How are phones hacked remotely?

Yes, the best way to hack a phone is to have physical access to it and install one of the monitoring apps found on the app stores. But there are other things to be on the lookout if you’re worried that your phone may be hacked without touching it. Your phone might be compromised by other means: 

  • Suspicious emails: just like you shouldn’t open suspicious email links and attachments on a computer, you should not do that on the phone either. 
  • Compromised apps: maybe you downloaded some third-party app that wasn’t vetted by the app-store. Maybe you wanted to save and get a free VPN, 38% of which were found to contain malware (at least on Android). Once again, the infection is happening with your help. 
  • Jailbreaking: mostly an issue with iPhones – if you want to install third-party apps on Apple products, you need to jailbreak them… which opens you to a world of risks. 
  • “No-Jailbreak Apps:” a rare category of Apple monitoring apps that spy on you by accessing your iCloud updates. 

Sure, all of this sounds terrible. But do you need to worry? Well, there are signs to look out for if you suspect your phone to be hacked. 

13 Signs that someone is spying on your phone 

Here are the most common warning signs that your phone is being tracked, tapped, or monitored by spy software:

1. Anomalous data usage

You probably know how much mobile data you use month after month. If you notice any strange spikes in it, it may be a sign of spy apps. If someone is spying on your phone, they’re using the network to send the data collected on you.

2. Unusual activity on linked accounts (Google, Facebook, iCloud)

As we mentioned, one way to have your phone remotely is to just start spying on you via your iCloud account. In fact, multiple apps do just that. However, unusual logins and other activity on platforms like Google and Facebook may also signal a hack. 

3. Weird pop-ups

We’re not talking about the GDPR or “Please disable AdBlock” stuff here. If you’re receiving push notifications of fake virus alerts and such, it may be a sign that your phone is infected by adware, which is an obnoxious form of malware. From being annoying to actually carrying phishing attempts, they’re a threat to your security.

4. Phone is getting slower

If your phone is old or filled to brim with apps, this is a natural thing to happen. But if it’s not, you should get worried. Spy apps use their own share of processing power to track your phone.

5. Random reboots

Your phone should not be rebooting without your say-so or experiencing an obvious critical error. Unexpected reboots – especially if they’re frequent – may be a sign that your phone has been hacked. 

6. Longer or impeded shutdowns 

This one is hard to notice because we hardly ever shut down our phones these days. However, if your phone is taking a long time to shut down – or just doesn’t shut down – it may be due to interference by the spy apps. Try it a few times just to be sure. 

7. Your emails end up blocked

Have your friends or coworkers missed your emails because their firewalls and such flagged them? This may be a sign that malware is operating on your phone and infecting your correspondence.

8. The phone wakes up randomly 

So you left your phone idle, it went into the standby mode and possibly locked the screen. And suddenly, it lights up without incoming calls, messages, push notifications, or anything similar. This may be a sign that someone hacked your smartphone.  

9. Interference outside calls

You know how your phone causes interference with nearby electronics when you’re on a call? Well, it shouldn’t do it when you’re not. In these situations, it may be a sign of a listening app sending information to whoever is stalking you. 

10. Weird noises during calls 

Phone technology has advanced to the point where you shouldn’t hear random sounds and distant voices during your phone conversations. If this keeps happening – and it’s not just background noise from the end of the line – someone may be tapping your call. 

11. Weird texts

Who’s texting these days? In any case, if you receive weird text messages that are weirder than the usual marketing stuff, those may be control messages meant for a spy app on your phone. Those messages usually contain strange symbols, character combos and such. 

12. Unusual battery drainage

Has your battery started draining faster without any particular reason (like installing any new apps)? Well, spy apps need the energy to function just like any other piece of software, and if they’re constantly recording your audio, they need quite a bit more. 

On the off chance that it’s just the battery getting old, try using the battery with another device. 

13. Battery heats up while idle

Unless you have one of those phone models that just shipped with an exploding disaster battery, your phone should not be heating up while idle. While a single occurrence of that may be explained by some app going awry, if you experience this on the regular, something is amiss – and you probably have a spy app on your hands. 

So, if you know or at least have the suspicion that your phone is hacked/filled with malware, you can start trying to get rid of them. 

How to remove spy software on Android 

Checking for apps: 

It is possible that a spy app on your phone is installed with a name that uses names like “spy,” “monitor,” and other such unsubtle stuff. Here’s how you can detect them:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Choose Applications
  3. Find either Manage Applications or Running Services
  4. Check for suspicious apps. 

Don’t know whether the app you found is suspicious or not? Google the name! If it’s really an incompetently-named spy app, just uninstall it. 

An alternative method is to go rooting through file sections and directories to find ones titled something suspicious. Here’s how it’s done: 

  1. Find My Files or equivalent app on your device.
  2. Access internal storage (phone or SD).
  3. Choose Android.
  4. Choose data.
  5. Browse around for folders with suspicious names. 

But what can you do on an iPhone?

How to remove spy software on iPhone

The No-Jailbreak apps like mSpy depend on spying on the stuff you upload on iCloud. The easiest way to fix them is to change your iCloud password. 

Now, for real spying, an iPhone must be jailbroken. And even then, the apps need a third-party installer to work. Check around your phone to see if you have apps like Cydia or Icy on it. If they’re there, your phone is jailbroken. 

You can also see if all the apps installed on your device exist on Apple Store. If any of them don’t, it means that your phone is jailbroken.

How do you fix that? By updating to the latest iOS version via iTunes. 

Codes to check if phone is tapped

Codes to check if phone is tapped

Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) codes  are short codes that allow you to directly access certain network functions – and they can be mighty handy for seeing if something is amiss. Just enter the full code – yes, with the *’s and #’s – and tap the call button. It may not work with all phones or operators. 

*#62* – this checks for redirections. If you see some other phone number, this means your calls may be redirected to it. However, it is smart to check that phone number online – it may turn out to be your service provider’s voicemail functions. 

If it’s not, dial ##002# to reset it. 

*#21# – checks for diversion, which is similar to redirection. 

Resetting To Factory Settings

This is the nuclear option of removing spy apps. It will wipe your phone, which means your settings, apps, contacts, media, and other stuff. Make sure to back up the important stuff before you do a factory reset. 

Factory Reset on Android

  1. Make sure the phone is well-charged or on the cable.
  2. Enter the Settings menu (usually by swiping down on the main screen and then selecting the appropriate button).
  3. Tap System.
  4. Tap Advanced.
  5. Go to Reset Options
  6. Tap Erase all data (factory reset)
  7. Tap Erase all data.
  8. Enter PIN if prompted.
  9. Tap Erase all data
  10. Watch the process happen. 

Factory Reset on iPhone

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Select General
  3. Tap Reset
  4. If you have an iCloud backup, you’ll be asked if you want to update it. It’s a good idea, so tap Back Up Then Erase
  5. if you set a passcode, you’ll be asked to enter it.
  6. Tap the Erase iPhone option in the warning window.
  7. Enter your Apple ID password.
  8. Wait for the phone to reset. 

Factory resets are the most extreme option for removing spy software. But how do you protect yourself from them in the first place?

How to protect your phone from hacking

How to protect your phone from hacking

There are a few tips on what you can do to prevent your phone from being hacked:

  1. Keep it updated: updates to phone OS and various apps happen for a reason – and sometimes, that reason is plugging up a known security gap. 
  2. Don’t go third-party: whether it’s enabling unsupported apps on Android or jailbreaking iPhones, it’s all about making your phone a bit more vulnerable to exploitation. 
  3. Don’t leave your phone unattended: locking your screen and never letting your phone get away from is the safest way to keep your smartphone from being hacked. 
  4. Be careful online: shady websites and suspicious email attachments (or links) are a danger a VPN is crucial from remaining secure while using public WiFi. Also, premium Vto phones as they are to computers.
  5. Use a VPN: PNs have other additional features – like Surfshark VPN’s CleanWeb, which keeps your phone safe from over 1,000,000 known-malicious sites.. 

It may not be a big list, but it will improve the security of your phone in a big way. 

Phone hack prevention: putting it all together 

Can someone spy on your phone without touching it? Yes. Can you tell that your phone is being spied upon? Also yes. Once you know that your security is compromised, you can take measures to secure your phone. One of the steps can be accomplished right now: get Surfshark VPN and secure your smartphone – as well as your other devices, your home, and more!

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