Besides communications, we heavily use our phones to store personal information. Unfortunately, smartphones come with vulnerabilities, including remote hacking.
Ways your phone can be hacked
Mobile phones have become a prime target for hackers who strive to gain unauthorized access to your phone and/or steal sensitive data. Let’s explore how your phone can be hacked remotely and tips to protect yourself against such invasions.
Phishing attacks via emails or texts can go unnoticed as some seem to come from legitimate sources. The messages usually ask for personal details or that you click attached links. When you click the link, hackers gain access to your phone and can control it remotely, leading to privacy breaches, among other consequences.
Apps installed from unofficial sources are risky. This is because such apps may have poor security measures, meaning they can be a breeding ground for malware. Installing these malicious apps can provide a backdoor for hackers to access your phone remotely. It can compromise everything from sensitive messages to financial data, among other personally identifiable information.
Public Wi-Fi networks
Connecting to public Wi-Fi networks is a risk you don’t want to take, as some are unsecured, exposing your device to potential hacking. Hackers target the public and free Wi-Fi and exploit their vulnerabilities. They take advantage of the data transmitted between your device and the internet.
Cybercriminals intercept the connection and gain access to your device without your knowledge. Once hacked, they can steal vital information or remotely access your phone and monitor your online activities even after disconnecting from public Wi-Fi.
SIM swap fraud
In a SIM swap attack, hackers gain control of your phone number by tricking your mobile carrier into assigning your number to their device. Hackers controlling your phone number can divert calls and text messages, among other communications. It means they can gain vital information like two-factor authentication codes, giving them access to your online accounts.
Sometimes, software, especially the newly developed ones, can have vulnerabilities unknown to the manufacturer or the user. Hackers take advantage of these vulnerabilities, providing a door to infiltrate your device without your knowledge. The known vulnerabilities are patched through regular updates, but zero-day exploits operate in the shadows until they are discovered and addressed.
Hackers use the element of surprise as exploits can be from malicious websites where spyware is installed in silence and gathers information without alarming the user. A cybercriminal gaining access through a zero-day exploit can control your device in any way. For instance, they can turn on the microphone and camera, listen to your conversations, and read your messages.
Ways to protect your iPhone from getting hacked
Now, you know some ways your phone can be hacked remotely. Such knowledge helps you pick on tells that you have been hacked, which can help stop it from progressing. For Apple users, here is how you can remove spyware from iPhone. Let’s look at common ways to protect your device from being remotely hacked.
Mobile security software
You can install antivirus and anti-malware software to provide an extra layer of defense against potential threats, especially if you use your phone for sensitive matters. The trick here is to ensure the security software is from a reputable source. Investing in these tools can help detect and block any spyware from installing on your phone.
Create different and strong passwords
Use different and strong passwords for your phone, social media, and financial accounts. Using simple and the same passwords for several accounts can make it easy for cybercriminals to hack your phone and other online accounts. You should also change your passwords regularly for optimal security.
Use two-factor authentication
Activating two-factor/step authentication is a critical extra layer of security. The measure requires a second verification, usually a code sent to your phone or email to access an account. Authentication adds a layer of protection since the hacker needs the code to access your phone.
Operating systems and apps require regular updates for your phone’s security. This is because developers release updates to patch security vulnerabilities. The updates make it more challenging for cybercriminals to find and exploit weak points to hack your phone. The updates can also help spot and remove any malware about to be installed. The best part is that the updates also enhance performance, which can speed up your phone.
Avoid public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi networks are usually unsecured. This provides an open door for hackers. It is recommended that you avoid public Wi-Fi networks. If you must use public Wi-Fi, consider virtual private networks (VPNs). The VPN will encrypt your internet connection, making it harder to be intercepted and hacked.
The simplest caution that’s often overlooked is where you download apps. It is essential that you only install apps from official stores like Apple and Play Store. Official stores feature protective measures like Google Play Protect. They scan and routinely remove risky apps, mitigating the chances of exposing your phone to attacks.
Cybercriminals often use enticing tactics to trick users into installing irresistible apps. Also, be careful when granting app permissions, and regularly review and uninstall apps you no longer use. Besides the apps, also avoid clicking every link, especially from unknown sources.
Hackers can use your data for blackmail, commit crimes like identity theft, or leak your sensitive information to the public for various reasons. This can lead to consequences such as:
- Stress and anxiety
- Financial losses, to name a few
Considering such destructive consequences, learning how to protect your phone in the modern technological era is vital. With the above tips, you will make it harder for cybercriminals to gain access and control of your phone.
As much as it presents threats, smartphone usage will keep rising. Staying informed and implementing security measures is the best way to ensure your phone is safe from being hacked. By understanding the impact of being hacked and ways to mitigate the risks, you can take proactive steps and exercise caution in your online activities to safeguard your personal information. This can ensure you enjoy the convenience of your smartphone without falling victim to malicious cyber intruders.