If someone infiltrates your phone to access any data without your consent, then you’ve been hacked. Phone hacking can be done in different ways for various reasons. Some hackers utilize sophisticated tools like apps and software while some utilize the more straightforward methods. To some extent, most, if not all, hackers also rely on the operating system and security vulnerabilities as well as on utilizer mistakes.
Aside from asking “What do I do if my phone was hacked?”, you can also ask “How do hackers hack your phone?”. Go ahead and try and learn more about how hackers could infiltrate your phone. Knowing the hacker’s methods will help you to put in place better precautionary measures on your devices. Knowing what to avoid will also greatly reduce the risk of your phone getting hacked.
One of the more rampant methods of hacking is via phishing attacks. Phishing is a targeted cyberattack. It typically lures victims into clicking a malicious link, downloading a compromised attachment, or even outright sending sensitive information. If you do any of these things, then it’s only a matter of time before you realize you’ve been hacked.
Entities behind phishing attacks are typically after your personal information. Hackers behind such attacks often utilize a targeted pitch that serves as the bait to lure in specific groups of individuals. There are different types of phishing attacks including:
- Email Phishing
Hackers will send emails typically impersonating well-known brands or organizations. Email phishing leverages social engineering and creates a sense of immediacy to entice people into clicking a malicious link or downloading a malicious attachment. Click on that link and you’re as good as hacked.
- Whaling or CEO Fraud
This type of corporate phishing leverages open-source intelligence (OSINT) to gather data from publicly available sources like a company’s social media accounts or corporate website. Cybercriminals will then impersonate the CEO or any other senior leader or head of a company utilizing a similar email address. The email could either ask for a money transfer, ask the recipient to view a document or any similar action.
- Vishing or Voice Phishing
In this type of phishing, the cybercriminals typically pretend to be from reputable organizations like the IRS or the victim’s bank. This creates a heightened sense of urgency that pushes the victim to take any action that may lead to them getting hacked or scammed out of their savings.
- Smishing or SMS Phishing
This is like any other phishing but with the utilization of SMS or text messages. Most of the time, the text will contain a link that when clicked on will install malware on the victim’s device.
A keylogger is a form of spyware that captures your phone’s keystrokes. Keyloggers are activity-monitoring apps or software programs that can be maliciously utilized by hackers to access your personal data. It’s quite dangerous in the sense you may not even know you’ve been hacked since keylogger apps typically work in stealth mode.
Keylogger apps can be utilized by hackers to record all sorts of data including web search entries, social media login credentials, in-app keystrokes, online banking passwords, credit card numbers and PINs, and other personal information. If successfully installed on your device, keyloggers will tear down all illusions of phone security and privacy you may have.
The Stingray Method
Stingray pertains to the device or tool that impersonates a legitimate cell tower. It will then go ahead and trick mobile phones and other wireless communication devices into connecting to them. This will then reveal the mobile device’s international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) which is why stingray is also referred to as an IMSI catcher. The Stingray method will also collect information that can point to a mobile device’s location.
Stingray is a controversial surveillance tool that’s also utilized by law enforcement agencies. For instance, law enforcement would utilize a stingray to locate an individual utilizing that person’s phone number. For this reason and probably several others, the utilization of a stingray greatly appeals to hackers.
Hacking via Spamming
Spamming pertains to the sending out of unsolicited messages via email, text messaging, instant messaging, and other digital communications apps or tools. Spam, especially in the form of emails, generally tries to advertise products or services. Hackers will typically pose as a legitimate brand or organization. Spamming is typically connected to one of the most famous types of phishing attacks which is email phishing.
Spam typically contains a malicious link that when clicked on will open your phone to being hacked by malicious individuals. Hackers utilize spamming methods for several reasons including it providing them access to a bigger number of possible victims at the same time. Sending spam to a target group or individual in a specific region is also relatively easier for hackers. Also, spam campaigns are relatively cheap compared to other, more sophisticated hacking methods.
Hacking via Bluetooth
Hackers utilize software specifically designed to detect nearby devices with Bluetooth. Such software also allows hackers to see the networks to which your device was previously connected. Knowing these networks is crucial in Bluetooth hacking since your phone will treat these networks as trusted. Unless you tweak your settings, your phone will automatically connect to the said networks in the future.
The hackers will simply replicate the trusted network to track your phone into connecting to Bluetooth devices they control, bypassing your phone security. Once the connection is established, hackers can now inject your phone with malicious software or infected apps that would spy on you. This will effectively let the hackers acquire data from your texts and apps, among others.
Spyware or spy software or any other similar app monitors your phone usage and activities. Spyware or spy apps can be utilized to observe your behavior to spot security vulnerabilities or outright steal data considered private, sensitive, or related to security.
Spyware is often unknowingly downloaded by the victims themselves. This is mainly because spyware is typically disguised as a reputable app or software like a parental control app. It could infect you via downloading third-party apps or those not verified by Google Play Store or the App Store. Some utilizers also make the mistake of jailbreaking or rooting their device which would lower their security and make them easier targets for hackers.
Spyware is typically programmed by hackers to attach themselves to files, emails, and the like. The spyware will then look for specific types of information like credit card information, phone numbers, email addresses, social media app login credentials, and more. Any acquired data will then be sent to a remote database where the hackers could access them.
Man-in-the-middle or MITM attacks typically require the hacker to have control of a Wi-Fi network. Hackers can also create a free unencrypted Wi-Fi connection which some people connect to without thinking of the risks. The Wi-Fi connection, specifically the control over it, will allow hackers to intercept data between two parties. For instance, it can intercept messages containing personal details or emails that might include security or business-related information.
Once you’re connected to a compromised Wi-Fi network, any security you have in place is essentially useless. The hackers may not even need to decrypt data. For example, if you log in to your online banking account while on the compromised network, hackers could easily access all the online banking-related information you enter on your phone.
There are several types of MITM attacks including the following:
- Wi-Fi Eavesdropping
As previously mentioned, this is when hackers set up or create a free unencrypted network to trick unsuspecting people to connect to it. Hackers will typically name the network as something similar to a legitimate Wi-Fi connection. Hackers will then be able to “see” all the online activities of those who are connected to the Wi-Fi network. This includes usernames and passwords, social media engagements and web searches, and more.
- Email Hijacking
This is also a form of phishing. In this type of MITM attack, hackers typically target the email accounts of banks, financial institutions, and other similar organizations. Hackers can then gather sensitive information on employees, clients, and all transactions. The gathered data may then be utilized by hackers to scam other people.
Hackers, for instance, can send emails pretending to be from the victim’s bank. Since the email contains key details considered sensitive data only the bank knows, the victims might not see anything amiss. They trust their bank’s security to be so strong and impenetrable they wouldn’t even consider their data has been compromised.
- IP spoofing
Hackers can spoof Internet Protocol or IP addresses. The IP address is a unique number that identifies a network device. Hackers will trick your device into thinking the spoofed IP address is a familiar website. In truth, you will be communicating with the hacker and may unwittingly provide them with sensitive and personal details.
Malvertising or malicious advertising attacks come from infected ads. You can fall victim to hackers by clicking on an infected ad or visiting a website with a corrupted ad. Hackers and cybercriminals can buy ad space and then submit infected images with malicious code then hope legitimate sites will run the ad.
Hackers continuously refine more sophisticated hacking methods which could successfully stump the phone security measures in place. So be prepared, don’t be lax on your security; instead, keep your phone security a priority. Hackers can utilize many forms and methods to gain a foothold in your phone’s operating system. This can include the utilization of spy apps, keylogger apps, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections, emails and text messages, third-party apps, verified apps, and more. Always be vigilant to avoid falling victim to hackers.