Nine ways to tell if your phone has been hacked from battery life to pop-up ad

The more technology develops, the more criminals develop new ways to illegally access our phones and computers.

Victims of cyber crime can be anyone from the CEO of a major global corporation or a political candidate whose computer might be targeted to obtain potentially scandalous, campaign-ending photos and videos.

Regular people can also become victims to hackers who break into their digital records to steal things like bank details or personal data, whereby victims could be blackmailed, bullied, spied on or have their identities hijacked.

Whatever the reason is for the hack, everyone is susceptible to being a victim, and smartphones are particularly vulnerable to such attacks. If your phone is experiencing any of the following, your phone may have been hacked.

Battery life varies from phone to phone, but older ones tend to run out more quickly. How long your battery lasts throughout the day also depends on your personal phone usage. If you’re constantly on your phone or run several apps at once, your battery is likely to drain faster than if you only used your phone to check the odd message every so often.

But if your battery life significantly decreases without any explanation, even when you’re hardly using your phone, it is a sign that your phone’s security has been compromised. There’s a chance that the reason why your battery is running out so quickly is because of malware running in the background that is being used to track your activities and access your data.

As with any electronic device, it’s quite normal for your phone to warm up if it is being used excessively. This is because your phone is having to work extra hard to carry out the tasks at hand, such as uploading or downloading large files.

But if you find that your phone is hot to the touch even when you haven’t been using it, or that it heats up rather quickly even when using it to complete simple tasks such as opening an app or sending a text message, it could mean that a hacker has taken control of your phone and is using it to run other operations without your knowledge.

With WiFi available almost everywhere we go, we aren’t as reliant on our own phone’s data when connecting to the internet as we were before. Unless you are using your data to download large files, play games and watch videos, your monthly data usage shouldn’t be very high.

But if your data usage is high even when you aren’t doing these things, there’s a chance that malware that has been installed in your device is using your data to send information back to its server. You may notice this is happening when you get a hefty bill for going over your monthly data allowance.

You may notice that your phone has significantly slowed down and that apps are crashing more often. Maybe your phone randomly switches off, or the light from your screen has started flickering or changing in tone.

It could just mean you need to update your phone or have it repaired, but it is also a sign that your phone is being overloaded by malware operating in the background of your phone, thus affecting its performance.

Typically, your phone’s screen shouldn’t switch on by itself unless you have given certain apps permission to do this. If you’ve left your phone on the table with the screen locked and then you suddenly notice it turning on, you should double check your app permissions as otherwise this could indicate some kind of fault in your phone.

But this could also happen as a result of a hacker accessing your phone from an external source. You should especially be worried if your phone starts opening apps, making sounds or randomly rebooting by itself.

When you shut your phone down, it usually takes a few seconds to allow the phone to safely complete any tasks it might be processing. If it takes longer to shut down than usual, or worse yet doesn’t shut down at all, the chances are your phone is experiencing some kind of software or processing problem.

Malware that has been installed in your phone and is transmitting data to a third party would also have to complete before your phone can shut down. Therefore, your phone taking longer to shut down could be a result of unwelcome processes running in the background feeding information to hackers.

Phones have a way of getting unlocked in our pockets and accidentally sending gibberish messages to people on our contacts lists, or making phone calls to them. This is known by many as ‘butt dialling’.

But if you find that messages or calls have been made from your phone to your contacts, it could be because your phone has been hacked. You should especially be concerned if the messages appear to impersonate you and ask your contacts for personal details, or if your phone is being used to send them suspicious links, as that would indicate that you are the victim of identity theft.

You might be browsing your phone one day and come across an app icon you don’t recognise. You may have downloaded the app a long time ago and forgotten about it, or it may have come as part and parcel of your phone. It’s always good to regularly double check the apps on your phone and the permissions you grant them, and to delete anything you don’t use.

If you spot an unknown app that you have no explanation for, it could be a trojan app that has been installed on your phone by a third party. Hackers use trojan apps to access things like your camera, your microphone, your browser history, your saved files and even your location. It’s best to be on top of your apps and avoid downloading any apps that look suspicious.

The internet is full of ads, and even though we all find them rather annoying, most of us have resigned to the fact that they just come with the territory of being online. Thanks to the permissions we give apps and data we willingly share with digital marketers, most of the advertising we come across is targeted to us as individuals and is based upon things we personally engage with.

However, if you’re seeing ads appear on your phone even before you’ve opened an app or entered a website, it’s likely that your phone has been infected with adware, a type of malware that forces devices to view certain pages that drive revenue through clicks, or even phishing links that attempt to trick users into sharing their bank details with scammers or download more malware.

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