Thanks to modern technology, we’re able to carry our lives with us wherever we go. Conversations with loved ones, emails for work, banking information, our favorite music, and special photos are all stored in our smartphones.
According to the Pew Research Center, 81% of American adults own a smartphone today, meaning that the vast majority of Americans carry confidential information with them on a daily basis.
While this is great for convenience, it also exposes the population to potential cyberthreats. The more that we rely on our cellphones, living out our professional and personal lives online, the more we risk if cybercrime were to happen. Connecting to public Wi-Fi networks is common nowadays, especially on smartphones.
But using an unsecured connection can mean being hacked, watched, and stolen from, and sometimes you won’t even realize it’s happening.
Here’s how to protect your information, and how to tell if your security has already been breached.
Prevent Cyberattacks on Your Phone
The best defense against being hacked is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Yes, you need to protect against threats on your Android device, but Apple products are susceptible, too. Despite rumors in the tech community, neither operating system is immune to malicious activity. Below are some ways that you can protect your phone and its contents:
- Never open links from unknown senders via text message, email, or other social media
- Stick to well-known, trusted apps with reviews (in order to avoid fake malware apps)
- Install software updates as soon as they become available
- Avoid public, unsecure Wi-Fi connections whenever possible
- Lock your phone when it’s not in use, securing it with a passcode
- Set up the “find my device” feature on your phone in case you lose it
How to Tell If You’ve Been Hacked
If you think your smartphone might have already been compromised, it’s important to identify the problem as soon as possible. Consider these warning signs to see if your phone could have been hacked.
- There’s a sudden decrease in battery life
- You are seeing outgoing texts or calls that did not come from you
- The phone is performing slower than usual, and the software is repeatedly crashing
- You notice strange behavior and app downloads you don’t recognize
- When surfing the web, you start to see a lot of pop-ups
- Your data usage has mysteriously spiked
These are all clues that someone is spying on your phone without you knowing or trying to disturb your operating system. An intruder could spam your contacts with phishing attacks or rack up pricey long-distance charges. They could also access saved passwords on your phone, exposing sensitive information like financial details.
There are a number of things you can do if you notice these changes, such as changing passwords, running anti-malware software, and informing your contacts of the security breach. But the best way around cybercrime is to take steps to protect your information, especially while in public.
Preventing threats is your number one defense, but if you think you might be past that point, consider the above factors to evaluate whether your phone has already been hacked.