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Is Your Phone Hacked? How To Find Out & Protect Yourself

Unless you’re dealing with an extremely sophisticated piece of malware, there are often obvious clues that your smartphone is under attack, or already compromised by hackers or viruses.

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is your phone hacked how to find out and protect yourself

Is your phone hacked? These days, most people are pretty switched on when it comes to the dangers of computer viruses and hacked PCs. We’ve all become pretty paranoid about clicking weird email links and downloading random files from dubious websites. Yet, for all of the effort we put into keeping our PCs safe from malware and hackers, our smartphones often get neglected when it comes to cybersecurity.

Sure, the average iPhone or Android device is leagues ahead of an outdated version of Windows when it comes to security, but if you think that your phone is impervious to infiltration by criminals and scammers, think again.

In this guide, we’ll explain how your phone can be targeted by cybercriminals, show you some of the telltale signs that your device has been compromised, and finally, give you some vital tips to rescue your phone and data from the clutches of the hackers.

How To Tell If Your Phone Has Been Hacked

Unless you’re dealing with an extremely sophisticated piece of malware, there are often obvious clues that your smartphone is under attack, or already compromised by hackers or viruses. Here are some of the most prevalent side effects of a hacked smartphone:

The Battery Drains Extremely Quickly

All phone batteries degrade over time, resulting in a device that won’t hold a charge for as long as it used to. However, in the case of a hacked smartphone, the power can sometimes drain extremely rapidly for no apparent reason.

“Phone spyware stays active all the time, so it quickly saps power and drains the battery, so this could be a sign that your cell phone has been compromised” – Tim Lynch, PhD, Psychsoftpc.com.

Your Data Use Has Skyrocketed

A really obvious sign that your phone has been hacked or contains a malware app is a huge spike in data usage: Typically, a hacked phone will upload large chunks of information, which will show up in your data usage when away from your home WiFi network. Downloading an app like “Data Usage” can help you to monitor for any irregular activity outside of your normal online activities.

The Phone Is Really Hot

Going hand-in-hand with a quickly draining battery and large spikes in data use, a super hot phone can be a sign that you’re device is compromised. If you regularly find that your phone’s exterior case is hot to the touch, even when idle, you may have a hacked handset.

Overall Performance Is Sluggish

If you regularly experience crashes, slow performance or a delay when making calls or sending texts even after a restart, there’s a chance that your phone has been hijacked.

The Phone Has Dialed/Texted Numbers Without Your Input

Here’s a scary scenario: You’re informed by some of your contacts that you’ve bombarded them with weird text messages or automated phone calls, but you have no knowledge of anything untoward ever happening. If you ever experience this kind of behavior from your phone, it’s a sure bet that you’ve been hacked.

You’re Experiencing Lots Of Pop-Ups & Random App Installs

Remember those PC viruses that slowly strangled your machine with pop-ups and installed weird spam applications that you didn’t authorize? Well this kind of hack is starting gain traction in the smartphone world now too.

Your Gmail Or iCloud Accounts Are Acting Strangely

Services like iCloud and Gmail are rich targets for hackers, as they contain a lot of sensitive information that could be exploited for theft or extortion. Typical signs that your main accounts have been hacked include password reset notifications that you didn’t make, as well as security checks and verification emails telling you that you’ve added a new device.

So How Did Your Smartphone Get Hacked?

Now that you can spot a few of the signs that indicate your phone is compromised, you’re probably wondering how a phone hack could happen in the first place? Surely modern smartphones aren’t that easy to sabotage?

The reality is that hacking a modern phone is virtually impossible without an error of judgement from the device’s owner. Here are some common mistakes that could leave you vulnerable to foul play:

Downloading Malware App

As a general rule, it’s much easier to inadvertently download a dubious app on the Google Play Store than on Apple’s App Store, as the former is less likely to vet their apps quite as vigorously. Android devices also tend to be owned by people who prefer to customize their phone’s operating system, and this can lead to downloads from places outside of the official marketplace.

Opening A Dubious Link

From fake bank or credit card emails to files sent to you from a friend’s already compromised device or app, clicking the links contained inside of “Phishing” emails is a surefire way to get yourself into trouble.

Using Compromised Passwords

Reusing passwords is a huge error, and one of the most simple ways for hackers to gain access to your Google or iCloud accounts. Once a thief gains access to your main accounts, it’s extremely difficult to keep in control of the situation, leading to devastating results.

Charging Your Device At A Public USB Point

If you’re low on power when out and about in public, try to resist the urge to charge your device using a public USB socket. Hackers have been known to hide devices in these chargers, allowing them to control your device with the intention of adding secret apps and malware via the USB input, including key loggers that can monitor everything you type into your apps.

If you do need to top up your phone in public, always use your own USB charger to ensure you’re not connected to anything malicious.

Using Free WiFi

Free WiFi is super convenient and avoids draining your phone’s data plan. However, unless you use a VPN (virtual private network) to connect to the free WiFi in coffee shops and airports, there’s a chance that your data could be intercepted as it bounces back and forth between your device and the wireless base station.

What To Do If Your Phone Gets Hacked

If you have a suspicion that your smartphone has been hacked, try not to panic. Phone hacks can be serious, but if you act immediately to limit the damage, you should be able to recover from the attack:

Change All Of Your Passwords Immediately

Even if your device hasn’t been hacked, changing your passwords now and then can help to give you peace of mind that your data is safe. Make sure all of your passwords are unique, and make them hard to crack. If the option is available, always use two factor authentication, especially on mission-critical services like your Google account or iCloud.

If you’re having trouble remembering your passwords, use a decent password manager like Myki, 1PasswordBitwarden or LastPass.

Monitor Your Financial Accounts

Once you have your major passwords secure, go through all of your financial services, such as bank accounts and credit cards, checking for any out of the ordinary purchases or charges. If you see anything suspicious, immediately contact your bank or card provider, and they will begin the process of reimbursing you for your losses and investigating the fraud.

Use Google Play Protect

Apple users won’t typically need to worry about compromised apps, but for Android users suspicious of a data breach via a downloaded app, it’s good practice to use Google Play Protect to scan for (and remove) malware on your phone.

To check your device, go to the Google Play Store app, click the three-line icon in the top-left left corner of your screen. Next, tap Google Play Protect, then hit the scan button.

Factory Reset Your Phone

If your phone does have malware or a virus, it’s usually best practice to bite the bullet and wipe the device clean with a factory reset. Doing this will erase all the data on the phone, so it’s vital that you have everything backed up somewhere in the cloud so that you can quickly get back up and running with minimal losses.

Learn How To Protect Yourself From Hackers & Malware

Many smartphone users still aren’t sufficiently clued up to spot a phishing scam or dubious app before it’s too late. With data theft and hacking continually on the rise, it’s imperative that you wise up, toughen your privacy settings and passwords, and learn as much as you can about data theft and online security.

Do some research, stay safe, and never get your phone hacked again with these simple tips!

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Security

DDoS Attacks Are A Growing Threat In Gaming

The cybercriminals behind the attacks have a variety of different motives, from extorting money from gaming companies to causing reputation damage to preventing competing players from winning out of competitiveness.

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Imagine you’re about to get a Victory Royale in Fortnite, score a deciding goal in FIFA, or defuse the bomb in Counter-Strike when suddenly a message appears on your screen, informing you that you’ve been disconnected.

Wasting no time, you load the game again and discover that a connection can’t be established. Why? Because either you or the game’s servers are under a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.

Such attacks are a growing threat in gaming, and we at Tech Magazine had the opportunity to discuss them with Emad Fahmy, Systems Engineering Manager Middle East at NETSCOUT. Here’s what we learned.

What Are DDoS Attacks In Gaming?

DDoS attacks are a type of cybercrime that makes resources unavailable by overloading the network across which they are transmitted with malicious requests. DDoS attacks first appeared in 2010 amid the rise of “hacktivism,” but they have evolved significantly since then, as observed in the NETSCOUT Threat Intelligence Report H2 2021.

emad fehmy netscout

Emad Fahmy, Systems Engineering Manager Middle East @ NETSCOUT

”In gaming, DDoS attacks might be directed at a single user or an entire organization,” explains Fahmy. “While an attack on a single user only affects them by slowing down their gaming experience, an attack on an organization can have a greater impact on the game’s entire user base, resulting in a group of disgruntled players who no longer have access to the game or have had their experience significantly slowed.”

The cybercriminals behind the attacks have a variety of different motives, from extorting money from gaming companies to causing reputation damage to preventing competing players from winning out of competitiveness.

Anyone Can Launch A DDoS Attack

To successfully launch a DDoS attack against a game or its players, attackers need to send so many malicious requests at the same time that the victim can’t possibly answer them all without becoming overloaded.

These requests are typically sent by bots, hacked devices (computers, routers, IoT appliances, and so on) that do what attackers tell them to do. Even a relatively small network of bots, or botnet for short, can be used to launch a massive DDoS attack.

These days, attackers don’t even have to hack vulnerable devices to obtain the DDoS firepower they need to take a target down. They can simply take advantage of DDoS-for-Hire services, which provide DDoS attacks ranging from no cost to greater than $6,500 for terabit-class attacks, according to the NETSCOUT report.

“DDoS-for-Hire services have made attacks easier to launch. We examined 19 DDoS-for-Hire services and their capabilities that eliminate the technical requirements and cost of launching massive DDoS attacks. When combined, they offer more than 200 different attack types,” says Fahmy.

Preventing DDoS Gaming Attacks

In 2021 alone, NETSCOUT recorded 9.7 million DDoS attacks, an increase of 14 percent compared with 2019. To reverse this gloomy trend, both gaming companies and gamers themselves need to take it seriously and adopt specific measures to protect themselves.

“Relying on firewalls and intrusion detection systems is no longer sufficient. This is because DDoS attacks can now manipulate or destroy them. Despite advances in cloud-based detection, the company’s Internet Service Provider (or Managed Security Service Provider) may still struggle to identify threats that wait in the shadows until it is too late,” explains Fahmy. “As a result, an on-premises DDoS risk management solution is critical,” he adds.

Individual gamers, especially eSports players and streamers, can make it harder for cybercriminals to aim DDoS attacks at them using a virtual private network (VPN) service like ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, or NordVPN. Such services channel users’ traffic through their servers, hiding its real origin in the process.

In addition to hiding their IP addresses, gamers should also adhere to cybersecurity best practices. Examples include timely installation of software updates and exercising caution when browsing the web, chatting online, or reading emails.

Conclusion

DDoS, or Distributed Denial of Service attacks, represent a serious threat to the gaming industry because they can compromise the gaming experience and expose developers to the risk of brand damage and potential extortion. DDoS attacks have evolved and become far more sophisticated in recent years. Fortunately, the same can be said about on-premises DDoS risk management solutions that gaming companies use to protect themselves.

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