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Nine Signs Your Phone Has Been Hacked

Updated: Jan 4, 2023

young asian woman in khaki shirt looking at phone in one hand with incredulity while waving credit card haphazardly in other hand

More than 60% of cyber fraud takes place on smartphones, not PCs or tablets, but that little computer you carry around with you all day. That makes it personal.

You hear of hackers accessing the data of large corporations and getting millions through ransomware or by selling the data they have stolen, but a criminal can access your phone through malware on an app you are using and cost you, personally, thousands in overage charges on your next mobile bill.

According to a new report from ad-fraud detection firm Forensiq, in-app fraud is on the verge of costing over $2 billion per year.

How It Works

Fraudulent apps generate traffic through most major networks, establishing over 1,100 connections per minute, and communicating with 320 ad networks, ad servers, exchanges, and data providers per hour. This taps deeply into users' mobile data plans - potentially as much as 2 GB a day.

The malware in the apps looks and acts legitimate, but is designed to evade detection. With it, you can wind up being served tens of thousands of ads daily as part of an unseen background process. Businesses are still charged for these ads - as much as $1 per click - while each invisible ad gets charged against your monthly data allotment.

All Android, Apple, and Windows phones are at risk, but researchers say Android apps are flagged three times more often than iOS apps.

How Can You Tell If Your Phone Has Been Hacked

Other than waiting each month to see if your data usage has soared, here are some clues you have been hacked:

  1. Signs of activity in standby mode. Your phone should be sleeping but lights up or makes unusual noises during standby mode.

  2. You hear weird sounds during phone calls, like beeps or flashing noises. Someone may be eavesdropping.

  3. Your phone takes a long time to power down. All running programs must power down before your phone goes black. You may have unwelcome software on your phone that is causing the power-down function to drag.

  4. Your battery is draining faster than usual. This could be a failing battery, or an indication spyware is using the phone's charge.

  5. You see an unfamiliar app installed on your phone. It is smart to do a routine review of your phone's setting folder to make sure the apps installed are ones you put there.

  6. Your phone overheats when it never used to. Your phone may be working overtime to keep up with the apps working in the background.

  7. You receive strange text messages from people and businesses you don't recognize. Someone may be trying to find out where you are or take over control of your phone. Power it down until you can get to your provider.

  8. Very slow performance could be a sign that spyware is operating in the background, or you've run out of memory. If this happens suddenly, check your app listing.

  9. Random Reboots. If your phone reboots itself without you asking it to, a remote user or some sort of spyware could be to blame.


Sources: Forensiq, ALM Property Casualty 360, Fraudlogix



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