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How to tell if your smartphone has been hacked

How to tell if your smartphone has been hacked

Smartphones are now the digital portals to our entire lives. We use them daily to store our personal details, keep us in touch with friends and co-workers, provide access to our financial accounts, and even secure our homes.

Due to this larger role, cybercriminals are targeting smartphones more than ever and mobile security threats are increasing.

Since malware is designed to be nearly invisible to the user, are there other tell-tale signs that your iPhone or Android phone may be infected?

Here are our top five symptoms to look for:

1. Weird text messages

Be leery of text messages with links or weird characters, they could be malware traps waiting to be clicked on. Text messages are common attack vectors for compromising mobile devices so watch out. If your device keeps receiving text messages with strange characters then it might already be infected. Additionally, look out for fraudulent Premium SMS/text messages from unknown numbers.

2. Unauthorized charges on your phone bill

Check your monthly bill. Do you see any iTunes or Google Play app purchases you or members of your family didn't make? If this is the case, your phone may have been compromised. Also, check your bill for other items like Premium SMS/text message charges. If there are a number of items that shouldn't be in there, try asking your service provider what those charges are for.

3. Inexplicably high data usage

Unusual charges could also include data overage charges. A variety of malware constantly transmits data over Wi-Fi or cellular connection without your knowledge. That's bad news if you have a low mobile data cap on your carrier bills if you exceed it. Try monitoring your data usage and limit your phone's internet access once you hit a certain threshold. Also, try minimizing your data usage for a day and check your stats. If you find out that your gadget is still eating through your data cap even after the data fasting, then that's a big red flag.

4. Poor battery life and overheating

If your phone is suddenly going through a full battery charge at a faster rate, then something beyond your control is running in the background. Another symptom to look for is heat. A phone that's constantly running warm even when idle suggests that malware could be doing what it's supposed to do, hide and communicate with its masters. Hidden malware activities like false ad clicks, data theft, spying and tracking software will always contribute to your phone's battery consumption and heat generation.

5. Sluggish performance

Just like any piece of software, malware will also eat up your phone's resources when active. If your phone starts struggling to do the most basic tasks and lags or freezes even without any open apps you know of, then hidden malicious software may be churning along quietly, using your phone's memory and processor resources.

If this happens when you are on an iPhone, try a soft reset by holding the power and the home button until it reboots with the Apple logo. On Android, try rebooting as well, or better yet, boot into safe mode to troubleshoot any errant apps. If resetting your device doesn't resolve the high resource usage, then there's a high probability that your phone is infected.

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