In today’s world, our smart phones have become our security blankets. Ever get that panicked feeling when you leave the house without your phone or even worse, misplace it? We keep our most personal and private information on our smart phones from pictures, credit card details, passwords and more.
This one-stop-shop for all your personal information can be an attacker’s dream. In a domestic violence situation, stakes are even higher, as abusers can use this information to stalk, harass and frighten their victims.
So how do you know if someone is prying into your life by listening in on your calls, reading your text messages and perusing your pictures? An abuser can spy on you and remain undetected if you don’t know what signs to look for.
Fortunately, it’s possible to detect multiple signs that your smart phone may have been hacked. If you suspect someone has hacked your phone, any of the following signs may tell you it’s time to take precautionary measures.
1. New apps installed without your knowledge or permission
If you find a new app has been installed on your phone and you didn’t install it or are unaware of where it came from, do a Google search to find out what it is and what others are saying about it. Most often you won’t be alone. Others online will provide their own experience with the app and what it does.
2. Apps that used to work are suddenly stopping or shutting down
If an app starts shutting down on its own it could be just bad programming, but it also could be a sign of a malware infection.
3. Phone feels hotter or warmer than usual
This can happen when unknown apps run in the background while you’re not using your phone. Review running applications, check for unknown apps installed and review your battery usage.
4. Phone reboots on its own or behaves strangely
There are many reasons why a phone would reboot on its own, but it is always good to review apps installed, apps running at startup, apps running in the background and battery usage to determine if any reboots were normal or if your phone was hacked. If you are noticing strange behavior, such as your flashlight turning on, or anything out of the ordinary it’s wise to take precautionary measures (we’re getting there, keep reading).
5. Your phone is sending and receiving text messages or making calls that you didn’t send or get notifications of
Hackers frequently install malware that causes your phone to make calls. These calls can be expensive, and the hackers will make money off the calls. If you notice calls being made without your knowledge, your phone has likely been hacked. Just as the hackers will take advantage of your phone to make phone calls, they will also do it with text messages.
6. Increased use of mobile data
The excessive data use is a little hard for the average user to determine. Data monitoring apps can help track this. The excessive data usage could cost you money. Reviewing your data usage settings and look for anything out of the ordinary. Install anti-malware software and run a scan to remove the threats.
Knowing the signs of a phone hack is only half the battle. Once you’ve determined your phone has been compromised, there are steps you can and should take to stop the threat and prevent it from happening again.
Next week’s post will provide a step-by-step guide for stopping any threats to your phone and protecting yourself from cyber harassment.
Note: We paired up with Orange County-based cybersecurity consulting firm, Tevora, to create a series of cyber safety guidelines. Unfortunately, many victims of domestic violence experience cyber stalking. This series is intended to serve as a resource for anyone who may find themselves in the position of being harassed, bullied or stalked online.