It might be hard to believe, but we aren’t all technical gurus with the brainpower to code our own security systems for our smartphones. So, with that in mind, we created this simple guide to give the average user all the information they need to stay safe and avoid being hacked.
1. How does a phone get hacked?
When we talk about hacking, this usually involves someone installing a piece of software or a malicious app onto a device (a phone or tablet). This type of software is known as ‘Malware’.
Certain types of malware can give a hacker access to a wide range of information from your phone. This can include texts, phone calls, GPS location, photos & videos, account information and email passwords, etc. Pretty much anything you store on your phone could be at risk.
Here are some of the ways that a phone can be hacked:
- Someone installs a hidden spy app on your smartphone. Examples of these are mSpy and FlexiSpy. These malicious apps are classified as spyware and give the hacker remote access to the majority of the data on a phone, including messages, photos, GPS location and even the ability to listen in on phone conversations. The hacker would require physical access to the device in order to install these apps, but this can be done in a matter of minutes.
- Hackers exploit a vulnerability in a legitimate app. Hackers who want to target someone’s smartphone may not always be able to gain physical access to the device in order to install malware. Last year, it was discovered that hackers had exploited a vulnerability in the popular messaging app WhatsApp, which is used by 1.5bn people worldwide. This allowed the hackers to remotely infect a smartphone if it had WhatsApp installed. WhatsApp has now fixed this issue with their app, but it demonstrates how legitimate apps can be used as an entry point for hackers.
- Installing an app that contains malware. There have been examples recently where apps on both unofficial and the official app stores contain hidden malware. In most cases the malware is in the form of Adware, designed to bombard the user with advertisements on their device, but there have also been cases where user data was also compromised.
- Clicking on malicious links in emails or on websites. A determined hacker may be able to craft a malicious website that can infect a smartphone that visits the site. However, smartphone security has certainly improved in recent years and these attacks are getting more and more difficult for hackers to achieve. That said, smartphone users should always be aware of the websites they visit and the links they click in emails, especially unsolicited ones.
2. Here are the best ways to protect smartphones from malware:
- Regularly scan your device for malware and other security threats with an appropriate tool. Get Certo iPhone (for iOS devices) or Certo Mobile Security (for Android devices)
- Make sure your device is kept up to date. This will ensure it has the latest security patches and is protected from known vulnerabilities.
- Make sure all apps are kept up to date. This will ensure you have the latest security patches for the apps on your device.
- Use a strong Passcode to unlock your device. This will make it harder for someone to gain access to your device and install malware.
- Only install apps from the official app stores.
- Use two-factor authentication with your Apple ID (for iPhones) or your Google Play Account (for Androids). These accounts often contain data backed-up from your phone, so it’s important to protect these too.
- Be aware of the websites you visit and the links you click in emails on your smartphone.
3. How to remove spyware from your phone if you get hacked
On Android phones, this is relatively easy. Most security apps have the ability to scan the device for malware and remove any threats that are found. These apps can be found on the Google Play store and many are free. Check out Certo Mobile Security.
This can be more difficult on iPhones as Apple do not allow security apps to access areas of the filesystem where malware usually hides. In many cases, updating your iPhone software (iOS) will kill any malware. This is because updating removes a modification (known as a Jailbreak) needed by many malicious apps in order to function. Failing that, performing a factory reset will erase all data from the device and is therefore a more thorough method of removing malware. Users should ensure that they create a backup of their phone before performing a factory reset to avoid losing data.
If you would like a simple solution to keeping your phone secure, check out Certo iPhone (for iOS) or Certo Mobile Security (for Android). Our security tools are designed from the ground up to provide an easy-to-use solution to combat mobile spyware.