Smartphone hacking – this is the most widespread security issue that android users are facing and the worst part is that they are completely unaware of a possible intrusion. And this is not the case only with Android, other operating systems are at equal if not more risk. Most Android users notice the problems when the damages have already been done by the hackers. Some users have reported cases where a text message preview appeared on the lock screen and then mysteriously disappeared never to be found again.
The availability of countless unverified apps on the online marketplace has increased the threat to the security of android smartphones. Even though the latest gadgets in 2014 are being equipped with tight security measures, hackers will still find some way for infiltrating the mobile device.
But how do you differentiate a hack from genuine smartphone issues? Check out these 6 vital signs that will help you to identify a possible hack.
Your Mobile Phone Statements Reflect Odd Charges
This is a clear sign that your Android Smartphone is compromised, but the major concern at this stage is that the damage has already been done. In order to make such infiltrations, hackers use malware that is opportunistic in nature and often come as wrappers for free applications. When you click on the installer of this free app, you would be asked to register for SMS subscription before the app is made available for download.
You do get the free app, but the malware sends SMS to premium numbers and the bill is borne by you. Such scams are prevalent in China and Eastern Europe, while users in places such as the US are most likely to experience, Trojan attacks based on social engineering rather than succumbing to text subscriptions scams.
So if you start noticing strange and unaccountable charges on your phone’s statement, then call up the service provider ASAP and find out the cause of the charges. This will give you a clear idea of the issue that caused the discrepancy in the billing.
The Data Usage Indicates Irregular Patterns
Monitoring data usage is one of the best features of Android Smartphones. All you need to do is go the “settings” section and then click on the “data usage” option. This will give you a list of all the apps and services on the phone that are using the internet. It also gives the real time stats for data being used by each app / service. Keep an eye out for discrepancies between data being used by the apps and the data being used by you. Any difference which exceeds 10 MB is a sign of parasitic activity and indicates a strong probability of your Smartphone being hacked.
It would be helpful to check if simple applications are using more data than required. If this occurs, then be advised that the app could be malicious in nature and such programs should be immediately removed from the phone. Wiping the data completely from the phone and applying factory settings is the last but safest option and should only be done if the extent of the malicious activity is unclear.
Battery Life is Critically Reduced
Hackers have become smarter than before and they are aware of the key signs that give away the presence of malware. So Android malware and virus programs are developed in such a way so that the battery consumption is not affected. But malware that is poorly coded can cause rapid loss of battery charge. However, this is an assumed indicated and does not give an accurate confirmation of malicious activity.
The Apps on Your Smartphone are from 3rd Party / Unverified Vendors
Security experts strongly advise not to install any application that comes from unverified sources or through the email. Usually the online marketplaces have quality checks in place to ensure that the applications that are made available online are genuine and will not cause any harm. However, some malicious content manages to get approval from these verified sources and this causes the majority of the problem where the users download the apps by considering them to be trustworthy, when in fact they are malicious.
Rik Ferguson, Director of Security Research and Communication at Trend Micro recently stated in his blog that, “There are plenty of malicious apps that make it out there in Google Play’s storefront. Just over 46 percent of the apps that Trend Micro has classified as ‘malicious’ — leaving aside the high-risk ones — were sourced directly from Google Play.” A good approach would be to back up the data on the Smartphone to secure servers so that in the case of loss of data, it may be retrieved.
Is Your Phone Easily Accessible to Others?
Who said that hackers can only infiltrate through malware and malicious content? Anyone who has access to your device and is aware of your security codes, patterns and PIN numbers is a potential hacker. Keep your phone out of physical reach of others, especially the ones whom you don’t trust completely. A jealous business partner or an angry friend may compromise the security of the data stored on the phone.
Have You Rooted Your Android Device?
Have you recently installed a custom ROM or have had your device rooted? Then you could be at a serious risk. When you root or jailbreak your phones, then you allow more apps to run with root level access / permission and this has the potential to expose your security measures to a considerable extent.
You should only get it done when you are completely aware of the consequences and are prepared to manage the security breaches that could occur as the result of rooting. You cannot wipe out the data and reset factory settings in a rooted phone as the entire OS needs to be installed again for ensuring that the malware is safely removed from the device, even at the root level.
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