As the world remains in lockdown during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, and countless jobs around the world hang in the balance – there is one industry that’s alive and well – HACKING. Finding out if your phone has been hacked can be tricky. We give you the low-down on what to look out for.
Cybercriminals are constantly evolving in their tactics. First, they came for your computer. And now that your computer fits in your pocket - it’s called a smartphone - chances are it’s only a matter of time before it gets hacked. But how exactly DO you know if your smartphone has been hacked?
We give you the low-down here on the most common tell-tale signs your phone is doing something fishy behind your back.
The phone unexpectedly enters Slowville
Maybe you’ve noticed a drop in overall performance on your mobile device. apps take ages to load. And sometimes, the phone shuts down for no reason whatsoever.
Don’t panic and call the Hacker Police yet (we think it’s a crime there’s no such thing as Hacker Police – but that’s a topic for another day). It could be that you’re simply running too many apps on your phone. If the memory on your device is running at full capacity, or you’ve stocked up on several processor and bandwidth intensive apps, it’s only natural that things turn sluggish on your phone.
If this is NOT the case, and your smartphone is relatively clutter-free, a slowdown could be sign it’s been infected by malware. Malware can impact the speed and loading times of apps. And their transmissions can also clog up your device’s bandwidth. This means when you want to surf the Internet on your phone or use apps that connect to the Internet, your overall connection speeds and app performance can degrade. Keep an eye on that speed.
You crash through your data limit faster than you can say “YouTube videos”
Remember all those malware transmissions?
They don’t just slow down your connections and apps.
They consume your precious data plan as well. If you notice abnormalities in your phone’s data usage – stuff that YouTube, Spotify and Netflix simply cannot account for – then there’s a strong possibility you’ve got malware on your device.
Keeping an eye on your data is especially important during the Covid-19 pandemic, as more and more governments worldwide begin to roll-out ‘tracing apps”, designed to track the locations where the smartphones of those infected have been used, in order to prevent the spread of infection in those places.
New apps appear on your device (without you installing them)
If new apps appear mysteriously on your device, you could have an existing malicious app that’s insidiously installing them behind your back.
It’s a real problem that’s hard to detect simply because hackers know how we use smartphones so well. We install an app, play around with it, then keep it on our phones “just in case”, then promptly forget it ever existed.
That’s when a malicious app strikes – when you move on to the next shiny app – giving it free rein to run amok on your phone. If you ever do notice a new app you’ve never installed yourself, it’s only because something looks out of place on your home screen (where did that extra icon come from?).
Do yourself a favour and Google the unknown apps just to see if they are legit.
Your screen is a forest of pop-ups
Pop-up ads are one of the most annoying things about browsing the Internet on your desktop. But on a phone with screen-size just a fraction of your monitor’s, they take on a whole new level of annoying.
Some mobile malware can create fake pop-up windows that impersonate your antivirus (Your phone is infected!), then wheedle you into tapping through to “clean” your phone – when in reality, it’s doing something more nefarious like stealing your passwords and gobbling up other juicy bits of confidential information.
If you start to get pop-ups from a website you regularly visit (and it doesn’t normally generate them), beware. Your phone has likely been infected.
Your phone is trying to connect to dodgy sites behind your back
Using your phone to willfully access untrustworthy sites and download your next Netflix binge is one thing. You initiated the action, and while you’re still browsing, you’re pretty much in control of things.
Unfortunately the story doesn’t end there.
Some of these sites are designed so that if you clicked on a perfectly harmless-looking link or button by mistake, your phone will try to connect to the website even after you’ve stopped using your device!
It could even be trying to connect to a forbidden site RIGHT NOW, while you’re reading this article – on your phone.
The only way to know for sure what your phone’s up to behind your back is by using device protection that immediately alerts you when your device is doing something that it shouldn’t. Luckily D-Link’s Wi-Fi 6 EXO Series has just that!
Your friends receive strange text messages you didn’t send
Sometimes we send an old-flame a stream of pathetically awkward messages (then outright deny sending them).
This isn’t one of those times.
Malware can use your phone to spam your entire contact list with text messages. Next thing you know, your concerned Mum is on the phone demanding to know why you’ve switched to a career in telemarketing.
If your contacts get hit by a bunch of spammy text messages, there’s a good chance your phone has been hit by malware.
What to do AFTER you’ve been hacked
Once you know for sure your smart phone has been infected by malware, it is essential that you install a comprehensive anti-malware system on your device. Don’t forget to do a thorough cleaning and remove any suspicious app that made it onto your phone.
A good rule of thumb we like to use is: If you don’t recognise it, delete it.
And for those of you who’d like to go beyond smartphone security, you’ll want to check out how router-level security can protect every one of your connected devices in one swoop.
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Until next time, stay connected and protected.