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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.



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Sure, the average iPhone or Android device is leagues ahead of an outdated version of Windows when it comes to security, but if you think that your phone is impervious to infiltration by criminals and scammers, think again.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

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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Big Tech Knows Too Much. More Regulation Is The Answer

Despite claiming otherwise, Big Tech still shares your data with third parties, and the only thing that can stop them is stricter regulations.



big tech knows too much more regulation is the answer

It’s 2023, and pretty much everyone has access to the internet. As we’ve become more reliant on the internet and other smart devices, we’ve also grown increasingly accustomed to companies collecting our data in the background. It’s also not uncommon to hear of cases where customer data is being misused. This begs the question, what is Big Tech doing with so much data?

The answer, we’re afraid, is complicated.

Carefully Curated Experiences

You’re probably familiar with the concept of creating a “personalized experience”. You might also be aware that providing a user with a personalized experience involves knowing what their interests are (what they appreciate or dislike), and the best way to find out a user’s interests is, you guessed it, to check their online activity.

Collecting user data to personalize services is ubiquitous on the internet. It’s seen on social media platforms, video sharing sites like YouTube, and even e-commerce platforms like Amazon. These services use your browsing data to recommend content that it thinks you might appreciate, and admittedly, this approach works pretty well. Let’s be honest, no one wants to be bombarded with irrelevant content. People appreciate familiarity, and getting content that they can relate to makes for a far more enjoyable user experience. Plus, it’s these personalized content recommendations that make social media platforms like TikTok so addictive — and profitable.

This form of data collection isn’t such a big deal, so long as these corporations are transparent about what data they’re using and why. However, Big Tech is anything but transparent, and it’s at this point where things can get sketchy.

Rage Against The Ad Machine

We’ve all been there. One moment, you’re looking up gaming laptops on Google, and the next, you’re bombarded with advertisements for gaming laptops on your social feed or during a completely unrelated browsing session. Unsettling? Yes. But how does this work?

The sites or apps that supposedly collect user data to “enhance user experience” also sometimes sell this data to advertisers or other third-party trackers.

Let’s look at Google as an example of how the wider ad machine works. When it comes to the quantity of data being handled, few companies can compare. With a seemingly endless stream of data at its disposal, with sources ranging from Chrome, to Maps, and even Bard, it’s no mystery why. Combine endless amounts of data with the single largest advertising platform, and you get the perfect money-making ad machine.

Real-Time Bidding: A Game Of Half-Truths

Google claims, in no uncertain terms, that it does not sell your personal data. So case closed, right? If only it were that simple.

Technically, Google isn’t lying. If you go by the strictest definition of a sale, where a commodity is exchanged for money, then no, Google is not a data broker and it doesn’t sell your data. However, Google monetizes your data in other ways, which does involve sharing your data with third parties. One such method is real-time bidding (RTB).

So How Does RTB Work?

RTB is a form of programmatic advertising where ad spaces are automatically auctioned off to the highest bidder on a per-impression basis.

Without getting into too much detail, when a user begins a session on a particular page, their data (including location and browsing history) is collected and broadcasted by supply-side platforms (SSPs) to a group of demand-side platforms (DSPs), which automatically place bids for ad space on that specific session. The winning bid is then displayed to the user. User data is shared here to ensure that only relevant advertisements will be shown to the user during that session. This entire process is automated and takes only milliseconds.

Admittedly, RTB is incredibly efficient as an advertising tool. But it’s unfortunately a questionable practice due to the privacy implications, with some experts claiming that RTB practices violate GDPR principles.

The issue with RTB is that it also involves sharing highly specific data, so while RTB platforms aren’t directly sharing personal data, they most certainly are indirectly sharing data that is detailed and specific enough to tie to a particular user. Furthermore, it’s not just the highest bidder that gets to view this data — everyone who participates in the auctions can. These exchanges have no control over how the broadcasted data is used once the auction is complete. When you put everything together, you’re looking at an ugly combination of potential security risks. What makes things worse is that advertising platforms running RTB auctions are not transparent about what kind of data is being broadcasted.

Coming back to Google, the company can rightly claim that your data isn’t what’s being sold, rather, it’s the ad space within your browser. But, as we’ve already seen, RTBs involve the transfer of personal data. Please note that Google isn’t the only offender in this space. RTB is a common online advertising practice followed throughout the internet, and it’s important to be aware how Big Tech companies use vague language and loopholes to get away with sharing your data while claiming otherwise — directly or not.

Big Tech Is Watching You

Let’s reiterate this: We’re perfectly fine with tech companies using our data to provide us with an improved experience while we choose to use their services, provided they’re transparent about what data they’re collecting and how it’s being used. What isn’t okay is Big Tech getting away with misusing our data using vague jargon and legal loopholes. We can be grateful for data protection regulations like Europe’s GDPR, as well as California’s CCPA and CPRA, and other countries that have followed suit. It’s time for even stricter regulation to crack down on Big Tech’s exploitative business models.

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