Is My Phone Hacked? Here's How You Can Tell and What to Do

Working with phone

Phones are lucrative targets for cybercriminals because we store all our valuable information there. It can also be easier to hack smartphones and tablets than most laptops or PCs - people just don't expect to be ambushed on a device that is such a significant part of their daily lives!

 Criminals hack phones for different reasons. Some want the sensitive information in your phone; others hack into phones to record you, listen in on calls, or intercept private chats. Others use malware to read text messages and steal payment details. No data is safe. It's open season on everything on your phone!

 So if you notice your phone acting strangely, check out these simple tips on telling if your phone has been hacked and what to do about it.

How do they hack phones?

It helps to know how hackers attack phones so that you can identify weaknesses and defend vulnerable access points:

Phishing scams:

Phishing is not just an email problem. Criminals also send phishing attacks via text messages, social media chats, and chat apps. Beware of any message that asks you to click on a link, even if it looks like it came from your bank or favorite shopping site. It's also better to avoid links from friends, family, or gaming mates - who may have already fallen victim to a phishing attack! These scam links will send you to a fake website where they will steal your logins or download malicious software on your phone. Use a gaming VPN with a URL checker to keep you safe.

Clicking on compromised website links:

Social media messages, posts, or ads may contain unsafe links. There's also a new trend where cyber criminals break Google's content rules to push their malicious sites and gaming accessories to the top of search engine results. Scammers love to use misleading, sensational advertising or bombard you with non-stop pop-up ads to get you to click on malware links.

Intercepting your internet traffic:

The extreme risk of MITM attacks overshadows the convenience of public Wi-Fi at restaurants and other public spaces. Hackers use special tools to intercept passwords and other data while you're on unprotected Wi-Fi. They can also use your open Bluetooth connection to get into your phone without you knowing it.

Viruses disguised as smartphone apps:

There are thousands of compromised apps, particularly gaming apps, in the official Apple and Google Play stores. Indiscriminate downloading will, sooner rather than later, lead to an infected device where criminals can steal your passwords, text messages, and confidential information.

Device and app permissions:

App permissions are a minefield because even "real" apps need permission to access sensitive information like your location, photos, or microphone. All apps share your data with third parties under certain circumstances. And, despite assurances, most of it ends up in the hands of data mining companies, who exploit the information for marketing purposes.

How to know if your phone is hacked

You may only know that your phone has been hacked once you install an antivirus and do a scan. But there are a few signs that could indicate that your device has been compromised:

  • It's slower than usual: Malware on your phone could be stealing storage space and processing power, slowing everything down.
  • Increased data usage: Spyware or adware may send information about you to their controlling server.
  • Pop-up ads while browsing: Some malware will keep putting malicious ads in front of you until you click on one. These ads could even appear on trusted sites or while you’re using innocent apps on your phone.
  • Duplicate or phony apps: Criminals can disguise malware within the icon of a fake app. The app will open a link or download malware when you click on it to investigate. So don't open any duplicate apps or click on unusual icons.
  • High battery use: If your battery suddenly starts to drain faster than usual, it could be due to malware running in the background. Check battery usage in your settings to see if you can spot unusual app activity.

What to do if your phone is hacked?

Your first reaction may be to start uninstalling suspicious apps, but if you click on a phone app, you might accidentally start a malware download to add to your problems. So first, download a reputable security tool to scan and clean up your phone.

You could also do a complete factory reset of your phone, which will mean losing all your data, including contacts, text messages, and some in-app information. However, a factory reset is not a silver bullet - some spyware and viruses could make it through a factory reset unscathed!

After your phone has been cleaned, change the passwords on all your sensitive accounts and set up two-factor authentication for your online accounts and, where possible, mobile apps.

Prevent hackers from getting a foot in the door

The four golden rules of keeping your mobile device safe are:

  • First, use a reputable anti-malware solution. It will prevent malware from being installed on your phone.
  • Install a reputable gaming VPN to encrypt your data. Please don't pick a free VPN in the app store, as they are usually thinly disguised spyware or malware.
  • Never use an unsecured connection to access Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connections. Even accidental connections can cause massive harm, so protect all connections with a VPN. Also, turn off the auto-connection switch for both protocols.
  • Update your phone regularly to patch security weaknesses.


In conclusion, if you suspect that your phone has been hacked, it's important to take immediate action to protect your personal data and information. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can determine if your phone has been compromised and take the necessary steps to address the issue. It's always better to err on the side of caution and be proactive in safeguarding your phone and personal information.


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