In simplest terms, Hacking is unauthorized access to your smartphone, with an intent to steal information or have control over the phone
Usually hacking results in some kind of monetary or personal loss to the owner of the phone. Any smartphone these days contains lots of personal, professional, banking and financial details.
“Full access to someone’s phone is essentially full access to someone’s mind,” says Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
According to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (‘RIPA’) and/or the Data Protection Act 2018, hacking the phone is a criminal offence.
This is done either, taking advantage of the weakness of the phone security or carelessness on the part of the user. Generally, it is executed bypassing the security system of the smartphone or gaining access to the password of the phone.
How is the Smartphones Hacked?
There are many ways in which a smartphone can be hacked. The hackers are very innovative and new methods are evolved at a staggering pace. However, some of the common and popular ways are;
GAIN ACCESS TO UNATTENDED OR UNLOCKED PHONE:
Unfortunately, in spite of such serious threats of hacking, many users do not lock their phones or keep them unattended in public places. This is a golden opportunity for the hacker to snoop into your phone and gets his hands on all kinds of information he wants.
Bluetooth is often used to transfer files or media from one device to another and also to connect to accessories like apple/android wear, headsets, and the likes. This active Bluetooth connection provides one more gateway to the hacker to get into your phone.
The sim is illegally cloned, using some hardware and software and is used parallelly to access all messages, calls, and mails of the victim.
The target phone is infested with malware, spyware and entire data is accessed/ stolen. The malware may get an entry to the target phone, through some apparently innocent-looking links or messages.
If the victim opens these perilous links, the malware gets installed in the background, without the knowledge of the victim.
The hackers may at times present a fictitious site camouflaging it as the original. This is known as phishing and through these illegal sites, data can be stolen/manipulated.
The hackers could impersonate the victim and change certain passwords to critical sites or passwords of online banking etc and do away with unscrupulous activities.
How do you know if your Smartphone is Hacked?
The hacking onslaught is so obscure, that for a long time the victim is unaware of what hit his phone. It is only after some major loss that the fact unfolds. Be on a regular lookout for these symptoms of hacking on your phone;
The battery gets discharged too often even on regular or normal use. This happens because the suspicious script (malware, spyware is continuously working and consuming the battery)
The handset gets warmed up, even when not in use or charging. This could be a technical problem too. Get it clarified from the service centre.
The Phone reboots itself when left alone.
The phone or some apps installed on the phone, suddenly perform very slow or become unresponsive.
You can notice some new apps or shortcuts on your phone. This could be hacking.
Suddenly your trusted and tested passwords don’t work for some apps or sites.
The regular updates from your phone manufacturer or software vendors cannot be executed. The updates get terminated.
The phone literally operates on its own. The flashlight may light up, or any screen may pop up or some music may play. This is the manifestation of a virus attack.
Apart from the reasons for a bad network, your call may echo or it could become too noisy. This may be because your call is intercepted.
Sudden spurt in mobile data usage for no valid reason.
The worst symptoms apart from these could be a message alert of cash transfers from your account, which you did not initiate.
Simple ways to Safeguard your Phone from Hacking
Not every one of us is a geek, to be able to thwart such attacks with technical prowess, but all of us can take some precautions, which will reduce the incidence of hacking considerably.
- Never leave your phone unattended and definitely use a password to lock your phone. The password should not have any link to your personal details.
- Use of good antivirus can also help in securing your device.
- All Bluetooth sharing and linking should be done with a password set. After use remember to put off the Bluetooth sharing.
- Never store bank, credit card details or PIN on phone and if you do have to store them, store in some password-protected app.
- Always update your device with official updates.
- Whenever you install an app, install it from the official store. No third-party app should be installed. Check permissions that the app needs to install. Unreasonable permissions mean a skewed app. Don’t install it.
- Never click on suspicious and unknown links.
- Always opt for phone tracking and disabling features offered by your manufacturer. If lost or stolen, you can track your handset and if you cannot recover, then at least entire data can be wiped and frauds prevented.
- In case you have to use open and unprotected Wi-Fi, use VPN services like CyberGhost, Tunnelbear or any such kinds.
- If possible, lock the apps individually too and with different passwords.
- Do not root your phone.
And just in case you find your phone is hacked, do not panic. Reset your phone to the factory setting. Check your bank for any fraud. Change all your passwords from mail to credit cards, to online banking, etc.