It’s not uncommon for people to keep sensitive information like passwords and bank information on their smartphones. We also use our phones for multi-factor authentication and resetting passwords. Receiving a text message with a verification code might make us feel safer, but we need to consider that if a hacker takes control of our phones, they can redirect these text messages to another device which will give them access to our online accounts.
Online banking and shopping may have made our lives easier but, since they require us to enter sensitive information, they make our phones a tempting target for hackers, and there are all sorts of ways they can attack. Smartphones have become the prey of choice for hackers.
This kind of information can be held for ransom or sold on the dark web. An attack can also result in losing control over your phone completely. And remember that hackers don’t always need to physically handle your smartphone to compromise it.
But despite all this, smartphone security gets a lot less attention than computer security, and most people don’t even take basic precautions. By reading this article, you can learn four ways your smartphone can be hacked and how to avoid it.
There’s no lack of apps that allow you to track someone’s location and listen in on their conversations without them knowing. They’re usually advertised to suspicious partners or parents who want to keep tabs on their children. This type of apps not only gives you the phone’s GPS location, but it also allows you to log calls, view text messages, emails, photos, and internet history – all remotely. Some can even use the phone’s microphone to record in-person conversations. It’s basically everything a hacker could ever dream of doing with your phone.
What’s worse is you could already have a spy app on your phone and have no idea. They’re easy to install and usually very discreet. Maybe you’ll notice that your battery life is a bit shorter, or you’re using up more internet traffic, but that’s about it.
You can find spy apps on Google Play and unofficial iOS or Android app stores, so if someone has access to your phone, they can easily download one and install it. As a general rule, you should avoid downloading apps from unverified sources since they could contain malware. In some cases, this malware will enable hackers to use your phone to create botnets.
Because these apps are often installed by someone close to you, the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to use a strong passcode that will reduce the likelihood of someone getting access. You should also avoid jailbreaking your phone because it’s easier to hide spy apps on jailbroken devices.
Lastly, you should install a reliable mobile security app.
Although extremely well-known, phishing remains one of the most effective and therefore popular hacking techniques. People are typically the weakest link in cybersecurity, so strategies that rely on social engineering have better chances of success. Although nowadays most people know that they shouldn’t click on links or open attachments from random emails, they tend to be less cautious when using their phones. And on smartphones, you can receive both emails and text messages.
These messages usually appear to come from trustworthy sources like friends, employers, or companies you do business with. They also tend to have a sense of urgency to give you a compelling reason to take action. For instance, the message could inform you of some suspicious activity on your account and give you instructions on what you need to do to remedy the situation.
It could look like it’s coming from the IRS during tax season or a friend urging you to check out an embarrassing photo of yourself from a party. These days, messages and emails related to the novel coronavirus are very popular.
The instructions will almost always lead you to either download something that contains malware or give away sensitive information.
To protect yourself from this kind of cyberattack, it’s best to double-check the sender. If you’re getting emails that claim to be from the IRS or your bank, double-check by visiting their official website and getting their contact information. In terms of installing apps, if you have an iPhone and it isn’t jailbroken, it won’t let you install anything that isn’t on the official App Store. Android phones will give you a warning that you shouldn’t ignore.
Hacked iCloud and Google Accounts
You won’t believe the wealth of information a hacker can access by hacking your iCloud or Google account. Saved passwords, current location, browsing history, call logs, messages, and all the photos you backed up.
If you have nude photos and you’re not a celebrity, there’s no danger that they’ll get leaked to the press, but hackers can use them to blackmail you.
Moreover, hacking into your Google account means hacking into your Gmail as well, which might be connected to other accounts, allowing for identity theft at a level that can seriously compromise your credit.
And hackers don’t even need to have physical access to your phone to do this. Many people use their names in their email addresses and use their email account to sign up for different services. They often have weak passwords containing personal details, and even when they don’t, the security questions will have answers that are readily available on the internet. That’s why it’s better not to give honest answers to security questions.
To minimize the risk, you should, first of all, create strong passwords and avoid using the same ones for multiple accounts. You’ll also want to enable login notifications that will inform you if someone signed in from another device. Lastly, use multi-factor authentication so hackers can’t get into your account without also having access to your phone.
This sort of attack has a low risk because many elements have to come together to make it possible. Any sort of wireless connection is vulnerable to hacking, including Bluetooth, but any weaknesses are quickly patched through security updates.
If a hacker is able to connect to your phone via Bluetooth, they can get access to the sensitive data on it. When this tactic succeeds, it’s usually also through social engineering. For example, they can trick you into pairing with their device by giving it a name like AirPods.
To your phone safe from Bluetooth hacking, it’s best to only keep your Bluetooth on when you’re using it and avoid pairing when you’re in public and in range of possibly malicious devices.