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signs your phone is hacked
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Smartphones & gadgets

How to know if hackers are in your phone

The iPhone has a reputation for being secure. Apple has a closed operating system (as opposed to Android’s open-source) and more closely monitors and vets apps in the App Store. And with just one phone model, the iPhone, Apple can more easily push out updates and pressure its users to download them.

This doesn’t mean that your iPhone is immune to attack. Hackers are always coming up with new ways to get into any device, and your iPhone is a prime target for malware, spyware, ransomware, viruses and more. Tap or click here for iPhone and Android security features to switch on.

Whether you use iOS or Android, it’s not easy to tell if your phone has been compromised. Hackers can target your devices in many ways, and you may not get an alert or even know that something malicious is happening in the background. Read on for tips on diagnosing a hacked phone.

Be careful where you place your trust

It’s not just hackers you need to worry about. Some apps share your information with third parties for advertising purposes and to build a profile on you. While they’re not out to hack your accounts, this is an invasion of privacy.

Then there’s stalkerware, designed to track you using GPS, call logs, messages, images, browser history and more. This can be hidden behind another app that seems harmless. Stalkerware can come from someone very close to you, such as a spouse or jealous ex.

Harmful downloads and malicious links can infect your phone without your knowledge. Something as innocuous as a PDF file can carry poisonous data. Be careful where you tap.

Bad apps, like bad apples, exist everywhere. They can imitate well-known apps or try their luck to trick you into downloading and running them. Once you do so, your phone is infected with malware.

You can minimize risk by only downloading apps from official app stores and checking official sources to make sure you’re downloading the real app and not an imposter.

RELATED: How to know if you’re being stalked with an Apple AirTag

Malicious intent

Don’t forget about threat actors. Hackers can target your SIM card, the tiny chip in your phone associated with your mobile account. This is known as SIM swapping, and the scam entails convincing your mobile carrier that the scammer is you.

They can say the phone or SIM card was lost or destroyed. They answer a few security questions and get your phone number reassigned to their SIM. Then they can access your accounts.

Hackers can also intercept your MAC address through Bluetooth and remotely infect your phone. There are more ways for strangers to access your phone, and these are just some to watch for.

Look for the signs

How do you know that your phone has been hacked? If it’s running slow, it could be due to malware eating up your phone’s resources. This can also cause your phone to heat up and drain the battery faster than usual.

Watch for spikes in data usage that could signal adware and the like, which run in the background. This will also reveal itself in the form of slow internet. Malware can redirect your traffic to unsafe servers or simply hog your bandwidth and steal more information from you or target others.

If you notice activity you had nothing to do with, like sending emails and messages and social network posts, your phone and accounts have been hacked. Check your streaming history and credit card purchases for unfamiliar activity as well.

Spammy pop-ups are a good indicator that your phone has been hacked. Check for changes to your home screen and unfamiliar bookmarks.

How to protect your phone from hackers

When it comes to keeping hackers out of your phone, just a little bit of effort can make a huge difference:

  • Safeguard your information — Never give out personal data if you don’t know the sender of a text, chat or email or can’t verify their identity.
  • Always use 2FA — Use two-factor authentication for better security whenever available. Tap or click here for details on 2FA.
  • Be wary of links and attachments — Don’t click on links or attachments you receive in unsolicited emails or messages. They could be malicious, infect your device with malware and steal sensitive information.
  • Use strong, unique passwords — Don’t use personal information in your passwords and never use the same one twice. Tap or click here for 10 essential password rules.
  • Beware of phishing emails — Scammers piggyback on data breaches by sending malicious emails to trick you into clicking links that supposedly have important information. Look out for strange URLs, return addresses and spelling or grammar errors.
  • Antivirus is vital — Always have a trusted antivirus program updated and running on all your devices. We recommend our sponsor, TotalAV. Right now, get an annual plan with TotalAV for only $19 at That’s over 85% off the regular price!

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