Tech Made Simple

Hot Topics: How to Fix Bluetooth Pairing Problems | Complete Guide to Facebook Privacy | How to Block Spam Calls | Snapchat Symbol Meaning

author photo

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

Techlicious editors independently review products. To help support our mission, we may earn affiliate commissions from links contained on this page.

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

My friend is able to listen my conversations over mobile phone

From Hemant on January 21, 2018 :: 4:33 am

When I talk to someone over my mobile phone Lenovo Vibe K5 Note, it seems one of my friend is able to listen the conversations. He used my phone for around 30-40 minutes as his phone was not working around 15 days ago.
Could you tell what app might be installed in my phone and how could I remove the same. thanks…

Reply

Download a security app for your phone

From Josh Kirschner on January 22, 2018 :: 2:09 pm

See step 1 above. Download one of our recommended security apps and see what it finds.

Reply

Please help me know if my boyfriend's phone is hacked

From Libokanyo Khabo on January 23, 2018 :: 3:44 pm

More often when I call him someone responds…it happens even when my bf is out to where there is no network coverage. Could it be that the person hacked my bf phone or he is merely cheating like that?

Reply

Keylogger

From Lisa on January 24, 2018 :: 4:42 pm

I realized about 6 months my phone was being hacked by my ex’s gf (long story) and since then I have a new phone (Samsung Galaxy 8plus)  and changed as much personal information in regards to social media accounts and email account etc.  She was reading texts, emails etc.
I’m worried a keylogger software could of been installed on my old phone. Would that software still be associated with my telephone number? Should I change my number??
I lose sleep because she just won’t leave me alone. Trying to protect myself!

Reply

Spyware is device specific, not number specific

From Josh Kirschner on January 26, 2018 :: 2:50 am

The types of spyware you are likely to encounter are device-specific. That is, they are apps installed on a specific device and are not connected to the phone number of that device. There are some types of spying that are based on phone number (see SS7 vulnerability above), but it’s unlikely that your ex would be able to engage in that type of spying unless she is particularly strong technically and connected into major spy agencies or shady security software circles.

Reply

got eem

From Tor on January 25, 2018 :: 7:05 pm

God bless your sweet heart, josh. Youre such a trooper replying to these insane comments

Reply

Txt message

From Ijim on January 31, 2018 :: 9:18 am

My wife’s phone supposedly has been hacked her text messages are between two people supposedly her and someone else can a hacker put up these messages

Reply

how to tell if phone is hacked

From Kimberly on February 10, 2018 :: 7:17 pm

My cell phone bill is very high a lot of Gig a bite’s used and I hardly use it ? what do I do also I’m locked out of my Apps I could really use some help

Reply

Not clear what is happening

From Josh Kirschner on February 12, 2018 :: 4:00 pm

You didn’t say what type of phone you have, but you can see what apps are using data in Settings>Cellular>Usage on iPhone or Settings>Network & Internet>Data Usage>Mobile Data Usage on Android to see what apps are using your data (these settings may vary slightly depending on what version of Android/iOS you’re running and your phone manufacturer.

As far as being locked out of your apps, I don’t understand what you mean by that. Can you elaborate?

Reply

Confused

From Dani on February 15, 2018 :: 11:17 pm

So, out of vulnerability I did a survey for an Amazon gift card stupidly, put in my number and email. Is there a possibility of getting hacked and how would I know? Please help!

Reply

Hacked? No. Spam? Yes.

From Josh Kirschner on February 16, 2018 :: 11:35 am

There’s no way someone can hack you just by knowing your phone number and email address. However, it does open you up for phishing type attacks. That said, these gift card things are usually a way of collecting info so they can spam you and resell your email address to others to spam you.

Reply

Last resort.

From SKM on February 18, 2018 :: 3:36 am

After reading through all of the messages to you, I was relieved to see you still are responding. And shocked, I must say.  I have had suspicions that my husband has been tracking my phones for the last 6 or so years. It’s past suspicion, I know, but being that no matter what I do, nothing changes. I’ve learned to just turne a blind eye bc at some point it can drive oneself mad. A few examples: My text messages have shown as duplicates on my bill, for a few years with ATT and now Sprint. My Usage shows in gigabytes. Completely disproportionate from my actual usage. I read your older post before this one, and saw what I had expected all along about the “android system” showing in my app info. I had done all I could with android and felt too vulnerable, so finally switched back to IPhones. I have the strangest system diagnostic show up. He acts ignorant to all things phone related, yet is a frequent follower of Github. He is a gamer, and always has to the best electronics. And for just our household he has to always have what he deems the best for computer equipment. He is very savvy. We have an Asus dual band 802.11 AC gigabyte router, which makes me wonder if the hacking is network related. I’ve done everything you have said and more. I change passwords, I stopped using FB or any other social media site bc I didn’t want to make it any easier. I have read so many books trying to learn anything I can about all things computers: networks, p2p, java, coding (mainly bc I found a file on his computer with so much code, much of it with target 0 and I thought that may be the key). Much of it doesn’t soak in. It’s hard to when I have to constantly look up what what thing means just to turn around and have to look up another. Programing is just not in the cards for me!
I know you are busy, but anything you can do to help would be so greatly appreciated. I will gladly pay for your services. I look forward to hearing from you. I’ll be checking my email! Thank you!

Reply

Follow our advice above first, then deal with bigger issue

From Josh Kirschner on February 20, 2018 :: 5:33 pm

From what you said in your note I’m not clear on why you think you’re being spied on, beyond excess data usage (which you can check in your settings to to see what apps are using your data). My daughter had HUGE data usage (GBs) simply because she had her Instagram set to download data in the background. Once we changed that on her phone, her data dropped significantly.

With the iPhone, it’s very difficult to spy on someone unless their iPhone is jailbroken or they have access to your iCloud account. If neither of those things is true, then it probably isn’t happening, but you can always reset your phone to confirm and ensure you have a lock feature that no one can bypass except for you in the future.

You can easily monitor network traffic via a home network if you know what you’re doing, but that wouldn’t be true for text messages or any encrypted connections (https).

Perhaps the more fundamental question you need to ask is not a technical one, but a human one. If you and your husband don’t have a basic level of trust, and you haven’t for at least the six years you think he has been spying on you, isn’t that the real issue? Because even if I could prove to you that he was spying on your phone (or that he wasn’t), resolving that doesn’t change the relationship issues that are causing the situation you’re writing in about - those will still be there long after your phone issues are resolved and will just foment themselves in other ways.

Reply

Hey josh- how would u

From Anon on July 08, 2018 :: 3:04 pm

Hey josh- how would u monitor home traffic?

Reply

The easiest way is through your router

From Josh Kirschner on July 08, 2018 :: 8:46 pm

Many home routers offer logs or built-in parental control features that let you see what sites are being visited. There are also “sniffer” programs that let you monitor network activity from a computer. A quick Google search will provide more info for you if you’re interested in getting into the details.

Icloud

From Mj on December 19, 2021 :: 3:54 am

I feel like my ex does have access to my accounts thru the simplest of ways. I was trying to think of all these gadgets and things I didn’t understand. And then it dawned on me. He uses my license and my SS# to obtain my info. I think? I had my ID just randomly come up missing a few years ago and my SS card. I also believe he has dated an ATT employee and also one of his customers is an ATT employee. Is this a possible way? And what should I do if so. When I say this ATT worker is a customer I mean a customer of an illegal business. If you know bay I mean. I think he does this not because he cares but to make sure I’m keeping my mouth shut and not telling what I know which is apparently more than I thought. Because why would someone put so much effort into knowing what I’m saying or doing? Especially if they could care less. I know this sounds crazy but my ex is in deep. And I think this is truly happening. It sounds like a movie and sometimes I think I’m crazy but deep down I know I’m not. I know this is going on.

Reply

I dont feel alone...

From Pool Boy on November 16, 2018 :: 11:05 pm

All i can say is wow…i have ben reading and feeling the same exact way for almist as long..i know its there..follwing me my number..etc..when i sked her about code she acted stupid although i saw apps on her laptop that when i looked them up it was for coding are related to help (ssh) she denies then they disapear…. She runs all internet so to say networks etc..she runs to mailbox to always “get” mail..i find shredded are mail coming in to her as prepaid cards she laffs o thats junk…i dont get those..she has tons of “Aliases” i think they call them..but point…when i find something online. Its like im denied..get error are i never find again..especially after Google sets in.

Reply

Help.. hacked?

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

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

Reply

It's possible

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

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

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

Reply

Can you literally watch someone from a thousand miles away?

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

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

Reply

Yes, it's possible

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

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

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

Reply

Explain this

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

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

Reply

My phone did the same sort of thing

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

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

Reply

I guess you not gonna answer

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

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

Reply

Hello,why you ignore my question?

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

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

Reply

Here's your answer

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

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

Reply

Caller Changes to unknown whilst on a call

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

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

Reply

Not sure, but have a guess

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

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

Reply

Helloooo ,why won't you reply?

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

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

Reply

your'e an a$$

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

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

Reply

Chill Lady!

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

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

Reply

Umm okay then

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

Gee thanks for nothing!

Reply

Also Gang Stalked (Toronto, Canada)

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

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

Reply

Well is there anything that

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

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

Reply

Just guessing

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

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

Reply

I'm sure of one thing

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

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

Reply

Wifes phone hacked

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

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

Reply

May not be phone hacking

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

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

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

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

Reply

Hacked

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

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

Reply

Now my Gmail is hacked

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

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

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

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

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

Reply

Can Nokias be hacked

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

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

Reply

Can a Nokia be hacked?

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

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

Reply

I doubt it

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

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

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

Reply

It is possible, wife and brother witnessed

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

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

Reply

@James Williams.

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

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

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

Reply

Yes they have tech that can scramble the camera

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

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

Reply

iPhone 6s

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

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

Reply

Have I been hacked or does my phone just suck

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

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

Reply

Probably an non-spy app causing issues

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

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

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

Reply

Was I hacked I dont know what to do?

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

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

Reply

Most likely not connected

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

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

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

Reply

Read More Comments: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Home | About | Meet the Team | Contact Us
Media Kit | Newsletter Sponsorships
Accessibility Statement
Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookie Policy

Techlicious participates in affiliate programs, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which provide a small commission from some, but not all, of the "click-thru to buy" links contained in our articles. These click-thru links are determined after the article has been written, based on price and product availability — the commissions do not impact our choice of recommended product, nor the price you pay. When you use these links, you help support our ongoing editorial mission to provide you with the best product recommendations.

© Techlicious LLC.