Technology is now so advanced that we shouldn't have to worry about being hacked or scammed, right? Unfortunately not. While many mobile phone brands' security measures are complex, it's impossible to be fully protected from these threats. So how are you to know? Recyclezone explore the signs that your phone has been hacked, and what to do if it has.
What are the signs your phone has been hacked?
1. Your phone becomes slower
Many things can slow down your phone. Have you had the same phone for many years? Has your phone recently updated? Do you overly exert your phone or store too many files and apps on it? A slower phone could indicate it's time to recycle it and upgrade, but if none of the above are causing this, then it could be the work of a hacker.
A hacked phone will run malware in the background of your day-to-day applications, impacting your phone's speed and performance levels. It can also interfere with things like the device's connection to WIFI or the internet. So, while a phone cannot be super speedy all of its life, a sudden and significant slow should raise some flags.
2. Your data usage has spiked
When we buy a phone or sign up to a contract, we'll decide on a set limit of data usage which most will stick to. If you therefore see a shoot in data usage, or more frequent warnings of exceeding your limit, this could show your phone has been hacked. The reason for this happening could be that your phone is transmitting some of its data to another phone.
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3. There has been unauthorised access to your iCloud or Google account
If your files automatically back up to your account in The Cloud, that is a lot of potentially personal information that could be obtained from a hacker. Usually these services are pretty vigilant and will inform of any attempted scams, but because of this people become complacent. Anytime you are notified of unusual activity, check your account, and if you're worried then change your password and contact the appropriate helpline. You should also take measures to ensure your data is safe at all times, anyway.
4. Your battery is draining quicker
This is a classic sign of something in the background that shouldn't be happening. If your mobile has been hacked, chances are the hacker will have added apps or tracking/monitoring devices to run at all times in the background. And constantly running background apps are notorious for draining battery. If this is the case, check to see if anything strange seems to be going on, including investigating apps you don't remember installing. How well you can do this will depend on the phone you have, though, as some operating systems, Samsung for instance, do not allow you to uninstall certain apps.
5. You fell for a phishing scam
Hackers are deceptively realistic these days - and their mobile phone scams are becoming more and more intelligently designed. They can manifest in many ways, from genuine looking emails from amazon customer services to a text claiming to be from your bank or mobile provider, which usually contains links that scrape sensitive information or download malicious apps. So, if you ever followed a link from an SMS and something doesn't seem right, contact your mobile phone company/the company the SMS imitated.
6. You start to see more pop-ups
Pop-ups can be annoying, but they are usually nothing more than over the top advertising. However, if you start to see more ads than usual appearing, some of which you can't close, it may be a sign of malware infiltration. It's important not to click on any of them either, as it could be a gateway to a more serious risk of viruses.
7. Your emails aren't working properly
If a hacker gets into your phone, they can refigure so many inner workings. For instance, they can change your emails so that when you send one, it is relayed via an unauthorised server. This means you run the risk of every email sent being read by someone else. So, if your emails are suddenly being blocked by spam filters, this could be why.
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What to do if your phone has been hacked
As scary as it may be, there are some things you can to do try to combat the unfortunate situation you have found yourself in:
- Factory reset your phone - this may wipe out any malicious software or viruses.
- Uninstall recently installed apps - possibly reducing the risk of bad apps, it could also help you generally clear out your phone of unnecessary apps too.
- Reset passwords - to avoid your accounts being hacked again.
- Contact your mobile phone provider - they may be able to assist you further if none of the above have worked.
- Contact the police/authorities - if the scam has involved your personal details, the police or other authorities may be able to help.
While we hope that one of the above methods are successful, sometimes nothing can be done. In this case, it may be beneficial to sell your phone. Fortunately, you may be able to get a good price for it with a company that recycles your phones for cash!