The advent of technology has proved to be a blessing for us. It has made it possible to contact our relatives living on the other end of the world within a second. Having smartphones in our hands makes our lives possible by connecting us to the world, but it comes with some disadvantages. These devices may be smart and come packed with security features; still, hackers can steal all of the data in the blink of an eye.
It is risky as all our private data, from photos to bank information, are in our cell phones or other smart devices. Not only do we depend on these devices, but they also control us in some or another way. However, the scariest thing is that most people don’t know how to secure themselves and their data online. Additionally, many are still unaware of what to do if their security is compromised. A study by Varonis shows that around 56% of Americans don’t know what to do after a data breach.
If you also don’t know how to find out who hacked your cell phone and how to unhack your phone, this guide will take you through everything you need to know and do.
How to Find Out Who Hacked Your Cell Phone?
Usually, the hacker may upload malicious software or a file to hack into the target’s phone. This software works in the background of your phone, and monitors every activity, and copies each information. Due to this, we are writing about how to find out who hacked your phone. The hacked target device may show some signs mentioned below.
1. Unknown call or text made by the user
The victim may also notice some unknown calls or texts sent from his device to the unknown number. It may indicate that the malware or the hacking software uploaded in the victim’s phone is trying to contact the hacker. Another scenario can be that the victim may notice some unrecognized messages, call logs, or emails sent from his device to all the contacts on the list. In this case, the hacker may be trying to use the victim’s phone to get hold of or hack into other devices.
2. Use the USSD code to check if phone is hacked
The hacker can direct the victim’s call on his number to access calls, messages, and other data. The user can use the USSD code to check if phone is tapped and take measures to prevent mobile hacking. It is another way to know how to tell if your phone is hacked.
Number to dial to see if your phone is tapped:
- *#62# Redirection Code – It helps the victim check if someone has forwarded his messages, calls, and other data without his knowledge.
- *#21# Diversion Code – It works the same as the above code, but it notifies the victim about the forwarded calls, messages, and data, which is relatively harder to detect.
*#*#197328640#*#* Utility Netmonitor Code – It carries information regarding everything that our phone sends or receives along with the location. When a user dials this code, it will open the main menu.
- Here, tap on UMTS Cell Environment, then UMTS RR Information, and note down the cell ID number.
- Return to the main menu and tap on MM Information, then Serving PLMN, and note down the local area code visible on the screen.
- Open any net monitor website/app and enter both cell ID and area code to determine if your cell phone has an unknown connection.
3. Too many spammy pop-ups
Though the pop-ups don’t necessarily mean that the victim’s phone is compromised, an increased number of pop-ups may point out that the victim’s phone is hacked. It can also signal that the device is infected with Adware (a form of malware), and forcing it to view some specific sites that draw revenue.
4. Presence of unknown application
As discussed, the hacker may install spy apps on the victim’s phone to monitor his every activity. These apps run in the background and don’t have any visible icon like others. But a user can still check the number of apps running on his device even if it is hidden. The victim can recognize whether any unknown app is spying or monitoring his device by looking at its active hours, battery, memory, and data usage. Our mobile usually has many hidden system apps that we don’t know anything about. But these apps typically don’t occupy much space nor use a lot of the device’s battery or data. Still, a user must check everything and consult an expert before deleting or uninstalling any hidden app from the device.
5. Frequent app crashes
The frequent app crashes are another sign that a hacker has got access to the victim’s phone. In some cases, the security features like the antivirus app won’t open. It happens especially when malware or a virus has taken hold of the victim’s device and disabled all its functionality.
6. Unusual activity on your account
From bank to g-mail or iPhone Cloud, we use these online accounts to keep our data safe and convenient to use. But the information or files saved here are critical data that anyone can misuse against us. If someone tries to hack into these accounts, the user will get notified through emails or messages related to password reset, sign up from an unknown device, log in from a new account, etc.
7. Spike in data usage
It is another issue faced by the victim when his phone is hacked. There can be many reasons for the large consumption of data. But if there isn’t any, then a hacker may have uploaded a malicious app to your device. A hacked device usually uses this data to transfer information or upload files/folders on the hacker’s phone. Several applications and software are available on the internet to monitor the amount of data sent out of the victim’s device.
8. Lost signals from the cellphone
A victim finds a message or email from his mobile carrier about an unknown account change. After around 30 minutes, his mobile device loses signals. It is an example of identity theft. It is a form of cybercrime prevailing among all mobile devices (Android or iPhone) and mobile carriers. The victim’s mobile loses signal because the hacker has ported the account on his cellphone. It is one of the scariest kinds of hacking where the victim and people related to them can become prey.
9. Phone battery drains fast
When a phone is hacked, the victim’s mobile is already performing many activities in the background like copying every new data, transfer of data, monitoring every keystroke, etc. These activities run in the background so that the victim won’t have any knowledge about them. But it affects the battery life of the device drastically. No matter how many times a victim may charge his device or reduce the usage of the device, he will still find himself plugging his phone into a charging cable.
10. Phone becomes super-hot
Some smartphones may also become excessively hot when hacked. Most users question themselves, why is my phone hot. Unknown activities run in the background without the victim’s knowledge. Cellphones can get hot due to other reasons like playing games, excessive usage, or exposure to heat sources. But if the cellphone gets hot while kept idle for hours, it may point that the device is hacked.
11. Overall poor phone performance
The overall performance of a device may become poor if it is hacked. The victim may experience that his cellphone is taking too long to do trivial activities like loading pages, opening files, making calls, checking voicemails, etc. If the victim sees any of this, he can try shutting down his device. A hacked device either won’t shut down or shut incorrectly even if the user is forcing it.
How to Unhack Your Phone?
Most of you may want to know if my phone was hacked how do I fix it, instead of finding the answer for how to trace a phone hacker.
The answers will remain the same if your question is how to remove a hacker from my phone?
Once you know how to find out who hacked your phone, you must know what to do if your phone has been hacked.
1. Run anti-malware software
An anti-malware or anti-virus software is necessary to keep one’s data and files securely. This application will monitor all the victim’s device activities and notify if it finds anything suspicious or a malicious file. It will also remove and block unwanted connections and make the device safe to use.
2. Change your passwords
If the victim gets any message or mail about any unrecognized activity on his online account, he must block it instantly and change all the passwords. Changing these pins every few months will also keep hackers away from your account.
3. Delete any apps or messages that may be malicious
A lot of things are present on the internet, but not all of them are secure. Downloading any unknown file or app, especially from an unknown source, can introduce malware to your device. The user must uninstall any app that he has downloaded from a third-party source (instead of Google Play Store or Apple Store). The user can also look at the apps list on his device and remove any unrecognized application.
4. Update the OS and applications
The smartphone operating system or apps becoming sluggish or getting crashed frequently is a sign that the phone is hacked. To overcome this, the victim must update the application, which he is finding hard to access. Alternatively, the user can reinstall the application on the device after clearing all its data. The phone manufacturers keep sending updated security patches; don’t forget to install them. Similarly, app developers regularly release the latest version of the applications to fix the bugs that may give access to hackers. Thus, it is required to update your apps to the latest version.
5. Disable call diversion and redirection
Don’t worry, what to do if your phone is tapped. As discussed prior, a few USSD codes will help you identify if someone else is receiving your call or messages. You can use USSD code *#06# to identify the IMEI number of your device and note it down somewhere. It is needed especially when you want to fill a complaint against a phone lost or hacked.
Another USSD code ##002# will help you erase all redirection or diversion commands and prevent mobile hacking.
6. Tell contacts to ignore spam messages
When the phone is hacked, a victim must inform his contacts to avoid any spam message or mail from his account. It will reduce further damage that the hacker can do.
7. Do a factory reset
If, after removing any malware app, the victim is still not convinced that his device is safe to use again, resetting the phone is the ultimate way to do it! Resetting a device will remove everything from every photo, file, to notes and apps. So, the user must keep a backup of all the data before doing so.
How to Block Hackers from My Phone?
There are many ways your phone can be hacked. But not many people know how to stay safe online. Read the guide given below carefully to stay safe and prevent hackers.
- Turn off hotspot and Bluetooth when in public if you aren’t using it.
- Don’t use public Wi-Fi without a VPN. It is the most un-secure way of using the internet because the other person using the same network can view your activities online. You must, especially avoid making any only transactions using public Wi-Fi.
- Keep your phone and apps updated. The manufacturers keep making small changes and fixing bugs so that the user can safely use any platform.
- Don’t leave your phone unattended, especially when you are in any public place like a library or restaurant. Also, avoid giving your phone to use by any randomly unknown person.
- Lock phone with strong passwords and pins. Avoid using any common password that anyone can guess. Keep it random and use both alphabets and numbers.
- Enable multi-factor authentication on online accounts. These provide extra security to your account and notify you if someone tries to break into your account.
- Never download any app or file from an unauthorized or third-party source. These apps can often contain malware and infect your device.
- Never click on an unknown message or link, as it can also carry malware. Double-check it even if it comes from a family or a friend.
- Review the apps on your phone regularly and look for any unknown activity or software that you don’t remember downloading.
- Regularly review the security features of your online account. It will provide extra security to them.
- Install anti-malware software in your device to keep your device secure. It will block all the suspicious activities on your phone.
- Avoid visiting any un-secure website. It can also become a source of malware.
- Never share your pins, passwords, especially OTP, with anyone. You never know who is trying to hack your device.
As we progress into a new technological age, we must be aware of all the disadvantages it can bring by the people misusing it. It’s scary to think that most people now know how to use different online platforms but don’t know how to keep themselves safe. If you are one of them, it’s time to keep your security features updated as you keep up with technology.