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How to Tell if Your Phone Has Been Hacked

by on May 28, 2020
in Privacy, Phones and Mobile, Mobile Apps, Tips & How-Tos :: 605 comments

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How to Tell if Your Phone Has Been Hacked

From email to banking, our smartphones are the main hub of our online lives. No wonder that smartphones rival computers as common targets for online hackers. And despite the efforts of Google and Apple, mobile malware continues to land in official app stores – and these malicious apps are getting sneakier. According to the McAfee 2020 Mobile Threat Report, over half of mobile malware apps “hide” on a device, without a homescreen icon, hijacking the device to serve unwanted ads, post bogus reviews, or steal information that can be sold or used to hold victims to ransom.

And while iPhones can be hacked, more malware targets Android devices. In its 2020 State of Malware Report, MalwareBytes reported a rise in aggressive adware and preinstalled malware on Android devices designed to steal data – or simply victims’ attention.

Malware can also include spyware that monitors a device’s content, programs that harness a device’s internet bandwidth for use in a botnet to send spam, or phishing screens that steal a user’s logins when entered into a compromised, legitimate app.

It is often downloaded from non-official sources, including phishing links sent via email or message, as well as malicious websites. (While security experts recommend always downloading from official app stores – like the Apple App Store or Google Play – some countries are unable to access certain apps from these sources, for example, secure messaging apps that would allow people to communicate secretly.)

Then there are the commercial spy apps that require physical access to download to a phone – often done by those well-known to the victim, such as a partner or parent – and which can monitor everything that occurs on the device.

Not sure if you may have been hacked? We spoke to Josh Galindo, director of training at uBreakiFix, about how to tell a smartphone might have been compromised. And, we explore the twelve ways your phone can be hacked and the steps you can take to protect yourself.

6 Signs your phone may have been hacked

1. Noticeable decrease in battery life

While a phone’s battery life inevitably decreases over time, a smartphone that has been compromised by malware may start to display a significantly decreased lifespan. This is because the malware – or spy app – may be using up phone resources to scan the device and transmit the information back to a criminal server.

(That said, simple everyday use can equally deplete a phone’s lifespan. Check if that’s the case by running through these steps for improving your Android or iPhone battery life.)

2. Sluggish performance

Do you find your phone frequently freezing, or certain applications crashing? This could be down to malware that is overloading the phone’s resources or clashing with other applications.

You may also experience continued running of applications despite efforts to close them, or even have the phone itself crash and/or restart repeatedly.

(As with reduced battery life, many factors could contribute to a slower phone – essentially, its everyday use, so first try deep cleaning your Android or iPhone.)

3. High data usage

Another sign of a compromised phone is an unusually high data bill at the end of the month, which can come from malware or spy apps running in the background, sending information back to its server.

4. Outgoing calls or texts you didn’t send

If you’re seeing lists of calls or texts to numbers you don’t know, be wary – these could be premium-rate numbers that malware is forcing your phone to contact; the proceeds of which land in the cyber-criminal’s wallet. In this case, check your phone bill for any costs you don’t recognize.

5. Mystery pop-ups

While not all pop-ups mean your phone has been hacked, constant pop-up alerts could indicate that your phone has been infected with adware, a form of malware that forces devices to view certain pages that drive revenue through clicks. Even if a pop-up isn’t the result of a compromised phone, many may be phishing links that attempt to get users to type in sensitive info – or download more malware.

6. Unusual activity on any accounts linked to the device

If a hacker has access to your phone, they also have access to its accounts – from social media to email to various lifestyle or productivity apps. This could reveal itself in activity on your accounts, such as resetting a password, sending emails, marking unread emails that you don’t remember reading, or signing up for new accounts whose verification emails land in your inbox.

In this case, you could be at risk for identity fraud, where criminals open new accounts or lines of credit in your name, using information taken from your breached accounts. It’s a good idea to change your passwords – without updating them on your phone – before running a security sweep on your phone itself.

What to do if your phone is hacked

If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms of a hacked smartphone, the best first step is to download a mobile security app.

For Android, we like Bitdefender or McAfee for their robust feature sets and high ratings from independent malware analysis labs.

And while iPhones may be less prone to hacks, they aren’t totally immune. Lookout for iOS flags apps that are acting maliciously, potentially dangerous Wi-Fi networks, and if the iPhone has been jailbroken (which increases its risk for hacking). It’s free, with $2.99/month for identity protection, including alerts of logins being exposed.

Who would hack your phone?

By now, government spying is such a common refrain that we may have become desensitized to the notion that the NSA taps our phone calls or the FBI can hack our computers whenever it wants. Yet there are other technological means – and motives – for hackers, criminals and even the people we know, such as a spouse or employer, to hack into our phones and invade our privacy. And unless you’re a high-profile target – journalist, politician, political dissident, business executive, criminal – that warrants special interest, it’s far more likely to be someone close to you than a government entity doing the spying.

12 ways your phone can be hacked

From targeted breaches and vendetta-fueled snooping to opportunistic land grabs for the data of the unsuspecting, here are twelve ways someone could be spying on your cell phone – and what you can do about it.

1. Spy apps

There is a glut of phone monitoring apps designed to covertly track someone’s location and snoop on their communications. Many are advertised to suspicious partners or distrustful employers, but still more are marketed as a legitimate tool for safety-concerned parents to keep tabs on their kids. Such apps can be used to remotely view text messages, emails, internet history, and photos; log phone calls and GPS locations; some may even hijack the phone’s mic to record conversations made in person. Basically, almost anything a hacker could possibly want to do with your phone, these apps would allow.

And this isn’t just empty rhetoric. When we studied cell phone spying apps back in 2013, we found they could do everything they promised. Worse, they were easy for anyone to install, and the person who was being spied on would be none the wiser that there every move was being tracked.

“There aren’t too many indicators of a hidden spy app – you might see more internet traffic on your bill, or your battery life may be shorter than usual because the app is reporting back to a third-party,” says Chester Wisniewski, principal research scientist at security firm Sophos.

Likelihood

Spy apps are available on Google Play, as well as non-official stores for iOS and Android apps, making it pretty easy for anyone with access to your phone (and a motive) to download one.

How to protect yourself

  • Since installing spy apps require physical access to your device, putting a passcode on your phone greatly reduces the chances of someone being able to access your phone in the first place. And since spy apps are often installed by someone close to you (think spouse or significant other), pick a code that won’t be guessed by anyone else.
  • Go through your apps list for ones you don’t recognize.
  • Don’t jailbreak your iPhone. “If a device isn’t jailbroken, all apps show up,” says Wisniewski. “If it is jailbroken, spy apps are able to hide deep in the device, and whether security software can find it depends on the sophistication of the spy app [because security software scans for known malware].”
  • For iPhones, ensuring you phone isn’t jailbroken also prevents anyone from downloading a spy app to your phone, since such software – which tampers with system-level functions - doesn’t make it onto the App Store.
  • Download a mobile security app. For Android, we like Bitdefender or McAfee, and for iOS, we recommend Lookout for iOS.

2. Phishing messages

Whether it’s a text claiming to be from a coronavirus contact tracer, or a friend exhorting you to check out this photo of you last night, SMS texts containing deceptive links that aim to scrape sensitive information (otherwise known as phishing or “smishing”) continue to make the rounds.

And with people often checking their email apps throughout the day, phishing emails are just as lucrative for attackers.

Periods such as tax season tend to attract a spike in phishing messages, preying on people’s concern over their tax return, while this year’s coronavirus-related government stimulus payment period has resulted in a bump in phishing emails purporting to be from the IRS.

Android phones may also fall prey to texts with links to download malicious apps (The same scam isn’t prevalent for iPhones, which are commonly non-jailbroken and therefore can’t download apps from anywhere except the App Store.). Android will warn you, though, when you try to download an unofficial app and ask your permission to install it – do not ignore this warning.

Such malicious apps may expose a user’s phone data, or contain a phishing overlay designed to steal login information from targeted apps – for example, a user’s bank or email app.

Likelihood

Quite likely. Though people have learned to be skeptical of emails asking them to “click to see this funny video!”, security lab Kaspersky notes that they tend to be less wary on their phones.

How to protect yourself

  • Keep in mind how you usually verify your identity with various accounts – for example, your bank will never ask you to input your full password or PIN.
  • Check the IRS’s phishing section to familiarize yourself with how the tax agency communicates with people, and verify any communications you receive
  • Avoid clicking links from numbers you don’t know, or in curiously vague messages from friends, especially if you can’t see the full URL.
  • If you do click on the link and try to download an unofficial app, your Android phone should notify you before installing it. If you ignored the warning or the app somehow otherwise bypassed Android security, delete the app and/or run a mobile security scan.

3. Unauthorized access to iCloud or Google account

Hacked iCloud and Google accounts offer access to an astounding amount of information backed up from your smartphone – photos, phonebooks, current location, messages, call logs and in the case of the iCloud Keychain, saved passwords to email accounts, browsers and other apps. And there are spyware sellers out there who specifically market their products against these vulnerabilities.

Online criminals may not find much value in the photos of regular folk – unlike nude pictures of celebrities that are quickly leaked – but they know the owners of the photos do, says Wisniewski, which can lead to accounts and their content being held digitally hostage unless victims pay a ransom.

Additionally, a cracked Google account means a cracked Gmail, the primary email for many users.

Having access to a primary email can lead to domino-effect hacking of all the accounts that email is linked to – from your Facebook account to your mobile carrier account, paving the way for a depth of identity theft that would seriously compromise your credit.

Likelihood

“This is a big risk. All an attacker needs is an email address; not access to the phone, nor the phone number,” Wisniewski says. If you happen to use your name in your email address, your primary email address to sign up for iCloud/Google, and a weak password that incorporates personally identifiable information, it wouldn’t be difficult for a hacker who can easily glean such information from social networks or search engines.

How to protect yourself

  • Create a strong password for these key accounts (and as always, your email).
  • Enable login notifications so you are aware of sign-ins from new computers or locations.
  • Enable two-factor authentication so that even if someone discovers your password, they can’t access your account without access to your phone.
  • To prevent someone resetting your password, lie when setting up password security questions. You would be amazed how many security questions rely on information that is easily available on the Internet or is widely known by your family and friends.

4. Bluetooth hacking

Any wireless connection may be vulnerable to cyber-snoops – and earlier this year, security researchers found a vulnerability in Android 9 and older devices that would allow hackers to secretly connect over Bluetooth, then scrape data on the device. (In Android 10 devices, the attack would have crashed Bluetooth, making connection impossible.)

While the vulnerability has since been patched in security updates out soon after, attackers may be able to hack your Bluetooth connection through other vulnerabilities – or by tricking you into pairing with their device by giving it another name (like ‘AirPods’ or another universal name). And once connected, your personal information would be at risk.

Likelihood

“Rather low, unless it is a targeted attack,” says Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky.“Even then, a lot of factors have to come together to make it possible.”

How to protect yourself

  • Only turn your Bluetooth on when you are actually using it
  • Don’t pair a device in public to avoid falling prey to malicious pairing requests.
  • Always download security updates to patch vulnerabilities as soon as they’re discovered

5. SIM swapping

Another reason to be stringent about what you post online: cybercriminals can call up cellular carriers to pose as legitimate customers who have been locked out of their accounts. By providing stolen personal information, they’re able to get the phone number ported to their own device and use it to ultimately take over a person’s online accounts. In a spat of Instagram handle thefts, for example, hackers used known login names to request password changes and intercept multi-factor authentication texts sent to the stolen phone number. The purpose? To hold victims for ransom or, in the case of high-value names, sell on underground marketplaces. Some people have also had cryptocurrency accounts hijacked and drained.

On top of that, researchers foundhttps://www.bitdefender.com/solutions/that there were representatives at all five major carriers who authenticated users giving the wrong information (such as billing address or zip code), by instead asking for the last three digits of the last two dialed numbers. Researchers were able to provide these details by first sending a text instructing users to call a certain number, which played a voicemail telling them to call a second number.

Likelihood

“Currently, SIM swapping is especially popular in Africa and Latin America,” says Galov. “But we know about modern cases from different countries worldwide.”

How to protect yourself

  • Don’t use guessable numbers for your carrier PIN – like your birthday or family birthdays, all of which could be found on social media.
  • Choose an authenticator app such as Authy or Google Authenticator instead of SMS for 2FA. “This measure will protect you in most cases,” says Galov.
  • Use strong passwords and multi-factor authentication for all your online accounts to minimize the risk of a hack that can reveal personal information used to hijack your SIM.

6. Hacked phone camera

As video calling becomes increasingly prevalent for work and family connection, it’s highlighted the importance of securing computer webcams from hackers – but that front-facing phone cam could also be at risk. A since-fixed glitch in the Android onboard Camera app, for example, would have allowed attackers to record video, steal photos and geolocation data of images, while malicious apps with access to your camera app (see below) might also allow cybercriminals to hijack your camera.

Likelihood

Less prevalent than computer webcam hacks.

How to protect yourself

  • Always download security updates for all apps and your device.

7. Apps that over-request permissions

While many apps over-request permissions for the purpose of data harvesting, some may be more malicious – particularly if downloaded from non-official stores – requesting intrusive access to anything from your location data to your camera roll.

According to Kaspersky research, many malicious apps in 2020 take advantage of access to Accessibility Service, a mode intended to facilitate the use of smartphones for people with disabilities. “With permission to use this, a malicious application has almost limitless possibilities for interacting with the system interface and apps,” says Galov. Some stalkerware apps, for instance, take advantage of this permission.

Free VPN apps are also likely culprits for over-requesting permissions. In 2019, researchers found that two-thirds of the top 150 most-downloaded free VPN apps on Android made requests for sensitive data such as users’ locations.

Likelihood

Over-requesting permissions happens commonly, Galov says.

How to protect yourself

  • Read app permissions and avoid downloading apps that request more access than they should need to operate.
  • Even if an app’s permissions seem to line up with its function, check reviews online.
  • For Android, download an antivirus app such as Bitdefender or McAfee that will scan apps before download, as well as flag suspicious activity on apps you do have.

8. Snooping via open Wi-Fi networks

The next time you happen upon a password-free Wi-Fi network in public, it’s best not to get online. Eavesdroppers on an unsecured Wi-Fi network can view all its unencrypted traffic. And nefarious public hotspots can redirect you to lookalike banking or email sites designed to capture your username and password. Nor is it necessarily a shifty manager of the establishment you’re frequenting. For example, someone physically across the road from a coffee shop could set up a login-free Wi-Fi network named after the café, in hopes of catching useful login details for sale or identity theft.

Likelihood

Any tech-savvy person could potentially download the necessary software to intercept and analyze Wi-Fi traffic.

How to protect yourself

  • Only use public Wi-Fi networks that are secured with a password and have WPA2/3 enabled (you’ll see this on the login screen requesting password), where traffic is encrypted by default during transmission.
  • Download a VPN app to encrypt your smartphone traffic. NordVPN (Android/iOS from $3.49/month) is a great all-round choice that offers multi-device protection, for your tablet and laptop for example.
  • If you must connect to a public network and don’t have a VPN app, avoid entering in login details for banking sites or email. If you can’t avoid it, ensure the URL in your browser address bar is the correct one. And never enter private information unless you have a secure connection to the other site (look for “https” in the URL and a green lock icon in the address bar).
  • Turning on two-factor authentication for online accounts will also help protect your privacy on public Wi-Fi.

9. Apps with weak encryption

Even apps that aren’t malicious can leave your mobile device vulnerable. According to InfoSec Institute, apps that use weak encryption algorithms can leak your data to someone looking for it. Or, those with improperly implemented strong algorithms can create other back doors for hackers to exploit, allowing access to all the personal data on your phone.

Likelihood

“A potential risk, but a less likely threat than others such as unsecured Wi-Fi or phishing,” says Galov.

How to protect yourself

  • Check app reviews online before downloading – not only on app stores (which are often subject to spam reviews), but on Google search, for sketchy behavior that other users may have reported.
  • If possible, only download apps from reputable developers – for example, who turn up on Google with positive reviews and feedback results, or on user reviews sites like Trustpilot. According to Kaspersky, “the onus is on developers and organizations to enforce encryption standards before apps are deployed.”

10. SS7 global phone network vulnerability

A communication protocol for mobile networks across the world, Signaling System No 7 (SS7), has a vulnerability that lets hackers spy on text messages, phone calls and locations, armed only with someone’s mobile phone number.

The security issues have been well-known for years, and hackers have been exploiting this hole to intercept two-factor authentication (2FA) codes sent via SMS from banks, with cybercriminals in Germany draining victims’ bank accounts. The UK’s Metro Bank fell prey to a similar attack.

This method could also be used to hack other online accounts, from email to social media, wrecking financial and personal havoc.

According to security researcher Karsten Nohl, law enforcement and intelligence agencies use the exploit to intercept cell phone data, and hence don’t necessarily have great incentive to seeing that it gets patched.

Likelihood

The likelihood is growing, as the minimal resources needed to exploit this vulnerability have made it available to cybercriminals with a much smaller profile who are seeking to steal 2FA codes for online accounts – rather than tap the phones of political leaders, CEO or other people whose communications could hold high worth in underground marketplaces.

How to protect yourself

  • Choose email or (safer yet) an authentication app as your 2FA method, instead of SMS.
  • Use an end-to-end encrypted message service that works over the internet (thus bypassing the SS7 protocol), says Wisniewski. WhatsApp (free, iOS/Android), Signal (free, iOS/Android) and Wickr Me (free, iOS/Android) all encrypt messages and calls, preventing anyone from intercepting or interfering with your communications.
  • Be aware that if you are in a potentially targeted group your phone conversations could be monitored and act accordingly.

11. Malicious charging stations

While travel and tourism may not be on the horizon anytime soon, last year the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office released a security alert about the risk of hijacked public USB power charging stations in locations such as airports and hotels.

Malicious charging stations – including malware-loaded computers – take advantage of the fact that standard USB cables transfer data as well as charge battery. Older Android phones may even automatically mount the hard drive upon connection to any computer, exposing its data to an unscrupulous owner.

Security researchers have also shown it’s possible to hijack the video-out feature so that when plugged into a malicious charge hub, a hacker can monitor every keystroke, including passwords and sensitive data.

Likelihood

Low. There are no widely-known instances of hijacked charging points, while newer Android phones ask for permission to load their hard drive when plugged into a new computer; iPhones request a PIN. However, new vulnerabilities may be discovered.

How to protect yourself

  • Don’t plug into unknown devices; bring a wall charger. You might want to invest in a charge-only USB cable like PortaPow ($9.99 for two-pack on Amazon)
  • If a public computer is your only option to revive a dead battery, select the “Charge only” option (Android phones) if you get a pop-up when you plug in, or deny access from the other computer (iPhone).

12. Fake cellular towers, like FBI’s Stingray

The FBI, IRS, ICE, DEA, U.S. National Guard, Army and Navy are among the government bodies known to use cellular surveillance devices (the eponymous StingRays) that mimic bona fide network towers.

StingRays, and similar pretender wireless carrier towers, force nearby cell phones to drop their existing carrier connection to connect to the StingRay instead, allowing the device’s operators to monitor calls and texts made by these phones, their movements, and the numbers of who they text and call.

As StingRays have a radius of about 1km, an attempt to monitor a suspect’s phone in a crowded city center could amount to tens of thousands of phones being tapped.

Until late 2015, warrants weren’t required for StingRay-enabled cellphone tracking. The American Civil Liberties Union has identified over 75 federal agencies in over 27 states that own StingRays, but notes that this number is likely a drastic underestimate. Though some states outlaw the use of eavesdropping tech unless in criminal investigations, many agencies don’t obtain warrants for their use.

Likelihood

While the average citizen isn’t the target of a StingRay operation, it’s impossible to know what is done with extraneous data captured from non-targets, thanks to tight-lipped federal agencies.

How to protect yourself

  • Use encrypted messaging and voice call apps, particularly if you enter a situation that could be of government interest, such as a protest. Signal (free, iOS/Android) and Wickr Me (free, iOS/Android) both encrypt messages and calls, preventing anyone from intercepting or interfering with your communications. Most encryption in use today isn’t breakable, says Wisniewski, and a single phone call would take 10-15 years to decrypt.

“The challenging thing is, what the police have legal power to do, hackers can do the same,” Wisniewski says. “We’re no longer in the realm of technology that costs millions and which only the military have access to. Individuals with intent to interfere with communications have the ability to do so.”

From security insiders to less tech-savvy folk, many are already moving away from traditional, unencrypted communications – and perhaps in several years, it will be unthinkable that we ever allowed our private conversations and information to fly through the ether unprotected.

Updated on 5/28/2020 with new ways your phone can be hacked and what you can do to protect yourself.

[image credit: hacker smartphone concept via BigStockPhoto]

Natasha Stokes has been a technology writer for more than 7 years covering consumer tech issues, digital privacy and cybersecurity. As the features editor at TOP10VPN, she covered online censorship and surveillance that impact the lives of people around the world. Her work has also appeared on BBC Worldwide, CNN, Time and Travel+Leisure.



Discussion loading

Help.. hacked?

From MB on February 21, 2018 :: 4:19 pm

I got 2 messages from an unrecognized number giving me “info on my BF cheating”. There was info that was accurate enough to where they knew personal info. When I reached out to him, via phone and text he never responded… very odd given our ages and the fact that I’ve known him literally our entire life. Could someone have hacked or blocked my messages to him?

Reply

It's possible

From Josh Kirschner on February 26, 2018 :: 3:19 pm

It’s possible that your messages are being blocked, but it would more likely be something that someone (your boyfriend or someone with access to his phone) did on your boyfriend’s phone (simple number block), rather than hacking. It’s also possible that your boyfriend is cheating, knows you know, and is just ignoring your calls/messages.

The fix here is probably an in-person conversation with your boyfriend.

Reply

BEWARE OF FAKE HACKERS

From Sussane Craig on January 06, 2021 :: 6:44 am

IMPORTANT!!! A Real Hacker will not charge anything in Advance
came across a service where the guy literally teaches you how to do it. Provides you video proofs and even send you video tutorial step by step explaining how you can actually get into any phone whether Android or iOS . I’ll share the WhatsApp number with you guys +91-8657-399-601. Harish Negi.
If it had helped me it can help you too

Reply

Can you literally watch someone from a thousand miles away?

From Dex on February 27, 2018 :: 9:00 pm

A friend of mine said that her boyfriend claimed to have visual coverage over her whilst he was in Europe. Not just a GPS location but that he claimed that he could see what she was doing and who or what was close to her. I told her he is bluffing but she claimed otherwise. I need clarification as to whether or not such tech is accessible to civilians and if so is it true that you can see someone in real time? Need some clarification…..

Reply

Yes, it's possible

From Josh Kirschner on February 28, 2018 :: 2:42 am

If you read our story on cell phone spying apps we linked to above (https://www.techlicious.com/review/android-spyware-apps-how-dangerous-are-they/), you’ll see that these apps would allow a spy to use the phone’s camera and microphone to spy on the person and their surroundings. So if her boyfriend installed one of these apps on her phone then, yes, he could have been spying on her even when she was in Europe since these spy apps can be controlled anywhere via the Internet.

While that is a possibility, it’s certainly not possible that he could have been spying on her by hacking global security/traffic cameras or spy satellites - that is purely in the realm of fiction (with acknowledgement that it is possible in limited scenarios for nation state law enforcement and spy operations).

Reply

Explain this

From Cynthia Snook on March 01, 2018 :: 1:22 am

My phone said “attention”,while I was texting.In the Google lady’s voice?

Reply

My phone did the same sort of thing

From Mely on March 24, 2019 :: 2:07 pm

Someone spoke to me through my phone and referenced my place of employment, what the hell is this and how?!

Reply

I guess you not gonna answer

From Cynthia Snook on March 02, 2018 :: 11:23 am

I was waiting for an answer to why my phone spoke by itself while I was texting someone .In the Google lady’s voice it said “attention”.That was

Reply

Hello,why you ignore my question?

From Cynthia Snook on March 07, 2018 :: 8:16 pm

I have posted three times.I want to know why my phone would talk by itself when I’m actually texting someone else.The phone said in the Google lady’s voice,“attention” and that was all?

Reply

Here's your answer

From Josh Kirschner on March 08, 2018 :: 3:44 am

I have no idea why your phone said attention. Since it apparently only happened once, it was probably just some random combination of factors. It doesn’t sound like anything related to hacking.

Reply

Caller Changes to unknown whilst on a call

From Pegz on March 07, 2018 :: 10:47 pm

When on a call, the name of the caller changes to unknown and the timer restarts. What does that mean?

Reply

Not sure, but have a guess

From Josh Kirschner on March 08, 2018 :: 10:15 pm

That’s not an issue I’ve heard of before. I’m guessing that it may be some error of handoff when your phone is switching between cell towers, or perhaps when the phone is switching between cellular and Wi-Fi calling. It doesn’t sound to me like a spyware issue.

Reply

Helloooo ,why won't you reply?

From Cynthia Snook on March 07, 2018 :: 11:21 pm

Is there any particular reason I’m getting ignored on this forum? I asked my question three times!

Reply

your'e an a$$

From noname on May 21, 2019 :: 3:04 pm

Lady chill out. Maybe instead of using your cell phone, go grab some Xanax or something.

Reply

Chill Lady!

From Kellydee on August 29, 2019 :: 1:14 pm

Seriously I agree this lady needs a chill pill or some sorta therapy maybe

Reply

Umm okay then

From Cynthia Snook on March 07, 2018 :: 11:22 pm

Gee thanks for nothing!

Reply

Also Gang Stalked (Toronto, Canada)

From Melissa b on March 08, 2018 :: 9:19 pm

I have been hacked and stalked by a religious vigilante group because I am a disabled sex worker and they don’t want me living in their building anymore which is beside their Catholic Church parish :(

Reply

Well is there anything that

From Cynthia Snook on March 17, 2018 :: 11:40 am

Well is there anything that you can tell me what those factors are that you said it could be a combination of,if not hacked then please explain something?

Reply

Just guessing

From Josh Kirschner on March 18, 2018 :: 7:55 pm

Weird stuff happens with tech all the time. If it is repeatable, you can try to track down the cause. If it’s a minor one-time thing, it can be extremely difficult to determine what happened. If I had to venture a guess, you probably had a video or ad that popped up for a moment in the background, and the “attention” you heard was from that. It may have sounded like the Google voice, but probably wasn’t. That’s the best guess I’ve got.

Reply

I'm sure of one thing

From Cynthia Lyn Snook on March 30, 2018 :: 4:54 am

That was Google lady’s voice.That is something I’m positive about that’s why it’s tripping me out

Reply

Wifes phone hacked

From David on March 23, 2018 :: 5:49 pm

My wife recently had her bank card used by a 3rd party. They also had her ebay and paypal accts and her google was tried to be logged on to from iraq. Im guessing her phone was hacked. Didnt find any new or unrecognized apps. We did recently buy a longer usb cord off of amazon. Could that be the source of her info being hacked?

Reply

May not be phone hacking

From Josh Kirschner on March 23, 2018 :: 6:15 pm

It doesn’t sound like phone hacking. If someone has access to multiple accounts that sounds more like her passwords have been compromised through a breach, or poor password management or both. It’s theoretically possible that someone could create a USB cable that would hack devices plugged into it, but I haven’t heard of that threat existing in real life and the information that could be pulled off this way from a smartphone would be limited.

Assuming your wife has already changed her logins for those sites, she can see what credentials may have been leaked through breaches by reading this article: https://www.techlicious.com/blog/find-out-if-your-password-has-been-compromised/. You should also install anti-malware on your computer and phone and do full scans.

But my bet right now would be on the data breach/bad password angle.

Reply

Hacked

From Martin on March 28, 2018 :: 8:31 pm

So what does it mean when I go into my Verizon and it says I send pictures to numbers I don’t know and it says I received and sent them

Reply

Now my Gmail is hacked

From Jackie on March 29, 2018 :: 10:36 pm

Hi Josh
I commented here a few months ago regarding my hacked phone.  Now I have had a new incident aND I hope you can explain it.
I sent an email to someone using an address provided on their business website. I then left my phone charging while I was out of the house and no one had access to my phone.

When I next turned on my phone I noticed that the email had been returned to me, at 3:44 as undeliverable.  I also noticed that at that exact same time an email I had sent out several weeks ago to reply to a Craigslist ad about a house rental, had oddly been sent back to me. I was puzzled why that happened weeks after I had replied to the ad, but the weirdest thing was I noticed 2 drafts were opened in my email program, both at 3:44.

When I opened them I saw that one was blank and that the other said “Wow…you’re something aren’t you”? This one seemed to have been sent thru Craigslist.

Any ideas how someone was able to hack my email…it seems they somehow used the Craigslist relay email to do this.

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Can Nokias be hacked

From James Williams on April 01, 2018 :: 7:59 pm

My nokia is not a smartphone. A couple of weeks ago I attended a public protest in London. Since then the battery has needed charging 5 times as much as normal. At one stage I was using my camcorder to film an arrest. When I got home I found the film of that scene had been tampered with and wouldn’t show. Could my phone have been hacked too?

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Can a Nokia be hacked?

From James Williams on April 02, 2018 :: 6:13 am

I was filming a protest demo a couple of weeks back and found the footage on my camera of an arrest being made had been scrambled. Also, my Nokia phone battery had drained very quickly. The battery on the Nokia has struggled ever since and yet there were no problems previously. Did the police use some tech to damage my Nokia and to cause the battery to drain?

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I doubt it

From Josh Kirschner on April 02, 2018 :: 11:13 am

I’ve never heard of technology that could scramble modern cameras in this manner and it seems highly dubious that would be the cause of your video issue. If someone has information that says otherwise, I would like to see it. If you’re using an old video tape camera, I could see how you might be able to do this with strong magnetic or electronic fields, but doing so would create issues for all sorts of devices, not just your camera, and why would the police implement tech to block 30-year old devices?

As for the battery on your phone, I don’t see a connection there for the same reasons.

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It is possible, wife and brother witnessed

From BlowNminds on May 18, 2019 :: 1:47 am

Approx 2 months ago, my android out of blue stopped taking pics of the aircraft around home. Mainly military as I live close to Navy base in Florida. After 3 or 4 pics and a quick look @ pics just taken, nothing but sky. I asked wife to come out back and take pic if military copter circling, at same time put my phone up to show her the aircraft did not show yet would in hers. We did this 5 or 6 times over next couple of hours with same result. Brother stopped by a little later and thankfully was able to witness this as well. Freaked em out quite a bit, myself have seen stranger things. Regardless I am thankful for 2 witnesses but stunned at how and why it happened. Eventually few weeks later I was able to take pics of the aircraft again as I have been for past 4+ years.

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@James Williams.

From RYAN on May 02, 2018 :: 12:57 am

I can tell you this much. I don’t at all doubt that they can scramble video in this way. Even if the tech isn’t well known yet.

I can tell you in my personal experience, I taking video of a bunch of military choppers that we’re flying over my house here in Los Angeles one time, and my phone battery suddenly died, and never worked again. Then on another occasion, I was filming some strange orb like balls of light that we’re moving around the sky above my house with an actual video camera, and suddenly the battery died, and never worked again. Haha.

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Yes they have tech that can scramble the camera

From Eric91crx on October 19, 2020 :: 10:45 pm

I’ve noticed the same thing that the original poster mentioned, I have been taking photos of chemtrails and trying to take pics late at night of very very different looking miliary advanced flying craft that are triangle shaped like a doritos , and often when trying to take a picture of a chemtrail jet spraying when I view the picture later I cannot see the planes in the pic only the sky and the chemtrail.  As for my numerous attempts to take pictures and video of these odd triangle shaped military ufo like craft when shooting the pics and videos mainly I notice I can barely see anything with the camera even though the craft to the naked eye is brilliantly lit up with numerous different red , orange and white lights blinking , strobing and some on solid, and not to mention the craft were only at 1000-1500ft of elevation maybe one mile from me at the very most not only would my phone’s camera barely capture what my naked eye was seeing but of the lights on the craft that my camera did infact capture the lights appeared as a completely different color in the camera than they did to the naked eye.  Ive also noticed the same exact effect even when trying to view these craft with standard binoculars , same exact results. Have no clue what kind of tech they are using on board these craft but it’s cloaking the craft for sure and manipulating my camera or just not allowing it to capture a true image for sure .

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iPhone 6s

From Sara on April 09, 2018 :: 2:57 am

I plugged my phone in at the airport charging stations and a green bar popped up on the bottom of my screen. I don’t know if I’ve been hacked or not but I’m worried… someone help!!

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Have I been hacked or does my phone just suck

From Danielle on April 16, 2018 :: 2:16 am

I can be in the middle of doing anything on my phone and all of a sudden it kicks me out. Sometimes I can retrieve it from being minimized, but sometimes it isn’t even available to pull back up. Also I notice settings on my phone that I don’t recall making. Is this a hack, what can I do? I’ve changed passwords for the most part, and have a backup security access for accounts but am worried that it is not enough for these clever criminals.. Able to help, please do!!!!

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Probably an non-spy app causing issues

From Josh Kirschner on April 16, 2018 :: 12:34 pm

Chances are, your issues are being caused by an app not working as it should or a system problem. You don’t say what settings, specifically, have changed, though if you’ve downloaded an antispyware app like Lookout Security and it hasn’t found anything, I wouldn’t worry about spying.

Either way, the best solution is to do a factory reset on your phone (backup you data first) and then only reload those apps you really need.

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Was I hacked I dont know what to do?

From David Chance Snyder on April 17, 2018 :: 1:22 pm

I had a purchase from a online dating site with my phone and credit card information and I didn’t do it and last night I had a thing pop up on my phone telling me my phone was hacked could this have been true and my phone was hacked and if so could they have done all that with the online dating services because I’m a married man there’s no way I would do something like that I don’t know what to do or tell me wife… need advise asap thanks

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Most likely not connected

From Josh Kirschner on April 17, 2018 :: 2:43 pm

Unless it was a antimalware app that you have installed on your phone warning you about a specific threat, the message you saw on your phone was almost certainly a scam. Those messages pop up on sketchy sites (or non-sketchy sites that have been hacked) and then get you to download some equally sketchy “security” app, which at best does nothing, and at worst is spyware.

If you’re concerned about the security of your device, get Lookout Security or an app from another well-known, reputable vendor, like Norton, Kaspersky or Bitdefender. Then scan for malware and keep yourself protected on an ongoing basis.

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Phone number used to harass others.

From Cheryl on April 19, 2018 :: 4:04 pm

Someone calls me and swears they keep getting calls from my phone number. They call the number right back and it is mine. But I know that NO call was made from my phone. I was charging the phone and it was sitting right in front of me. How can a call be made to someone from another phone and come up as another person’s number?!?

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Number spoofing

From Josh Kirschner on April 19, 2018 :: 4:37 pm

Spoofing a phone number is not hard to do and common among spammers. A typical approach now is to spoof the area code and exchange (the first three digits) of a number being called to make that person think it’s someone in their neighborhood. For example, if a spammer is calling 212-555-1111, they may spoof their number to make it look like the call is coming from 212-555-2222.  If that second number happens to be your number, then the person getting the spam call will think you’re the one calling them.

So your next question may be, “How can I stop it?” And the answer is, you can’t. Only the phone carriers can come up with a solution that will prevent spoofing and spam calls. The FCC and others have been looking for ways to address this, but, so far, we’ve just had to twiddle our thumbs waiting for them to act.

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I don’t know if my phone has been hacked, but

From Janice on April 23, 2018 :: 9:43 am

The screen will shake after I press the home button from viewing text messages, I’ve sent myself emails from websites (apparently. I haven’t actually done that. It just says that I’ve sent them to myself), and I was followed from work two weeks ago. The phone in question was one that I purchased for my ex to use for Lyft in October of last year. He tried to stab me and was sent to jail. I received the phone from his sister (as Maryland put him under a no contact restraining order) and it’s been really bizarre since. My WiFi router now has a zebra installed in it, my location is always tracked even though I disabled it. My current boyfriend thought I was bananas until the police escorted me home on the night I was followed from work. I tried to sell one of my televisions (as I never use it) and a district attorney from Maryland started following the items I was selling. Everyone interested in the television had literally no information about them anywhere online and, if they did, it was always linked back to law enforcement. I can find no information about the case online or my ex boyfriend aside from the fact that he was charged initially unless I search from a different device. This is literally driving me nuts. I just want to live peacefully. I go to work and come home. I’m afraid to leave my apartment or go out and do anything unless someone else is with me. I’m scared of everything. I don’t know what to do.

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Gangstalking

From RYAN on May 02, 2018 :: 1:43 am

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT MEANT FOR THE FOLKS THAT ARE BEING STALKED BY AN EX, OR SOMONE THAT THEY KNOW. ITS MEANT FOR TARGETED INDIVIDUALS.I DONT WANT TO CONFUSE ANYONE. Sorry for the caps.

I was one of the first people to mention gangstalking on this, and a related posted. I had a victim of gangstalking since late 2011. I’m happy to tell everyone, and all the TI’s out there that I don’t think I’m being stalked anymore. I’m no longer hearing the voices. I may have found the way out.

I’m going to be honest and say that I was using meth during the time I was being stalked. And I’m no longer using. However, if you’re. TI, you probably know that it’s easy for people to blame your being stalked on mental illness, or if you use drugs, they can say it’s paranoia, or psychosis. And hey maybe some of it is. BUT, if you’re a true TI, you know what you’re experiencing. And I know what I was dealing with for 7 years.

If you’re a TI, you’re probably a good person. Someone with empathy. A person that cares about the things, and people in this world that others don’t. An exceptional person in many ways. However you’re probably also engaging in some kind of deep sin. KEEP READING. Haha, I know you think some holy roller thing is coming now. But let me tell you, if you do what I’m telling you, the voices will probably stop. As will the stalking.

I have come to the very real reality, that there is a heavy demonic involvement in Gangstalking. If you’re a TI, and you’re using drugs, and or engaging in sexual immorality, or walking in any known sin. Ask God for help in turning away from the sin and to him. Then stop using or walking in that sin. Your withdrawals, and cravings for the drug, or the sin you were walking in will go away. The voices and the stalking will go with them. I know for a 100% fact that all the voices I was hearing were demons now.  Because it was all made known to me by them, and God. Go to God with sin and he will help you turn from it. I’m now months off the drugs and sin and I have not had a craving for the drug since day 3 of quitting. If I even think about the drug my stomach turns. That amazing. I will never use again. He will do it for you too. Drugs, sex, ego, pride whatever it is. He will straighten you out in amazing ways

Understand TI’s, there is a reason you’ve come under attack. And you’re probably trying to figure out exactly why. You’re probably thinking why a good person like you would be getting targeted. Well, it’s because you have a purpose. And you’ve been targeted by God himself. He’s trying to turn you from your sin, and you bring you to him. He will humble you, and let you see you will not be able to overcome this on your own, until you reach out to him.

I did, and I’m now addiction, lust, and gangstalking free.

I challenge you to do it, and prove me wrong.

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I believe u 💯👏

From BlowNminds on May 18, 2019 :: 1:58 am

Makes sense, not to mention I had the same thoughts on the subject for many years now. I like to believe God wants to save as many as possible during these dark days but it is also possible for some cases anyways, man playing God. The technology is there, the drugs and mental interferance that goes along with allows the paranoia and victim Ripe for the taking. Possibly it could be both at same time as well. Regardless I agree you speak truth that I share, which needs to continuously reshared as often as possible.

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Gang Stalkers are Demonic

From Targeted 2 on March 06, 2021 :: 6:36 pm

I can agree with you on your findings… with some additional comments. The 1st time I attempted to rid myself of them by turning to God & reading the bible.. It got WAY WAY WORSE 1ST.. before it got better. As if I was “poking the bear” so to speak, & the bear poked BACK! But becuz I get a response I stuck with it.. & although they stalking didn’t stop, the tormentive part did. I went about my way, moved & purchased a mobile home and was fixing it up to flip it, when suddenly it all started up again. Here, my Christianity was apparently bothersome to the 28 Jehovah’s Witness’ who went to The Hall with our landlord. They tormented me relentlessly. I prayed daily to no avail from the break ins, damages & every single device hacked to high heaven! (Pardon the pun). But not being attacked spiritually, or mentally. Corruption prevailed still tho, with an illegal evictions after no notice for a hearing. I decided this was becuz I knew I really was meant to move out of Pennsylvania. So I did. I had almost 2 years of peace b4 renting a lot for my RV in a 55+ park near the beach in Florida. Once again, I caught this landlord being corrupt also. Charging all the single women an extra $20 more & pocketing it! The break-ins were like clockwork EVERY TIME I LEFT! The hacking of every device also. Damages to my RV, property & devices now exceed $6000, not including financial losses from destruction of my online sales business. ONCE AGAIN I WAS ILLEGALLY EVICTED 11/14/20 WHILE FL. GOV & PRES. TRUMP SAID I WAS PROTECTED DURING COVID! ONCE AGAIN NO NOTICE OF THE HEARING!
I have come to the realizations, that I am a psychic sensitive. I am aware of things others don’t even believe in. THAT is what makes me a higher end target. Although, I believe.. (hold your pants) that EVERYONE is being subject to this. They just don’t realize it. & it is those of us who can SEE.. that become BULLSEYES. None the less they cannot make my ears ring, get anxiety, get frantic, have nightmares, nothing spiritual. But they still can do things that others would call coincidence. Flat tires. Propane leaks. Broke water lines. & of course HACKING!!! Etc. I am now homeless (in my RV) and the phone I purchased 5 weeks ago was hacked in a record 8 days. Attempting a hard reset it says “Cannot unmount system partition… Access Denied”. While on Google help a red box appeared “Custom ROM not Play Protect certified. Contact developer” I am being denied my Constitutional and 1st Amendment Rights!! for the pursuit of happiness (running my own business) & privacy to complete my patents on 2 mega ideas. One which could eliminate 80% of plastic use. If I knew it’d work.. Id give my left toes to have a secure phone and laptop. I swear. I just don’t see that ever being a reality. I cant even get Norton 360 Lifelike to install!!
We are The Witnesses. Don’t ever forget it. We will be here on their judgement day. So forgive, but NEVER FORGET.

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Spied/Stalked on for 4 years

From Michelle Jackson on May 05, 2018 :: 10:31 pm

Finally! I’ve found a forum that can assist me!! I have bought new phones iPhones android had over 100 email addresses, Facebook addresses taken over… vpns dont help… nor does malwarebytes.. sophos… etc.  None of them…

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Reply back to Michelle Jackson

From W on March 15, 2021 :: 7:26 pm

Your not alone! Same thing you mentioned is same thing I been victimized by for the past 4 years! I have bought up to 7 different phones and have went through 3 laptops during these past 4 years. It’s still has not stopped! Every time the compromising gets so bad you get to point you cannot live another day like this so i go by another new phone and new phone service, 4 to 6 weeks later, they are in my device again; repeating the same steps or patterns all over again. I lost countless Facebook accounts and Google accounts-all social media accounts due to someone changing passwords,etc. Moreless, I have an abnormal amount of notebooks I completely used up from constantly having to keep changing passwords and forced to,endlessly,keep having to create new accounts! Photos, files, documents, etc continually disappears, sharing of files I did not ever share, settings being changed i did not change, my data runs way to high in apps I have not opened or mobile hotspot data shows it’s used up when I never got the chance to use it, bank accounts showing transactions I did not do, credit report showing loans & credit cards taken out under my name that did not belong to me! To many issues to mention! I performed different background checks on myself & my family to look for signs of identity theft & resulted in disturbing info, (For example, people listed as your inner circle closest relatives that are not related to you) that should not be on any of your background info including background showing prior addresses that you never lived at!! If anyone ever suspects their identity has been compromised, be sure to obtain copy of all 3 credit reports that belongs to you &
retrieve a background check of yourself! These reports will tell you everything you need to know if you suspect identity fraud! People take their privilege of having privacy for granted! People also do not have absolutely no clue how important privacy is until it is completely taken away from you! Your whole environment in your life becomes controlled by somebody using corceive control, gaslighting, & defamation! You beg for help and help never comes! You just want to break free and you want your life back! Hope becomes nothing but dismissive! You go to the police & get police report but nothing still does not get better! Who else can you go to for help if no help ever comes from law enforcement??

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I think my phone is hacked

From Beth on May 06, 2018 :: 6:08 pm

My question is I think my boy friend hacked my phone but not sure , he knew all the people I was talking to on messanger , is this possible?

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Did you follow the steps above?

From Josh Kirschner on May 07, 2018 :: 12:06 pm

You can use the steps above to determine if your phone has been hacked and what to do about it. However, it may have nothing to do with your phone - not clear which messenger app you’re referring to, but if he has or an guess your login credentials for that, then he would be able ot see all of your conversations.

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Possible hack

From Lucy Sandoval on May 07, 2018 :: 3:21 pm

Ok so I had a missed call, when I called the number back it began to ring, then I noticed the same number i was dialing was now calling me. I hung up and tried calling thE number and the same thing happeded. So I then called from a land line and now,my cell phone was ringing.so the number I call had my cell ringing. I’ve since powered my phone off. Any suggestions on whAt to do?

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No, not really sure what's causing that

From Josh Kirschner on May 07, 2018 :: 5:38 pm

Haven’t heard of that situation before, but it doesn’t sound like any type of “hack”. If I had to guess (and I am taking a guess). whomever you are calling has a set up that recognizes your caller ID and forwards the call back. Can’t explain why calling from your landline would ring your cell unless those numbers were connected in your system. It’s a weird situation that almost sounds more like a prank than a scam. Did you try Google searching the number to see what comes up?

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I received a confirmation message from Google verification ,I give that code to my friend ..so my wa

From Karthik Bathini on May 09, 2018 :: 1:43 pm

Hii ,I received a confirmation code from Google verification..im tell a code to my friend ..so my phone was hacked or not

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Hacked once. Need info and suggestions

From Maria on May 10, 2018 :: 9:49 am

Was hacked before and lost 3 emails! Now I signed in to retrieve a code only to access my YouTube account on a different device and I’m seeing little details that made me concerned! So changed all information on main email that possibly could, and dropped 2nd email that had access to email that is possibly being used by another. Also detached my email from it! Any suggestions what I may do to secure email I have in use and any security app for Android because I own my phone and also carrier provided app did NOT stop hacking on last 3 emails! Thanks!

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Here's how to deal with email hacking

From Josh Kirschner on May 10, 2018 :: 11:35 am

It’s not clear to me why you think your email was hacked. But if you’re concerned, we have an article that specifically deals with email hacking and how to protect yourself.

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