If you’ve noticed some strange behaviour from your phone and you’re worried that it may be hacked then you’re in the right place. Read on and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about how to unhack your phone.

What you need to know about phone hacking

Your device behaving differently than it normally would is often a tell-tale sign that you’ve been a victim of phone hacking. Here are some common things to watch out for:

  • Device slowing down or crashing – If you’ve had a few problems with the performance of your phone or even had a problem with the device crashing completely then this could be a sign that malicious software is ‘stealing’ processing power from the normal functions of the phone.
  • Overheating – As above, overheating and slow performance usually go hand-in-hand. If your device has been hacked, you may notice an increase in the temperature of your phone as it’s being made to work harder than normal.
  • Battery running down quickly – Another sign of malware running in the background and continually accessing your data is the battery running down much quicker than normal.
  • Strange sounds during calls – This is less common, but if you’ve noticed strange sounds during a phone call, this could be a sign that someone is listening in on your conversations and maybe even recording them.

If you’ve noticed some of these signs, then it’s certainly possible that your phone is hacked. However, they could also be common traits of an older device or merely symptoms of a technical issue. Therefore the best thing to do at this stage is to perform a scan of your device to confirm your suspicions.

Scan iPhone
Scan Android
Scan iPhone
Scan Android

Once you’ve performed a scan, you will know for sure whether your phone has been hacked and can then take the steps necessary to unhack it. Furthermore, once you know exactly how your device has been hacked you’ll also be able to ascertain what data may have been compromised and take further steps to rectify the problem (i.e. speaking to your bank or changing your passwords).

For iOS users, you can scan your device with Certo AntiSpy, the industry-leading spyware detection tool for iPhone and iPad.

For Android, you can download our app, Certo Mobile Security, directly from the Google Play Store.

Both of these apps will allow you to discover exactly what hack you’re dealing with (or if you’ve even been hacked at all).

How do I unhack my phone?

The steps to unhack your phone are slightly different depending on what device you have:

Unhacking an iPhone/iPad

1. Look for unrecognized apps on your device.

If you find unrecognized apps on your phone, these could be potentially accessing some of your most private data and passing it onto a third party (the hacker). The best thing to do here is to just uninstall any apps that you don’t recognize or remember installing.

2. Check app permissions on your phone.

This will help you to discover any apps that are spying on things such as your GPS location.

To view the different permissions simply tap Settings > Privacy. From here you can check each feature and the apps which have permission to use it, as well as easily being able to turn off the permissions as required.

3. Perform an iOS update.

In most cases, performing an iOS update will stop any installed commercial spyware from functioning.
To do an update, simply go to Settings > General > Software update.

Your device will then check if an update is available and will then prompt you to install by following the on-screen instructions.

4. Perform a factory reset.

Whilst updating your iOS version will remove the vast majority of commercially available iOS spyware, you may want to perform a factory reset if you want to be extra sure or if you are already running the last version of iOS and cannot update.

This will completely wipe your device. So make sure to back up anything important beforehand.

  1. Go to Settings > General > Reset.
  2. Tap Erase all content and settings.
  3. Tap either Backup and erase or Erase now to start the process.
  4. Type in your passcode if you have one (you really should have one)
  5. Tap the option to Erase iPhone (or iPad) in red.
  6. Enter your Apple ID account password.
  7. Done, your device is now fully wiped and back to the same state it was in when it left the factory.

BONUS TIP: Turn on Two-Factor Authentication with your Apple ID (if you haven’t already).

Whilst this won’t outright stop an attack that’s happening on your phone, it will protect the data you have stored on your iCloud account, which could be a complete backup of your device.

Unhacking an Android phone

1. Look for unrecognized apps on your device.

As with iOS, any apps that you don’t recognize should be checked and uninstalled if necessary. Bear in mind that some malicious apps can be disguised to look legitimate or harmless.

Note: Be ruthless here, any app can be re-installed if necessary. But also bear in mind that many Android devices will come with pre-installed apps from the manufacturer so you might need to have a look on Google to verify if these apps are critical to your device’s function and if it’s even possible to remove them.

2. Check app permissions on your phone.

This allows you to make sure that apps on your device aren’t secretly spying on you without your knowledge. If you have the Certo Mobile Security app installed, you can do this by tapping on Privacy Audit and viewing the list of apps you have installed, along with which are accessing your GPS location, camera, microphone or other device functions.

Or, if you want to check permissions manually instead, here’s how:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Tap Apps or Manage apps.
  3. Tap App permissions.
  4. Tap each permission to see which apps have access and adjust accordingly.

3. Use the phone’s built-in antivirus to remove any offending apps.

Some Android manufacturers pre-install security apps that will allow you to remove any hacking apps from your device without the need to install anything else.

However, if your device does not have built-in antivirus then Google has included something called Google Play Protect that is available on every Android phone which will scan your device to ensure that all of your apps are legitimate.

Here’s how to activate Google Play Protect:

  1. Go to Settings > Google
  2. Tap Security > Google Play Protect (sometimes labelled as Verify Apps)
  3. Tap Turn on then refresh to scan your device.

4. Alternatively, use Certo Mobile Security.

Certo’s industry leading Android security app (which is FREE by the way) provides the most thorough way to keep your device secure. Not only does it scan your apps much like Google Play Protect, but it also checks deep in your system files for any other types of threats that are not so easily detected. Once these have been detected, they can easily be removed in one simple ‘tap’.

BONUS TIP: Perform a factory reset on your device.

If you want to be extra sure that your device is clean then you may decide to just wipe everything clean and start from scratch by performing a factory reset.

Important: If you are thinking of doing a factory reset, please make sure you back up any important information or media such as photos, videos, etc.

Once you’re ready, you can factory reset your phone via the Settings app, however this is different for every manufacturer so you will have to perform a search for your specific model. See more information here.