that a hacker is in your phone. As I mentioned before, hackers use apps to gain access to phones. A warm phone is a sign that many apps could be running in the background.
Not only can having many apps running in the background make your phone warm, but it can also drain your device’s battery. If you notice your phone’s battery going dead quickly for no apparent reason, if could be a hacker in your phone causing it to die.
Unexpected Data Usage
When a hacker is in your phone, you could see a spike in your phone bill. This is most likely because the hacker is over-using your allotted mobile data by leaving apps running in the background. The hacker uses these apps to access your phone and its data.
What To Do if You Think Your Phone Has Been Hacked
Delete Unknown Apps
If you notice apps on your phone that you didn’t install, or apps that don’t seem to have a purpose to them, it is a good idea to err on the side of caution and uninstall or delete them.
Always be careful when installing apps and only install apps that you know you can trust. It is also advised that you pay attention to what you are agreeing to when you first open and app and be skeptical of the permissions it is asking you to grant.
Get Antivirus Software
It’s obviously a good idea to get this before you’re hacked, but in the case that you already have been, then you can still use an antivirus to help rid your phone of the virus. There are free versions of antivirus available, but in order to receive superior protection, it’s best to invest in a paid antivirus software.
Factory Reset Your Phone
To be extra cautious, and/or to get rid of a deeply-rooted virus, you can factory reset your phone. This restores the phone to how you got it out of the box. All apps that don’t come with the device will be deleted, knocking out any app the hacker could have been using to access your phone, and shutting them down.