For most of us, our smartphones are the center of our daily lives, and as a result, they contain a treasure of personal information, from banking details to messaging and email accounts. This sensitive data can be pretty enticing to a range of the nefarious, from cybercriminals to someone you may even know.
Phone hacking can involve the unknowing download of spyware that relays information on your activity such as logging keystrokes to scrape passwords; spy apps downloaded by someone with access to your device; or other malware that exploits your phone.
The most common way that smartphones can be hacked is to infect the device with malware. This malware can arrive on the device buried inside apps downloaded by the user and the likelihood of a malicious app rises when downloading away from the official app stores, which police their content.
While iPhones aren’t immune to hacking, Apple’s strict vetting policy means the incidence of bad apps targeting iPhones (at least non-jailbroken ones) is lower than for Android phones. Android devices are more susceptible to these kinds of attacks because they have the option to install applications from third parties.
One of the best ways to see if your smartphone is hacked is by ensuring if there are any apps you don’t remember downloading, look them up online to see if any of them have been reviewed negatively for malware or other suspicious activity. In this case, the apps will have been compromised by a hacker who likely isn’t targeting you personally but is distributing malware with the aim of scraping as much data as possible. The BankBot malware, for instance, was a trojan that infected hundreds of Android apps to display a phishing screen to steal users’ banking credentials.