Phone hacking has become the new promising frontier for hackers. With people handling their phone's security so casually and loading random useless apps so readily and without hesitation, cell phones have become easy targets for hackers.
More importantly, few people seem concerned with having all of their personal and business contacts in their phone and conducting banking and credit card purchases through such an insecure device.
These facts, mixed with your phone being an excellent way to track you, mean that even your spouse may have had motivation to hack your phone.
In this article we are going to tell you how to how to remove a hacker from your phone.
What To Do If Your Phone Has Been Hacked
1. Perform a factory reset to remove a hacker from your phone
A factory reset is the only way to be absolutely certain you have removed a hacker from your phone. Other less extreme measures, such as removing suspicious apps or running antivirus software, may remove a hacker but you will never be able to know if they are really gone.
Performing a factory reset will result in losing all of the data on your phone, but it will also fully remove any malware hackers have installed and provide you with peace of mind going forward.
Before performing a factory reset, you should use a newly formatted SD card to back up your pictures, videos, and contact list. Pictures and videos are not capable of carrying viruses so you should be safe in preserving these files.
To perform a factory reset on Android follow these steps:
- Go to 'Settings'.
- Select 'System'.
- Select 'Reset Options'.
- Choose 'Factory Reset' or 'Erase All Data'.
- When prompted to confirm, select 'Reset Phone' and enter your password.
To perform a factory reset on iPhone follow these steps:
- Go to 'Settings'.
- Select 'General'.
- Select 'Reset'.
- Choose 'Erase All Content and Settings'.
- Enter your passcode when prompted.
The reset may take several minutes to finish. A factory reset will remove any hackers and all your data should be wiped clean when the process is complete.
Immediately change all of your passwords.
You should immediately change all of your passwords after performing a factory reset.
Aside from the possibility that a hacker could get back in through your iCloud or Google account, the passwords for your account are likely the main prize the hacker was after to begin with. If it was your spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend spying on you, your iCloud or Google account will still let them track your movements.
In addition, a hacker will immediately become suspicious when the malware they installed on your device suddenly stops working and they will race to do whatever they can do with your stolen accounts before you have a chance to lock them out, so time is of the essence. Change your passwords as quickly as possible.
Review your credit card statements
Phone hackers have a goal and their motivation is usually money. If you made any online purchases while spyware was on your mobile phone, there is an excellent change that the person that hacked into your phone has your credit card number.
Regularly check your credit card and bank statements for several months after you have removed the hacker from your device.
Warn your contacts
Once a mobile phone has been hacked, many cyber-criminals like to send messages to your contact list in an attempt to get them to click on a link or install an app that will infect their phone. This is called phishing.
These messages would have been sent from your phone and then quickly deleted before you could see them, so you can not be sure your friends or family did not fall for the trick. Be sure to send them a quick message to let them know that any suspicious messages did not come from you and that if they clicked on any links or installed an app that they may have become infected.
How To Know If Someone Is Hacking Your Phone
While the technology hackers use to get into your phone is quite amazing and can be hard to detect, hackers are also limit by the capabilities of the smartphone. For example, smartphones have limited processing (CPU) power and poor cooling capabilities. These limitations present these tell-tale signs that a hacker is present, in spite of their best efforts to conceal their activities.
1. Short battery life
All methods of hacking your mobile devices will involve keeping apps running in the background. These apps constantly draw power from the battery as they never close or go to an idle state. The best hacker apps will also be able to turn your camera and microphone on, which uses even more power.
This constant activity drains the battery much faster than usual and it is one of the most dependable ways of knowing someone has hacked you.
2. Hot Battery When In Sleep Mode
It is not unusual for a mobile devices to become warm, or even hot, during normal or extended use. This is especially true for long video game sessions, video calls, or even web browsing. The phone gets warm to the touch because the processor is working harder and using more power than normal.
The same constant activity that causes the battery to drain quickly will also cause the device to feel warm in times of light use. This is particularly noticeable if the phone has been in idle mode but is warm to the touch.
3. Excessive Data Usage
Hacking your devices is not of much use if the hacker can't spy on you, steal your files, or record you. Fortunately, all of these activities use data, particularly when they are recording your screen or turning your camera on.
You should investigate further if you notice your mobile phone seems to be using more data than your activities would justify.
4. Slow Performance
Any malware that is trying to spy on everything you do at all times and upload stolen data to someone else is going to slow down the performance of your mobile phone at times that do not seem justified.
5. Unexpected Reboots
Modern smartphones rarely crash and that would be the only valid reason for a sudden reboot. A hacker may need to perform a reboot after making a change to your device, or to update their spyware to the latest version after you update your iPhone or Android OS. It is good to have your device set to ask you before applying operating system updates so you will know that any unexpected reboot is cause for concern.
6. Difficulty Turning Off
Spyware that never turns off or goes into an idle mode will also not be fast to shut down. Essentially, if the hacker has software running that is in every part of your phone, it takes a little longer for it to gracefully shut down. If shutting down seems to take longer than it used to, here's a trick to see if it is an intermittent issue with your phone or a cause for concern.
Manually close all apps 2 to 3 minutes before shutting down. When you shut down, you will know that nothing should be actively running on your device. If shutting down still seems to take longer than normal, it is very likely that you have been hacked.
7. Signs of Activity in Standby Mode
Most people are used to seeing their smartphone light up in standby mode when they received a new message. The apps hackers use can simulate user actions, and this may cause your screen to light up briefly. If you notice it light up when in standby mode but do not see a new message or other alert, you should be more concerned.
8. Unrecognized Outgoing Messages
Cybercriminals like to use the contact list of their victims to send SMS messages to their contacts in an attempt to get them to click on a link or install malicious software. These phishing attempts will be sent from your phone so that your contacts will be more likely to trust the message and follow the instructions
The outgoing messages are usually quickly deleted, to cover up the evidence of the activity, but they will remain visible for a short time. Sometimes the victim sees these messages before they are deleted and this is an easy tip-off that you have been hacked.
9. Suspicious Apps or Files
I strongly recommend removing any apps you do not use regularly. Aside from being an entry point for hackers, having your smartphone cluttered with apps makes it less likely you will notice suspicious new apps that appear on your phone.
While hackers try very hard to hide their activity, sometimes they make mistakes and the software they use ends up visible to the user. Having an uncluttered phone will make it more likely you will be able to spot these apps should they appear.