How to know when your phone is hacked

Your smartphone or tablet seems slower than before

Malware running in the background can impact the performance of legitimate apps on a device, and malware transmissions can slow down a device’s network connection. It is important to realize, however, that updates to a device’s operating system can sometimes also cause a device to suffer from decreased performance, so don’t panic if you just updated your operating system and performance now seems degraded. Likewise, if you fill up the memory on your device or install many processor and bandwidth intensive apps, performance can also drop.

Your device is sending or receiving strange text messages

If your friends or colleagues report receiving messages that you didn’t send, something may be amiss (this is true for emails as well). Likewise, if you see strange text messages coming in, they may be related to a breach.


Your device’s battery drains more quickly than before

Extra code running in the background (for example, malware that is constantly monitoring and capturing user activity and relaying it to third parties) uses battery power.

Your device is hotter than before

For the same reason, it may also run physically “hotter” than before.

Websites appear somewhat different than before

If someone has installed malware that is “proxying” on your device–that is, sitting between your browser and the internet and relaying the communications between them (while reading all of the contents of the communications and, perhaps, inserting various instructions of its own)–it might affect how some sites display.

Some apps stop working properly

If apps that used to work properly suddenly stop working, that may also be a sign of proxying or other malware interfering with the apps’ functionality.


Your cell-phone bill shows unexpected charges

Criminals can exploit an infected device to make expensive overseas phone calls on behalf of a remote party proxying through your device, can send SMS messages to international numbers, or ring up charges in other ways.

“Pop-ups” appear on your device–and they never appeared before

Just like on computers, some mobile-device malware produces pop-up windows asking the user to perform various actions. If you are seeing pop-ups, beware.

Your email from the device is getting blocked by spam filters

If email sent from your device is suddenly getting blocked by spam filters it could be a sign that your email configuration has been changed and email is now being relayed via some unauthorized server that is allowing a nefarious party to read your messages.

Your device is attempting to access “bad” sites

If you use your device on a network that blocks access to known problematic sites and networks (many businesses have such technology on both their corporate and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) networks) and you find out that it was trying to access such sites without your knowledge, your device may be infected.

You are experiencing unusual service disruptions

If you experience calls being dropped, the inability to make calls at times when you appear to have good signal strength, or strange noises occurring during your phone conversations, something may be amiss. Normally, these problems are indicative of technical issues unrelated to a breach, but that is not always the case. So, if you noticed these symptoms shortly after you took some action that you now regret, you may wish to consider whether you need to take corrective action.


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