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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 :: 707 comments

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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 found 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

i did it now

From henry on April 17, 2021 :: 11:51 pm

Okay I’m in my 50s I was married for over 30 years I got charged with domestic violence and then convicted 3 years later after I served all my probation’s… I happened to go to the house at which I still own and I’m not under any order not to be there and broke into the home but hadn’t been there for three years wasn’t allowed Not In Law’s eyes I don’t think I still own the home and it was no order 2 not answer so I went through a window took a look around the house first and and the alarm went off so I ripped the speakers down and control top so it would not make noise and I checked the rest of the house then I left I was gone for a while I came back for something else the police were there and they wanted to arrest me so I said that they couldn’t they didn’t listen so so I got arrested detained fingerprinted charged with break and Enter Ali destroying public property under $5,000 K that’s my story pretty stupid. How many years in a jail am I going to get for that

Reply

WOW!

From Cinco on April 28, 2021 :: 6:53 am

I rarely read comments or discussions at the bottom of posts/articles etc….
However for some reason I did this morning!
Some of you need to either lay off the meth,and get some sleep,
Or make that follow up appointment with your psychologist/mental health evaluator.
I could hear the hallmark- rapid, forced, and transient speech, take over in a few of those rambling dissertations. If your comment requires me to scroll 2 or more times, you probably need to reevaluate some key factors in your life. Such as sharing… As in, sharing too much. What’s appropriate, what’s not… validity and substance (are you driving home a point that is relevant to the article and discussion or burdening others with your ranting and psycho babble bull sh**?) Ik I came to read an informative article about digital security- and that is it.

Reply

Cinco you're on METH? WHAT,!!

From Not crazy. Too SMART on May 05, 2021 :: 4:30 am

IDK . this page is filled with a “certain” group of people who are..  AWAKENED and ARE BEING PUNISHED FOR IT. IDK IF YOU’RE THERE YET ..

Reply

Yup

From Sue on May 05, 2021 :: 4:54 pm

Thank you for your critique. Thank you for your professional diagnosis and treatment, Dr.

Reply

I need help

From Sara on April 30, 2021 :: 1:51 pm

Hello everyone i need help, today when i login to my Gmail i found something strange, one unrecognized device login in my account. its a Samsung S20 5G Ultra i dont use samsung Devices. i removed that device. is my account compromized. need help.

Reply

Change your Gmail password and set up 2-factor authentication

From Josh Kirschner on May 04, 2021 :: 10:54 am

Sometimes, Google can be a little unclear whether someone actually accessed your account (i.e., they had the correct login info) or “tried” to access your account (perhaps with login info from another site that was leaked in a breach). If they did access your account, or if you’re just unsure, you should immediately change your Gmail password. I also strongly recommend setting up two factor authentication for Gmail.

Reply

Thank You.

From Sara on May 04, 2021 :: 11:07 am

Thank You.

Reply

Tearesa Holland I lived upstairs from you!

From Tearesa Holland old neighbor from PA !! on May 05, 2021 :: 5:25 am

Tearesa! This is your namesakes… Spelled different tho!..lol me & my daughter lived upstairs from you! IDK why some comments have reply & some DONT write back home to 5021 Stanton St. its Delphines address!! Where have you been!!! Lets help each other! I’m in sunny Florida now! Last I saw u was across from your d@ds

Reply

Hi

From Hithesh on May 05, 2021 :: 3:37 pm

Hi

Reply

Need help

From Zohar on May 06, 2021 :: 2:26 am

I answered a call from an unknown number on my iPhone
As soon as I answered there was no one on the other side
Since then I keep on getting pop up messages that say in all kind of different ways that my battery will stop working or can explode etc
It seems that these messages are not from a legal source as there are written with mistaces and since I don’t do anything they recommend me to do ,like download the antivirus they offer, the messages are send in all sorts of languages
Also all of a sudden my location is Italy even tough I live in Israel
And now the pop up messages are in Italian
And there are changes for example in Netflix my child’s profile is age 7+ or lower and all the presented movies are not fitting his age and the movies we stored in my list are gone and I can’t change it
Please tell me what I can do to fix all these problems and make sure all my devices are safe
I downloaded anti virus and cleaner but also that doesn’t salve anything
I am waiting hours on this and this is very frustrating

Reply

Need help

From kko on May 06, 2021 :: 1:35 pm

I received my debit card last Friday. Then I used my iPhone (safari) to unblock my card. On Sunday, my card was used to purchase a Netflix account. I didn’t use my card, neither left my house. I already canceled my card, but I’m worried now. Is it possible that my iPhone is hacked? Or only my safari? I already changed my passwords, what else should I do to stop that? Please help.

Reply

I believe I've been targeted. I need help!

From James on May 08, 2021 :: 12:41 am

Since may of last year I’ve been targeted by a hacker or group of hackers. I’ve gone thru over ten devices. I believe their using the android.Obad trojan.  But, I only know what I’ve learned from reading stuff on the internet.  They have gained access thru my blietooth, the DNS, and now the keystring.  They are using this telecommunications SI to force their way in. They use all apache open source licenses for their apks and configuration changes. Its by apache.  I’ve read some of their coding. Its apache.ignite.  then whatever they want
First they take over as as administrator.  Then I’ve looked in each app.  At each system app.  With different explorers.  Their monitoring me.  Recording everything I do.  I’m just a boring retired old person.  Rooting my device is over my head.  They control what info I see.  Its probably wrong.  I just replaced my devices again two weeks ago and they were in them within hrs.  Please help.

.

Reply

My cell has been hacked

From Mike Palacio on May 10, 2021 :: 8:36 am

Ever since I was working at a memory care company this guy was always talking about data and everything and he got a hold of my number and now my whole cell is hacked.A couple of my apps look like Iphone(but yet I have a android S10)
He can see everything and knows where I go….hes even hacked my girlfriends cell and I don’t know what to do.
I would go to the police but idk what would they do they can’t arrest him because there’s no proof so please help…this is getting very annoying.

Reply

they won’t let go

From james on May 18, 2021 :: 8:24 am

i have a person using all my emails to hack me, and make me look like i’m stealing from myself.  he’s linked to everything

Reply

phones made in China

From Greg on May 23, 2021 :: 8:26 am

Apps aside, my concern is more with firmware. Is it possible that some legitimately-priced phones from smaller Chinese companies like Unihertz are NOT under the thumb of the CCP and NOT sending all kinds of user (in the U.S.) personal data to the CCP’s servers?

Reply

Hard to say, but does it matter?

From Josh Kirschner on May 25, 2021 :: 10:17 am

We have never seen any direct evidence that any of the Chinese phone companies are compromised by their relationship with the Chinese government. However, given the strong warnings and actions by the US government, as well as a number of European nations, it does suggest there is evidence out there that is not being released to the public.

The question you should ask yourself, though, is do you care? Government spying of this nature is intended to target political or commercial information valuable to that party. For most of us, the Chinese government could care less what we’re up to. Meanwhile, there are plenty of advertisers, big data companies, social media sites, apps, etc. collecting data about your online and offline activities through perfectly legal means.

Privacy should be a concern for all of us. IMHO, the Chinese government should not be where most people’s concerns should lie.

Reply

which method can hack and access mobile camera

From sara on June 05, 2021 :: 4:05 pm

which hacking method or technique can hacker uses to hack and monitor someone camera ? does the only way is by installing spy app ? if mobile is android 6?

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does secure screen lock password prevent pyhiscal access hacking

From Sara on June 11, 2021 :: 6:24 am

Hello sorry to write here but there is no new comments section, so i replied here to write my comment
if i have a screen lock password on my android phone, but in the work sometime i leave my mobile in the office with my colleagues; as sometime I go to make coffee or sudden talks out the office or go to toilet ....etc is this it okay and my mobile is safe cause it has a password and no one know it ?

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Yes, screen lock prevents access

From Josh Kirschner on June 11, 2021 :: 9:23 am

If you have a screen lock PIN on your device and it is secure enough not to be easy to guess, it will prevent hacking. No one will be able to access the phone to download apps or load anything through the USB port unless the phone is unlocked. As I recall, some earlier versions of Android (prior to Android 8 or so?) may have had USB access vulnerabilities, but this won’t be an issue unless your device is very, very old.

Help

From Small girl in a big world on May 31, 2021 :: 2:35 am

My phone system has been changed and my phone says its being monitored by a 3rd party that gets eeverything done on my phone i know who it is but not how to stop it and fix my phone. Please help

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Idiots

From Idiots on June 21, 2021 :: 10:03 pm

Your an idiot that is trying to understand technology which is clearly light years beyond what your IQ is able to understand.

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You're*

From Stephanie Quist on August 04, 2021 :: 9:49 am

People who talk about IQ are generally the stupidest people.

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Is my camera hacked?

From Aaron on June 15, 2021 :: 1:09 pm

My phone the flash started flashing and then you could hear the camera take a picture when I was not even holding my phone. I looked through my pictures and it didn’t show that picture but I know that it acted just like you took one. Is my phone hacked?

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Video edit in Africa

From My Love ❤️ on June 20, 2021 :: 2:21 am

Does anyone know anything about what’s going on in Nigeria with something called video edit ? My fiancé is there and we share the same iCloud and I was looking through my pictures and I noticed I had three videos in the hidden box but o never use it anyway I looked to see what it was and there were 2 videos of my fiancé with a girl they are laying on the bed hugging each other and had a small kiss and the other one basically same thing but holding hands this time making the video then the last video is just of her singing a song anyway I was no words can explain how I felt but I got him on the phone and he swears it’s not him thst it’s video edit and I asked a friend I have there in Nigeria also and show her the video she said it’s video edit but Im not convinced it looks just like him like everything and why would he tell me the truth but like I’m telling him I see you with my own eyes how could you do this to me and he still swears to God it’s not him and seems almost as upset as me Please does someone have any information on this video edit going on in Nigeria help

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Idiots

From Your husbands cheating on June 21, 2021 :: 10:01 pm

Your husbands cheating on you it’s pretty simple…moron

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Idiots

From Idiots on June 21, 2021 :: 9:59 pm

None of you have been hacked lololol

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Hackers

From Wayne Patrick Ford on July 06, 2021 :: 8:08 am

These hacked have hacked my home devices and my phone everything is like an illusion…but it is the hackers that do all this..spam aswell be careful also not to answer any pal like if they ask you something don’t type how that is a how pal you actually giving them the key to your phone8 please help me I can’t take the spam aswell

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Pretty sure my phone is hacked

From Shannon M. on July 12, 2021 :: 12:57 am

Phone is acting funny. New roommate is strange and asked me weird questions regarding my internet use on the wifi he had installed. He stated my cell phone is using up 80% of his data and kicking him off internet. (CenturyLink panoramic modem) Never had any issues with the previous internet and wifi with a crappy modem. I disconnected all of my devices from his internet but now my phone has a mind of it’s own. It’s either lagging or when I type it adds different letters. How do I fix my cell phones, chromebook and tablet as well as protect them all? Cell phones are both Androud Samsung Galaxies Note 8 and a S20 Ultra. Laptop is a Google Chromebook and Tablet is a tablet A from T-Mobil. I also have a fire stick that was connected as we. Please help.

PSA: Reading through the comments on here leaves me a bit bewildered and sadden for our society and my Granddaughters future. Whether it is a language barrier or mental health issues most, not all comments are frightening that those are actual comments from adults. 😩

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Try a factory reset

From Josh Kirschner on July 21, 2021 :: 4:03 pm

While your phone could be hacked, it could also be another app on your device that is causing the issues. In your phone settings, go to Network & Internet > Mobile data and see which apps are using data on your device. Delete any unusual apps. That may also be related to the lagginess.

If that doesn’t fix things, back up your data and do a factory reset. Then only re-load apps you really need.

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PLEASE HELP

From Battered on July 23, 2021 :: 7:34 am

I have been in an abusive relationship longer than I care to admit and am ashamed.
My child’s father works for apple and I have an 8+ (yes I know this is ridiculous) that being said he was even recently promoted to some type of security and to be fair I have no idea if he took advantage of this or through his work, I’ve alerted them in the past (he was in a different position and I do not know what access he does and does not have) but they said there is no way to access my phone. However recently he did (still not sure how) without the horrific details it appears that he is still. Even shows recent backups and recent as yesterday. I can’t go into further scary details as he has money and I don’t and really all I want to do is protect my child and myself. Is there anything I can do about this???? I have done a hard reset and consistently change ALL my passwords but yet he broke in? He is also talking about and embellishing dates that never happened? I am very worried.
PLEASE HELP

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Listen to your gut

From Stephanie Quist on August 04, 2021 :: 9:58 am

In controlling relationships the controlling partner usually influences the other partner into feeling like their judgement and perceptions are not to be trusted. At it’s heart this isn’t about a phone, this is about trust and what kind of relationship you want. Listen to your gut. Trust yourself and take action when your instincts tell you to. There are programs that can help you and your child.

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Hacked big time

From Rita Blackmon on July 24, 2021 :: 5:21 am

I’ve had my photos stolen from my phone.
Everyday someone accuses me of sending viruses.
It is so bad they are going to lock my phone.
I haven’t sent anything in days.
This really makes me furious.
My virus app says I have no viruses and I’m confused.

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Weird pop up message

From Stephanie Quist on August 04, 2021 :: 9:29 am

When I opened my banking app today i got a pop up message that my phone needs an update with a link to clock. It wasn’t how i am usually notified i need an update so i used my back button to dismiss the pop up and then logged in to my banking app. I looked and my phone os is up to date. I read your article and downloaded bitdefender. My phone scan was clean. Did i dodge a bullet by not clicking that link or should i contact my bank to report i may have been hacked?

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Can you provide more information?

From Josh Kirschner on August 04, 2021 :: 6:47 pm

To clarify, did this happen when you went to your bank’s website to login or when you opened the bank’s app on your phone?

If it happened on the web, is there a chance you mis-entered the url and accidentally went to a malicious imposter site?

If it happened when you opened the app, it’s possible that it could be a real message if you are running an old version of Android/iOS and your bank requires/recommends an updated version, though it sounds very odd. What phone and operating system version are you running?

It’s good that Bitdefender didn’t find anything, though you may also want to try another app, like Lookout, for a second opinion. In any regard, I doubt your banking information was hacked, from what you describe, though I would strongly recommend turning on two-factor authentication for extra security (which everyone should be using, anyhow, for their bank accounts).

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Bank app

From Stephanie Quist on August 22, 2021 :: 12:59 am

It popped up when the bank app in my phone. Backed out w/out clicking pop up. Samsung note 8. Android “version 9” I think. Neither phone or app were needing an update when I checked.
Do you think i need 2 factor identification for my phone app too?

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That is an old Android version

From Josh Kirschner on August 23, 2021 :: 10:16 am

Android 9 is two versions ago - the current version is Android 11. So it doesn’t surprise me that you may have gotten a real warning from an app about your OS being out of date. Unfortunately, Android 9 is the last version of Android officially supported on the Samsung Note 8.

I always recommend using two-factor authentication for any critical services, especially your banking logins.

Malware

From Carolin Stevenson on August 05, 2021 :: 6:57 pm

When scrolling I ended up inadvertently on codingcaptcha.com and the nightmare of porn ads and scam iphone ads are now taking over my chrome..it also compromised my bank id app which I was forced to delete..I have enough to deal with atm..thought I had managed to block the sites but nope..will get someone eventually to fix but wish hackers would just cease..

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Malware

From Carolin Stevenson on August 05, 2021 :: 7:00 pm

Have been compromised by accidentally clicking on codingcaptcha.com it is a nightmre

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I'm not friggin crazy

From Midge on August 08, 2021 :: 6:57 pm

In the last 6 months ive gone through 5 phones and 4 phone numbers. My whole family thinks im delusional

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Not sure what's going on?

From charles on August 09, 2021 :: 11:13 pm

I have an iPhone 7+ and i downloaded the latest update.  That’s when it started, i think.  A “bot”, i believe got into my txt and sent txt’s to 5 ppl.  I was txting someone and it calked her face time?  I nvr use FT and neither does she?  This bot, Turned on my flashlight randomly, started video whenever.  Would play music whenever.  Would share personal info with me telling me my name, bank account numbers and places i’ve lived.  This “thing” would go through my pics, draw pictures and my phone was unable to charge.  Drained battery for about a day.  I play games, everything was messed up.  I couldn’t text, call, play or anything without paragraphs jumping around.  I am going to get a new phone but my question is…Should i change my number and start fresh?

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☕☕☕☕☕☕☕☕

From Edgar R Rivera on August 21, 2021 :: 10:40 am

Camera use without my authorization will be penalized.

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Well I was on TikTok and my keyboard started typing and it wasn’t nshsjssnhzjs it’s was full on

From Debbie on August 21, 2021 :: 6:29 pm

So yeah help me please

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Facebook logging out automatically, strange messages

From Shawn on August 28, 2021 :: 11:06 am

About a year ago I kept getting notifications on my phone that would say “searching device failed…retrying” and at about the same time my Google account was logged into from a unknown Lenovo computer. Around this time my Facebook account would randomly log me out. When I used the messenger app to message a few specific people my phone would suddenly get the above notification. Only when I talked to those three people. I once called my dad only to hear my sister saying hello. My cell number popped up on her caller ID but when I double checked my call history I did indeed dial my dad’s cell phone.  This past spring I was repeatedly logged out of my Facebook randomly over and over within a month long period of time.  I eventually got a new phone and I haven’t had any issues YET. I hate to over think the situation but I have been the victim of stalking and cyber bullying before. I just want to be prepared.

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Hacked all my CC and accounts

From apj2ndchance on August 28, 2021 :: 2:34 pm

Can someone please help explain to me how someone could gain access to my Cash App on my phone and or Card with NFC, and proceed to copy all my cards info; apparently watching my usual financial behavior gain access to my Cash App account pretend its me add cash from my checking, Credit cards etc… then use duplicates of my other cards that have NFC to access the funds systematically without alerting me by intercepting my txt messages and replying Yes to prevent any fraud alerts. How can someone do all this within a couple of weeks.

It seems when I applied for a personal loan to pay off some bills and stuff I starting receiving a serious amount of emails and txt messages soclicting loan opportunies. Since then after receiving some funding to my checking they began systematically debited my account behind legetimate transactions and I had no clue what was happening until Thursday night fri early early morning. I’m like also Negative 2k in my checking because KeyBank has a promise to pay policy that I didn’t know I had to opt out of if I wanted to. By then it was too late. The damage was done. So after hearing this can someone explain how someone can do this wether it was a combination of a skimmer or software app that was put on my phone or just walking by me. How Can they have all this capabilities unless I clicked on a something in my txt messages that allowed access???

I need serious help understanding. My bank’s fraud department is on the case but I also need to contact all my other compromised accounts.

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Never get my emails straight away.

From Yvonne on September 05, 2021 :: 4:27 pm

Hi Josh, I never get my emails straight away. It is effecting work and home life.
I thought it is because my phone needs updating. With covid most things have gone to online, that would normally be done face to face. Updated to a new phone on my contract and the same keeps happing. I’ve just missed an email that could have changed my life. I am pissed off.  I need to do something about it. I have asked the mobile company for help. I have internet security. What more can I do?

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This sounds like an email settings or provider issue

From Josh Kirschner on September 08, 2021 :: 9:10 am

The issue with delayed emails sounds like an issue with you email provider or the settings on your phone, not a hacking problem. Is Gmail the one you’re having issues with? If so, it’s not your provider. How did you set up email on your phone? With the providers app (e.g., Gmail) or with the included phone app? If the latter, when you set up your email, did you set it up for POP or IMAP? How long are your emails being delayed?

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Never get my emails straight away.

From Zara on September 09, 2021 :: 5:14 pm

Hi Yvonne again they are delayed by days. It is effecting work and home life. Should I go back to manufacturing settings. Is linked with not being able to access my apps when they are saved by Google and having to access them several times within a short period of time.

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Can you provide more info?

From Josh Kirschner on September 13, 2021 :: 8:19 pm

What email service is this for? Gmail? Is all email delayed by days or just certain emails?

You can always try resetting your phone, but it sounds more like something on your email service provider side.

Husband lies or hacked help..

From Casey on September 12, 2021 :: 9:36 am

How can i determine and prove wether husband is lieing and covering up stuff or am i really hacked?

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My cam's been hacked

From Astrid on September 18, 2021 :: 8:22 pm

I have an idea of whom may be responsible but idk how they do it and if it’s still going. But like 2 years ago pics from me in the shower poped up, I didn’t took them but I did listen to spotify while showering all the time. Since then I’ve changed my phone but I still have the same carrier, Google and Samsung account, so idk if it’s still going and how to stop it.

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