What to Do If Your Android Device Is Hacked
As soon as we hear the word “hacker”, we instantly think of computers. However, the reality of things is that smartphones are just about as prone to hack attacks as computers are. As a matter of fact, smartphone devices are even more vulnerable than computers; just consider the fact that 2.5 billion people on the planet own a smartphone.
You probably use your smartphone for logging into a variety of websites, so it’s basically a gateway to not only your personal information, but to your online profile, as well.
Even when you realize that your Android smartphone isn’t safe from hackers, you might disregard this risk as trivial. After all, you don’t have compromising images or videos on your phone, what’s a hacker going to do with it? Well, you probably store more sensitive information on your smartphone than you might think. For one, you are probably automatically logged into your social media. A hacker could use this access as an impostor to gain benefit from your contacts.
Additionally, if you’ve ever done some mobile shopping, this login info is likely still on your phone, so you can end up losing money. What’s more, your phone is likely synced to your computer and web browser, which is a gateway to even more personal info. So, how do you prevent this? Well, first, you need to learn how to tell that your phone is hacked or infected with a virus.
How to Detect a Virus/Hacking Attempt
The problematic thing about viruses and hacks is that no two really look alike. In fact, they even have a tendency to change over time, so keeping up is not always easy. However, some key telltale signs are often dead giveaways of a hack/virus. But first, make sure that you avoid popups telling you that you’ve got a virus. This popular viral lure will appear in your browser and notify you that a virus has been detected on your phone. Even an Android system warning may pop up.
Definitely avoid clicking anything but “close tab” in these instances, as they are likely a virus or a hack attempt. Don’t click on anything in your web browser if you see a message like this. Just close the tab and go to a safe browsing environment. If the back button won’t work, hit the home button and make sure that you’ve closed all the tabs and apps that are currently running.
Even though some popups are just popups, it is always smart to close them as soon as they appear, without clicking anywhere inside the browser. Ignoring all popups is always your best bet.
How to Tell if You’re a Victim of a Hack/Virus
Knowing how to detect a virus or a hack attempt on your Android phone is the first step towards stopping this from escalating. Typically, detecting a virus/hack attempt isn’t very difficult. For one, if your phone has suddenly started running extremely slow, you may be a victim of malicious software.
This is mostly because both in the instance of a hack and a virus, the general idea is things happening behind the scenes. These background processes will put stress on your phone’s processor and slow things down.
Another telltale sign is your phone bill. A virus or a hacker won’t stop transmitting information just because you’re away from a Wi-Fi router. This will do quite a number on your monthly data plan, so watch out for any phone bill spikes. To get more insight into this, navigate to Settings, tap Connections, and go to Data Usage. Look for unknown apps that use up a lot of data and uninstall them immediately.
Alternatively, keep an eye out for any strange expenses. A hacker can use your eBay/Amazon/any eCommerce account to order things. If you receive a shipping/tracking notification from an item that you haven’t ordered, log out from the eCommerce website and contact its tech support via another device.
Finally, keep an eye out for unusual battery usage. Keyloggers, hackers, and malware, in general, will cause increased battery spending, so make sure that you go to Settings > Battery > Battery Usage and take note of the spikes in the chart. If there are spikes, keep a lookout for unknown apps that you have on your phone and delete them.
What to Do?
If it’s clear that your Android phone has been hacked or that you are a victim of a virus, start by uninstalling the apps that might have caused the virus to appear, as well as any unwanted and unknown software that might be on your device.
The fact that you’ve deleted these apps, however, doesn’t mean that you’ve taken care of them. Go to the Google Play Store and search for “mobile security” or “antivirus” apps. Make sure that you’ve read the descriptions here thoroughly and take note of user reviews.
Once you’ve installed a mobile security/antivirus app, let it do its thing. If the malware/hacker is still present, there is only one thing left to do: erasing your device (doing a factory reset). To perform a factory reset, make sure that you’ve backed everything up by going to Settings¸ navigating to Backup & Reset, and following the backup instructions. After you’re done backing things up, tap Reset, and finally select Factory Data Reset.
This will delete everything from your phone and is the only surefire way of getting rid of a virus and blocking a hacker.
Dealing with a Virus/Hack
The most important thing with hacks and viruses is that you act fast. Do not prolong dealing with this issue because this may end up damaging your phone, even hurting you, financially or worse. There have been known identity theft and phone account fraud cases that you do not want to be on the receiving end of. Make sure that you don’t just blatantly click away in your browser and be wary of strange links and popups.
Has your phone ever been infected? Have you ever been hacked? Feel free to discuss in the comments section below.