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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

Someone hacked my phonE.

From Saurabh on June 10, 2019 :: 3:02 am

After conference call one party hacked my phone and get the calling no of another party of confrence call

Reply

I doubt that is what happened

From Josh Kirschner on June 14, 2019 :: 3:28 pm

There’s no way to hack a phone through a conference call. It’s possible that you were all dialing into a conference call service or app that showed the numbers of participants dialed in, but you weren’t hacked.

Reply

my fuckin dog niehbour

From george on June 15, 2019 :: 6:50 am

my dog piece of shit niebhour is hacking my internet how can I stop him Fuckinmut..do I need to kick his head in smile

Reply

Why do you think your neighbor is hacking your internet?

From Josh Kirschner on June 17, 2019 :: 8:45 am

First of all, why do you think your internet is being hacked? Is your concern WI-Fi or direct access? Whatever you’re seeing may have nothing to do with hacking.

It’s very easy to prevent anyone from accessing your internet simply by setting a secure password for your Wi-Fi and ensuring any “guest” Wi-Fi accounts are turned off or also have a secure password. All modern Wi-Fi routers will have strong security active by default, you just need to make sure your password isn’t guessable. Routers also have the ability to block specific MAC address (or only whitelist addresses for devices you know), so even if someone knew your password they couldn’t get in.

Reply

Asking help

From Liuelseged berihanu on June 19, 2019 :: 6:00 am

Hey my sister pls help me my phone is hacked by some one. The hacker know all about my secrets even my call voice.and how can i know the hacker

Reply

Galaxcy tab Samsung

From Desperate on November 16, 2020 :: 3:08 pm

My phone number have been used to phone people and telling them about discussions between me and my friend….what can I do…this is destroying my relationship because how do I prove my innicense

Reply

Hacked totally phone

From Raghvendra mishra on June 20, 2019 :: 7:24 am

My phone is hacked . Another person is opereetd my text msg all social site calls…..i if i could call some they also listen.nd i was chat someone the msg should tey read.kindly help me out i am very prblm plz

Reply

I certainly hope for some nice help for me on line

From Edward Vega on June 22, 2019 :: 3:49 am

as asked up above I certainly did have my cell phone knocked out very many times and my favourite cell phone then phell apart so I went to At+T for a new phone and they gave me a much different phone that is certainly not as nice as the other one and they charged me a huge number for the new phone and it does not work as well as my other cell phone so I might call At+T again and find out ifthey do still have mymcuh best phone available again and maybe they can send it to me ore maybe to a local At+t location so I can maybe by it gain and cerainly get much more help with that soon. Edward Vega

Reply

I did certainly sadly did have my cell phone kicked off very many times

From Edward Vega on June 22, 2019 :: 3:55 am

My current phone is not any where as nice as my prior AT+T phone number so I may call them and find if they somehow can send me the same cell phone I did have for so lone befoe it was kciked of and proken up for me. My last one was certainly much more helpful and it had a ver wonderful picture of me thaat very many people enjoyed seeing that nice picture. I don’t know if I can somehow list my nice picture on my new phone so I do intedn to maybe gett the other one named LG for my most help. Edward Vega

Reply

One and done

From John Van Kirk on June 23, 2019 :: 11:34 am

I have a one time message correspondence on my phone from 2/26/18 9:12 pm 10:22 pm.  It was in a mailbox app on my phone that I don’t use.  The language is graphic and my wife is understandably upset.  I wasn’t involved with the correspondence but it says it was done from my I phone.  There are other three other more recent messages that I did send, they are replies from emails sent on my yahoo account.
I’m not understanding any of this.  Why only a few of my yahoo messages got replies on this account and where this one time correspondence came from.

Reply

Lost

From John Van Kirk on June 23, 2019 :: 11:59 am

My wife found a correspondence from 2/26/18 from 9:12 to 10:22.  It was very graphic and she is understandably upset.  It was on the mail app that came with my iPhone that I don’t use.  There were however three other recent messages that I sent from my yahoo account that were answered there.  I only use my yahoo account, so why would there be anything in this account.  This one string of correspondence is threatening my marriage and I don’t know where it came from or how it got on this mail account.  The correspondence says it’s from me at iCloud. com but I have never used that, ever.

Reply

Is my phone or what's app hacked

From Jyo on June 25, 2019 :: 3:47 am

I got a complaint or call today from one person that they received video calls and messages from my what’s app before night, when i checked the number in the messages, i do not see any. Can someone hack my what’s app and do calls or send messages by using my number?

Reply

Not easy to do, but possible

From Josh Kirschner on June 25, 2019 :: 10:49 am

Without more detail from the person who called or complained to you, it’s impossible to say what happened, if anything. Could just be a mix-up on their part.

Since installing Whatsapp on a new device requires getting a text or call to your phone number, the only way I could see for someone to hack your account is to have access to that number. If it’s a Google Voice number or similar, it’s possible they have access to that account. If you’re backing up messages to your iCloud account, it’s possible they have access to your iCloud account. It’s possible someone sent you a spam text asking for your Whatsapp verification code and you sent it back to them, do you remember doing something like that? Some people have also suggested it’s possible to do it by spoofing your phone’s MAC address, but that’s not something a random remote hacker would able able to do.

So is it possible someone has hacked your Whatsapp account? Yes. Is it likely based just on the info you’ve provided? No. To be sure you stay safe, it’s worth activating two-factor authentication in your Whatsapp settings.

Reply

Hacker

From Jackie on June 25, 2019 :: 3:12 pm

Please for the love of God somebody help me I have a Dynasty Tribute and it doesn’t matter what phone I have I can’t keep my sister out of it. I am fed up. She gets in my activity my texts I don’t even know the depth of it all but I know she’s always trying to break my Google accounts and some say she’s using my emails or phone numbers I’m not really sure I’m about to go to the police I’m so fed up with this bullshit. Please I am desperate and gonna do something stupid. I’m at my end please

Reply

Are you still having issues

From Pika on October 16, 2020 :: 3:44 am

Are you still having issues with your sister trying to get into your phone?

Reply

Tracking iphone

From John Cody Balka on June 30, 2019 :: 10:46 pm

How can I find out if my iPhone has been set up with a gps that I don’t know about with hidden apps downloaded to my phone?

Reply

Not possible unless jailbroken

From Josh Kirschner on July 01, 2019 :: 6:13 pm

You can’t add hidden apps to your iPhone unless it has been jailbroken, which can only be done by someone with physical access to your device (unless you are a potential target of state-sponsored spy agencies, in which case a whole different set of tools come into play). You can check to see if your iPhone is jailbroken by downloading a security app, such as Lookout Security.

A more likely tracking scenario is someone doing it through Apple’s Find my iPhone feature. They could access your location if they have access to your Apple ID (because your credentials have been compromized) or if you’re part of Apple’s Family Sharing plan.

Reply

Phone hacked by friends

From Vishnu Prasad on July 04, 2019 :: 4:48 am

How can i fix this
Please anybody can tell
My phone is hacked by friends and i will be in a big trap

Reply

Is my phone been hacked

From Telaka on July 11, 2019 :: 7:33 am

Pls let me know

Reply

its hecked

From rajveer on July 11, 2019 :: 8:49 am

hi josh did you got my query

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I'm pretty confused by what you sent

From Josh Kirschner on July 12, 2019 :: 3:27 pm

For some reason you original comment isn’t showing up, but I have pasted it below for reference. I’m having a hard time following much of what you’re describing, but let me make some general statements.

First, the terms & conditions of fuckbook.com have nothing to do with accessing your phone’s content, and their icebreaker system is merely sending automated messages to user accounts within the application. If you’re seeing those other gaming apps on your phone, they were either preinstalled by your phone carrier (often carrier “bloatware” can’t be uninstalled) or you installed them yourself at some point.

Nothing you describe sounds anything like hacking.
———————————

“Please help me here i have not install any app in my mobile but i went on one site which open direct from google the app name is http://www.fuckbook.com its dating app where we can meet in this app they asked me to agree term and condition i have not read any thing and click on agree now I am worried about it hacked my phone because later when check there term and condition its written access of phone,messages,photos,videos and device IP address and they use icebreaker software and in there app no option for delete account and in that app its show all bhulshit option for dating is there any chance that they can heck my mobile phone for messages and call listening and later i saw my phone there was app like Burn The Rope, gitit, games club, marbles, smash it , reverie phonebook this kind of app came on screen without installtion and they show no option of uninsatll is it my phone heck by some hecker please help me sir i am using micromax phone”

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HELP! My Credit Card account w

From KC GS on July 17, 2019 :: 10:07 am

I “tried” to download a ringtone to my Iphone X last night around 930pm via a supposedly reputable site and the screen just went blank and so I downloaded a couple of Ringtone apps off of the Itunes store. I woke up at 5am to an email saying my scheduled credit card payment was due to withdraw today in the amount of over $4300!!!! I called the company immediately and got it cancelled and they shut down everything of mine but could my phone have been hacked by the apps or the attempt download via safari? How do I know..I’ve changed everything but am scared I missed something.

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HELP! Iphone X hacked via Itunes App?

From Kc Gs on July 17, 2019 :: 10:12 am

I tried downloading a ringtone via safari from a supposedly reputable site but the screen went blank so I downloaded 2 ringtone apps with 4 stars and lots of reviews off Itunes. This happened last night approx 930pm. I woke up at 5am this morning to an email from my CCard company saying a payment was scheduled for today in the amount of $4300. Someone got into my account and thought it funny to make a payment using my checking account that is saved to make payments on the site (you know how they make you save a payment method and credit card companies make you use your checking account). Could this hack have happened via the apps I downloaded or the safari download? I’ve changed everything and called the CC company of course but I’m scared it’s lurking in my phone now. Thanks for any help in advance!

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Someone is reading my messages

From Michael on July 19, 2019 :: 12:38 am

This is the second time this happened. Someone has been reading my texts and sending texts to people on my personal contact list. How can I find out who’s doing it or how can I put an end to this? I have a LG Stylo 4.

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AlllllWhite

From SiddTheeTripper on July 20, 2019 :: 7:09 am

Ill ignore it all, just give me a running k1500 like the one ualls fucked off, a job and a keno jackpot would be fuckin n nice
🤔
Oh and give that poor lady her deposit back unless she’s a schemer
77572019408a

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???

From Sidd on July 20, 2019 :: 7:17 am

Sounds like not a phone hack, but a life hack, only thing I’d want to know is that does the life hack last a lifetime?

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Help with iPhone 6s+

From Donna on July 21, 2019 :: 2:43 am

My phone for some reason when on messenger turns on my camera for one person. I can’t get it to turn off. The only person it does this too. This person got on my phone and computer I gave him access to access his fb and messenger since his phone was broken. A few months later unnoticed I had some pictures of a mutual friend on my computer.i knew they were not mine. They were his and somehow ended up on my computer. I was messaging him earlier and after we stopped he said to please turn off my camera. I had closed down all apps etc. never saw this before. He said he would block me til figured out. I found out that his xwife put spyware on his phone. How can I fix mine? Thank you

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am i being hacked?

From nikki on July 23, 2019 :: 11:22 am

my key strokes are sometimes slow,I don’t get some text messages, only one persons name is missing from my contact list, just his name, his messages and phone calls are still there.

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I have had multiple phones

From Tom Millender on July 24, 2019 :: 1:34 am

I have had multiple phones of my wifes and mine hacked by my ex and my ex mother in law. I can find the software and coding in the system files. Factory reset appears to ba a fake. Some files are still there after reset. Need help

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Anti virus apps collude with the state

From Ella on July 28, 2019 :: 5:26 pm

If one’s smartphone has been hacked by the State then I presume all the anti virus apps available will decline to alert the user is this

So what does one do if they suspect their phone has been hacked by the State?

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You probably haven't been

From Josh Kirschner on July 29, 2019 :: 12:32 pm

Unless you are a high-target individual (e.g., journalist/dissident/criminal/government official/business leader) or live in/citizen of a very oppressive country, it’s extremely unlikely you are being targeted by any state-run agency.

If you are in this very specific group, there’s probably not much you can do about it as there are numerous ways a government could spy on you. So the best thing to do is assume you are being spied on and treat your communications appropriately. There are devices and apps that allow for secure communications, even from government snoops, but there’s really no reason to go that route unless you really need to.

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Help me

From Blaine Wells on August 01, 2019 :: 10:37 pm

Hey I need help shyheedra Jordan and 2 dudes are in my phone using my parents credit cards and virtual currency and online Visa to frame me on a Samsung cloud account I know it her cause I caught her buying Microsoft shit for PC gaming and I don’t even have a computer she always knew my phone and email and password didn’t think this can happen to anyone but she has lost it. I jus got a new number I don’t know yet an she back in

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Hacked?

From Jim on August 03, 2019 :: 9:27 pm

I have a galaxy S7. My skype no longer worked. I found an updated version on the Samsung galaxy store and I installed the new version and updated messenger at the same time. Since then it seems very likely to me that someone has at least some control over my phone. Should I not use the galaxy store? Should I uninstall skype and reinstall it from the “play store”? do I need more security on my phone?
Thnx

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Doubt it

From Josh Kirschner on August 06, 2019 :: 2:34 pm

Downloading a well-known app like Skype from the app store should be perfectly safe. Though I don’t know why you would do it from there instead of the Google Play version, where you might get more frequent updates. Not clear what “messenger” app you downloaded.

What issues are you having that make you think someone has control over your phone? Likely, something else causing the problem.

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July 30, 2019 Hacked

From Denise Agueros on August 11, 2019 :: 10:35 am

July 30,2019 my screen was flashing, I’m not very savvy with technology. I turned the phone off. Turned it back on and discovered pictures that were black screen w/red spot in middle of them,also my call logs were altered.

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HACKED

From Madhumita on August 12, 2019 :: 4:15 am

My phone has been hacked for about 4 years now.I think a co-worker of mine did it.All my private conversations i have with my family and things i browse on the internet are known to people at my work place.how does thos happen?can you help me?

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Read the article above

From Josh Kirschner on August 13, 2019 :: 5:24 pm

If your phone was hacked, we have a pretty extensive list in the article above about how it can happen and how you can protect itself.

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True or false

From Shultz on August 15, 2019 :: 11:42 pm

Phone warned me I got hacked is that just a pop up trying to get me to install a security network or is it something I should be worried about ?

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Almost certainly a scam

From Josh Kirschner on August 16, 2019 :: 12:55 am

If you got a random popup saying your phone is hacked and asking you to install a security program, that is almost certainly a scam. We have more info on fake Android and iPhone popups here: https://www.techlicious.com/tip/do-pop-ups-mean-your-phone-has-been-hacked/

Reply

Text Message Privacy Invasion

From Greg on August 16, 2019 :: 4:58 am

I know that this is an older article but just came across it looking for information. My girlfriend and I were having a conversation on text message and a third party started making comments during our conversation. We both have iPhones and we weren’t in any kind of group chat. Right before it happened I noticed that I was getting duplicate messages from her which has been happening pretty often lately as well as she has been getting them from me. I also jokingly made the statement right after the duplicates that I must have triggered some key words and Uncle Sam was watching us and then immediately they started chiming in on our conversation. After that I started texting her from my work phone and the 3rd party was still sending messages on the conversation we initially started talking on. They knew some personal things about her including where she lives and the last time she visited me. I contacted Apple and they checked everything they could on their end and didn’t see any trusted devices connected to my account. I didn’t know her account information so they couldn’t tell me about hers but she said that she checked all of that on her phone. Apple also gave me some other things to check like making sure that our messages go through our phone number and not through our Apple ID. All of that was set to the things they suggested on both our phones. This isn’t the first time it’s happened but the times before it was using Facebook Messenger which we both no longer have that or Facebook. I was just wondering how are they doing it. We have both changed our passwords since then. That happened a couple days ago so still waiting to see if anymore intrusions. Earlier today she did get another duplicate message from me but can’t be certain yet although I never have those duplicates when talking to anyone else on messenger.  I do believe it’s someone we or at least one of us knows because of the personal things they know. It’s either that or they’ve been snooping in on our conversations for a really long time which is possible. Sorry for the long text but wanted to be as informative as I could. Any information on how someone can hijack a text conversation on an iPhone without ever touching either one of our phones would be appreciated. Thanks

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my phone is being hacked

From Lilly dmimguez on August 21, 2019 :: 10:40 am

hello my phone is being hacked to falsely accuse me of there criminal wrong doing who knows how long this has been going on and the sad part of it is that a few family members are doing it to me also this is an evil act of a hate crime and its wrong to do that to some one please help me thanks

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What do I look for?

From Shannon pars on August 23, 2019 :: 4:31 pm

I have a friend I’m helping that is going through some criminal charges. I have all his case files, in them are hundreds of pages of the wiretap, pen trap, and trace warrants for dozens of phone numbers related to one man ( not my friend ) over the course of a year. Lately both our phones are just, i can’t explain it but not acting normal. It has been over a year now through the court system and about to start trial this month. I just want to know is there anything specifically named i can look for on my device that can tell me if my phone or my friends phone is spyed on? Thank you.
Please Remember everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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What does "not acting normal" mean?

From Josh Kirschner on August 23, 2019 :: 5:39 pm

There are numerous ways law enforcement can (legally) spy on your various aspects of your cellular communications, most of which do not involve hacking your device. So it can be very difficult to determine if this may be occurring. What are you experiencing that is “not normal”?

When in doubt, it is likely better to presume his phone could be tapped as part of the ongoing criminal investigation and not have any discussions regarding his case over the phone.

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My name is Orlando my

From Orlando N Belinda Bejarano on August 24, 2019 :: 2:58 am

My name is Orlando my phone keeps getting hack can’t use my phone service or much less apps having hard time sending thIs message

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Question

From Jose contreras on August 24, 2019 :: 6:56 am

I have an old device which is an iPhone however it is no longer in service so I noticed looking into the internal storage there’s many files I never put there also some that represents my x wifes initials I took some photos and I want to know will she still recieve them even if no wifi was on although she has I cloud and other apps I cant seem to enter because they require a password?

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She might get them if you connect the phone

From Josh Kirschner on August 24, 2019 :: 10:33 am

As long as the phone isn’t connected to cellular or Wi-Fi, the photos aren’t going to be sent to your ex. But if you accidentally turn on Wi-Fi and her iCloud account is on the phone with the correct login info, and she has the phone set to sync her photos to iCloud, then yes, she might get the photos.

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HACHERS

From Durdica on August 26, 2019 :: 6:33 am

Hi ,the person named Josephine Williams is a Nigerian hackeR and shE/HE IS STEALLING YOUR FB PROFILE PICTURES and is sharing them and making you tube videos and is embarassing people .I just caught today FOR THE SECOND TIME that she/HE IS SHARING MY FB PROFILE PICTURE AND IS NOT MY FRIEND ON FB.bE AWARE OF josephine williams IT IS A HACKER ,PHISHER AND A SCAMMER AND REPORT IT TO THE POLICE IN YOUR COUNTRY ,

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Wrong!!! U can dwnld apps without physically having it

From Krazy k on August 27, 2019 :: 10:34 pm

I know there’s a way to download apps without having the phone in your hands, because I’ve done it myself I don’t want to say it out loud on here because you never know/or you do

But I’m still downloading through Google play when I do it!!!

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You can download, but not set them up

From Josh Kirschner on September 03, 2019 :: 4:00 pm

You’re correct, you can download apps to a device if through Google Play online if you have the target device’s Google account information. However, you need physical access to the device to access the app and set it for spying. If you have found something that avoids this process, please let us know.

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Facebook's Laz+Carl hack

From Tonya Key on August 28, 2019 :: 6:56 am

I have been having problems with hacking a lot lately. One in particular that my husband says I’m crazy over is the  
Laz+Carl hack. When I realized my Facebook had been hacked I done all the necessary prevention techniques. Two factor authentication, login notifications, changed password. I noticed that when I changed my password and logged everyone out of my account I got a code for the authentication that I suspected right away something was wrong. It said “Use this code as a password for your Facebook account. Click the link to login Laz+nxCarLW. Of course I Google it. And of course it’s some type of hack. So now…over the last 6 months..every time I change my password because I think someone may be logging in “messages read in messenger” among other things,, this hack shows up .. over and over again. I have never clicked on it. I always waited for the real code.  Can you help me out?? I’m ready to start over from scratch on EVERYTHING!!!  Not sure if it’s related but I just restarted my desktop and now it won’t come on. Just keeps beeping the sos code very loudly.

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Did u find a fix?

From Jason on June 10, 2020 :: 9:36 pm

Having the same issue confirmation code…. ..  laz+nxcarlw.

Is my Facebook and messenger hacked?
How? I have logged out of all sessions, changed password and have 2 factor on.

Did u find a way to fix this?

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