If you suspect your Android phone has been hacked, what should you do? In this guide, we’ll show you exactly how to deal with a hacked Android phone…
It doesn’t happen very often, but it can –and does –happen. Usually, if your Android phone has been hacked it is because you’ve downloaded some dodgy application from outside the Google Play Store.
Or you picked up some malware from a dodgy site. It could be a Trojan virus, some spam, a weird bot that does strange things to your phone, or even something you might not even notice like a key logger.
Whatever the reason, it is easier than most people think to get your Android phone infected with a virus or malware. That is why it is super-important you ONLY ever download trusted applications from trusted sources like the Google Play Store.
But even then, you’re still not 100% covered. Dealing with a phone hacker is tricky, they have a lot of tools and specialist knowledge.
Google routinely removes apps from the Play Store for this express reason –they’re dodgy, they contain viruses and trojans that are designed purely to infect your phone and access your personal data.
But before we get to dealing with an infected or hacked Android phone, it is probably best to first establish how you can tell or find out if your Android phone is infected or has been hacked.
How To Tell if Your Android Phone Has Been Hacked
Viruses and the approaches used by hackers change all the time, so it is always good to be vigilant. You do have the ol’ classic approaches though, things like pop-ups that tell you your phone might be infected, and these are used to deposit a virus or malware on your phone when you click on them.
You also have things like email spam; and these have gotten really sophisticated during the recent COVID outbreak. They might even look like legit emails from your ISP or an energy company, so always make sure you check the sender’s email address –if it is dodgy, you’ll be able to tell right away.
Another method hackers use for infecting your phone is via applications, downloads, or files you might download from P2P or torrent sites. As always, if you’re dealing with files or downloads outside the official channels, you have to be super-careful. This applies to APK downloads, P2P downloads, and basically anything outside the official channels.
And by official channels, I mean things like Google Play, Amazon, Samsung Store, and other “known” sources for apps and downloads. If you’re regularly downloading pirated content or APK files to avoid paying for apps, you are way more likely to get your phone infected.
And the reason is simple: hackers use these platforms to gain entry to Android phones.
They know most people won’t spot the difference and, once the app is installed, the virus can proliferate inside the phone, harvesting your data and causing problems.
Can You Find Out Who Hacked Your Phone?
In some cases, you might be able to identify the person that tried to hack your phone but in most cases –like 99% of them –it will be next to impossible to find out who hacked your phone.
Most phone hackers operate on the dark web and behind proxied servers. They know not to leave a trace. And even when you’re dealing with one via email in the case of a ransomware attack, they’ll still make sure to cover their tracks, keeping their identity hidden from you.
Most cyber attacks and phone hacks are done through malware, so there isn’t a personal element to it –it is an automated process that is simply initiated once you’ve downloaded the malware onto your phone. This makes finding out who hacked your phone essentially impossible.
The best thing to do is get rid of the malware and be A LOT more careful in the future.
Other Signs Your Android Phone Has Been Hacked
- Awful Battery Performance –If you suddenly notice a massive drop-off in your phone’s battery life, it could be related to a virus. You’ll want to go to Settings > Battery and from here you’ll be able to see if any apps are behaving strangely.
- Slow Overall Performance –Malware or a virus can cause your phone to run slowly. This is because the virus has hijacked your phone’s CPU and is using it to run tasks. If you notice your phone’s performance dip, you’ll want to run a scan on the device to check for malware or a virus. I use MalwareBytes –it is a great tool for scanning and monitoring your Android phone.
- Your Phone Sends Weird Text Messages –Some viruses or malware will send text messages to premium numbers from your phone. If this is the case, you’ll see strange messages that you didn’t send appearing in your text message app. If you see this happening, it is time to run a scan.
- Increase In Data Usage –Most people know how much data, on average, they use per month. If you notice spikes in data usage, this could be a sign that your Android phone has been infected and that the virus is using your data connection to perform operations. Again, if that happens, perform a scan.
Check Your Apps, Look For Anything You Didn’t Download
Another simple way to check if your Android phone has been hacked is to regularly check what apps you have installed on your phone. If you spot an app that you definitely did not install, this could be malware or a virus.
You will want to immediately delete any apps that you do not recognise. And if you cannot delete them, you may need to factory reset your phone. Before doing this, however, I would recommend that you run MalwareBytes and see if it can isolate and take out the problem. Nine times out of ten, it can.
Again, if you are going to install apps on your Android phone, you should ONLY be downloading them from Google Play –or Samsung or Amazon. Do not use APK file downloads, if you can help it, as these are breeding ground for malware and viruses.
Google is constantly monitoring the apps on its Play Store, so it is the safest place to download from. You still get infected apps from Google Play, but they’re usually found before too long. And if your phone has an infected app on it that you downloaded from Google Play, you can usually get instructions from Google on how to best deal with it.
How To Fix A Hacked Android Phone
OK, so you’ve established that your phone has a virus or has been hacked. Now what? How do you fix a hacked Android phone? As noted earlier, your first port of call will be to run an antivirus tool on your phone.
I use MalwareBytes –it’s cheap and designed for Android – but there are loads of other options too like Norton and Kaspersky to name just a couple.
If you run the antivirus software and it fixes the problem, great, all you need to do now is restart your phone and be more careful in the future. But if it doesn’t fix the issue, and this can happen from time to time, you will need to factory reset your Android phone.
A factory reset is where you essentially revert the phone back to its original settings –it erases all of your data, apps, and personal files. For this reason, it is important that you have a back-up handy, otherwise you’ll lose a lot of stuff.
Fortunately, most modern Android phones are usually backed up inside Google services like Photos and the Google Play Store. Once you’ve checked that everything is backed up, go to Settings > Backup & Reset > Reset > Factory Data Reset.
A factory reset of your phone is the nuclear option; only do this if your antivirus software has failed to fix the issue. If you do not want to do this, you could always try taking your Android phone to a specialist company that deals with removing malware and viruses from phones.
How To Protect Your Android Phone From Hackers & Viruses
As noted above, the simplest way to protect your Android phone from hackers and/or viruses is ONLY download apps and content from official sources –Google Play, Amazon, Samsung App Store. You’ll want to stay clear of free APK downloads and torrent and P2P sites as well, they’re a hotbed for malware and viruses.
Never click on weird pop-ups. In fast, avoid pop-ups at all times. Unless it is one that is legit (like the one that pop-ups on our site). This is an email optin and is completely different to a scammer pop-up which uses your click to pass a virus from a server onto your phone.
You’ll also want to ensure that the option to “Install From Unknown Sources” is not enabled in your settings. This will ensure that NOTHING can be installed on your phone unless it is from a legit source like Google Play.
Mostly, you just want to be vigilant. Never give your details to anyone via email, never click on spam pop-ups, do not download hacked or free versions of premium applications, and try and stay clear of torrent and P2P sites. If you can do this, and you have your phone encrypted and up to date with the latest software, you should be fine.
And if you’re not, at least you have tools that you can use to fix and/or isolate the problem before it gets too serious.
What is The End Goal of A Phone Hacker?
Being targeted by a phone hacker is annoying and while it is usually pretty random, most hackers set traps and wait for unsuspecting people to fall in them, what is the actual end goal of a phone hacker?
According to Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach study, almost 86% of cyberattacks are motivated by money –the hacker wants to make some money. This could be done in a few ways but the most common is obtaining someone’s personal data and then selling it on the dark web.
They may also gain access to your personal financial accounts, savings or your bank account, and clean them out, syphoning off the money either all at once or drip-feeding it out of the account over months and years. And the most common way a hacker gains entry to your phone is through dodgy apps and/or software you download –things like pirated films and APK files.
Even Apple’s iPhone isn’t immune to these kinds of attacks. Phone hackers routinely target Apple’s iPhone but aren’t nearly as successful because iPhones by their very nature are more locked-down, whereas Android users are free to install pretty much whatever they like on their phones.
However, according to Kaspersky, the most common way phone hackers target Android phones is via Malware. Malware is short-hand for malicious software and is, basically, a blanket term for all different kinds of viruses, worms, trojans, and bots. Although you have plenty of other forms of hacks too –from spyware to ransomware, whereby a hacker takes over a phone and then demands money to give the user access to their data.
Pretty crazy stuff, right?
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.
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Can you fix a hacked Android phone? ›
You can fix a hacked Android phone by deleting any suspicious apps, files, or widgets you don't recognize as well as revoking admin access in your settings and regularly clearing your cache. If this doesn't work, you may need to perform a full factory reboot.Can a hack on a phone be removed? ›
Some Android manufacturers pre-install antivirus apps that will allow you to remove any hacking apps from your device without the need to install anything else. Whichever Android phone you have, it's also a good idea to check that Google Play Protect is enabled on your phone.What do I dial to see if my Android phone is hacked? ›
Use the code *#21# to see if hackers track your phone with malicious intent. You can also use this code to verify if your calls, messages, or other data are being diverted. It also shows your diverted information's status and the number to which the information is transferred.What is the first thing you do when you get hacked? ›
Change your passwords immediately
If you see suspicious activity in your accounts and think you've been hacked, update all your passwords — not just the ones you know were compromised. It may seem like a lot of work, but it's the only way to ensure that hackers can't do any more damage.
Your phone loses charge quickly. Your phone is running slower than usual. You notice strange activity on your online accounts, like unfamiliar logins, new account signups, or password reset emails. You see unfamiliar calls or texts.Who do I contact if my phone is hacked? ›
The FBI and your local police both suggest that you should call them.Can I block a hacker? ›
Download a good security app
A good security app can help you block hackers from your phone as well as detect any threats or vulnerabilities that may already be on there. Certo Mobile Security for iPhone and Android are trusted by millions worldwide to help protect their device's from cyber attacks.
The short answer is no, your phone cannot be hacked while it's turned off. Phone hacking, even remotely, only works if the device being targeted is on. That doesn't mean you're personally safe from hackers while your devices are off.Can a hacker see me through my phone? ›
If a hacker installs spyware on your phone then there is a good chance they will be able to access your camera and turn it on/off as they please. They may also be able to access any photos or videos you have previously taken.What does *# 21 do on an Android? ›
Luckily, you can still detect diversions by dialing *#21#. Just like the redirection code, this code asks your phone to return a list of information that tells you what numbers are receiving your calls, messages, and data.
What is * * 4636 * * Android secret codes? ›
*#*#4636#*#* Displays information about the phone, battery, and various network statistics.What happens if you dial *# 21? ›
When you dial *#21#, you are, in fact, activating a feature access code that quickly tells you the status of call forwarding for your phone. It's a quick way of seeing what, in the case of this particular 'setting interrogation code,' your call forwarding settings. That's it, nothing more or less.How do hackers get away with it? ›
Hackers will often use secure software such as a proxy server to hide their identity and funnel their communications through lots of different countries in order to evade detection. Other technologies like Tor and encryption enable them to add multiple layers to mask their identity.What are the 2 possible signs that you have been hacked? ›
- Password reset emails. ...
- Random popups. ...
- Contacts receiving fake emails or text messages from you. ...
- Redirected internet searches. ...
- Computer, network, or internet connection slows down. ...
- Ransomware messages.
- Use a firewall. ...
- Install antivirus software. ...
- Install an anti-spyware package. ...
- Use complex passwords. ...
- Keep your OS, apps and browser up-to-date. ...
- Ignore spam. ...
- Back up your computer. ...
- Shut it down.
Yes, you can link an Android phone with another Android phone. There are mainly two ways to connect two Android phones. Bluetooth is the most basic way to connect two phones wirelessly. But here is a better way which is to use a third-party Android app to remotely control another phone.Can hackers see your screen? ›
Can a hacker access my computer camera, microphone, and screen? Yes. Cybercriminals use malware like spyware to remotely access and control your camera, microphone, and screen. In fact, malicious actors often use camera and microphone recordings to blackmail people.What do hackers hate the most? ›
- They look for an in, both online and offline. ...
- They like lazy people. ...
- Your vanity can be used against you.
- The more you put online, the easier you are to hack.
- The more you put online, the easier you are to hack.
- You aren't invincible.
- You aren't invincible.
- You aren't invincible.
While passport information sells for the most amount of money, Social Security numbers are the most valuable to hackers, as these can be used for tax fraud, opening credit accounts, and other malicious activities.
If someone has hacked your phone, they could gain access to your personal details, social media accounts, bank accounts, and more. Although we're not trying to scare you, this is a very real problem. Don't risk your online security by overlooking the possibility that your phone is hacked.
How do you know if a hacker is watching you? ›
- You get a ransomware message.
- You get a fake antivirus message.
- You have unwanted browser toolbars.
- Your internet searches are redirected.
- You see frequent, random popups.
- Your friends receive social media invitations from you that you didn't send.
- Your online password isn't working.
Can you hack through the webcam? Yes, it's called camfecting. And they do it via Remote Access Trojans (RATs) — a type of malware that lets the attacker manipulate and use the victim's device remotely.How do you know if someone is watching you through your phone camera? ›
- Install Clario for Android.
- Launch the app and sign in or create an account.
- Tap Device.
- Tap Start scan under Spyware detector.
- Let the scan complete and remove any threats.
By pressing *3370# or #3370#, you'll activate your phone's “reserve battery power”. Battery life will increase by 50%. The reserve will automatically charge up the next time you change your device.What does *# 31 do on Android? ›
If you want to hide the caller ID dial *31# and press call button. This code allows you to check which number your phone is currently forwarding calls to when you're busy or reject a call. If you want to deactivate call waiting dial #43#.What is *# 9900? ›
The *#9900# code is a diagnostic code used on Samsung mobile devices. It opens the "SysDump" mode, which provides advanced system information and options for troubleshooting and debugging purposes.What is this code * 2767 * 3855? ›
*2767*3855# (Wipe Your Device and Reinstall Firmware)
Think of it as a factory reset—type this code on your dialer and run it, and it'll effectively delete all data from your phone, and wipe it clean.
Samsung (for Galaxy S4 and later)
What is the 3-digit number to see if your phone is tapped? If your phone is on a CDMA network like Verizon or US Cellular, dialing the code *72 will tell you whether any of your calls or data are being forwarded to another number. Dial *#002# to uncover this kind of phone tapping on GSM networks.What is * 74 on your phone? ›
To program your Speed Calling 8 list, dial *74. Listen for the dialtone, then dial the one-digit number (2 through 9) you would like to use to dial a frequently called number.
What does * 73 mean on a phone? ›
Call forwarding is disabled by dialing *73. This feature requires a subscription from the telephone company. Also available in some areas is Remote Access to call forwarding, which permit the control over call forwarding from telephones other than the subscriber's telephone.What does * 73 do on a phone? ›
Call Forwarding Always €“ Deactivation
Deactivates Call Forwarding Always. Lift the telephone handset, press the speaker button, or the headset button. Dial the code *73, then #. You will hear a confirmation message.
The goal might be financial gain, disrupting a competitor or enemy, or theft of valuable data or intellectual property. Their clients might be nation-states, companies interested in corporate espionage, or other criminal groups looking to resell what the hackers steal.Can someone hack a phone with just a phone number? ›
Hopefully this has helped to reassure you that it is not possible for someone to hack your phone with just your number. However, phone hacking is a real threat and there are many other ways for hackers to gain access. Install Certo for Android or iPhone today and reduce the risk of phone hacking.What do hackers have access to? ›
Hackers illegally access devices or websites to steal peoples' personal information, which they use to commit the crimes like theft. Many people shop, bank, and pay bills online. People also store financial information, like credit card or bank account numbers, on their devices.What happens when your phone is hacked? ›
When a hacker gets into your phone, they will try to steal access to your valuable accounts. Check your social media and email for password reset prompts, unusual login locations or new account signup verifications. You notice unfamiliar calls or texts in your logs. Hackers may be tapping your phone with an SMS trojan.Can hackers see what you are doing? ›
“Therefore, if someone hacks your phone, they would have access to the following information: email addresses and phone numbers (from your contacts list), pictures, videos, documents, and text messages.” Additionally, he warns, hackers can monitor every keystroke you type on the phone's keyboard.Should I change my phone number if I have been hacked? ›
What Can Scammers Do With Your Phone Number? If you've experienced identity theft, you should probably change your phone number. It's a massive inconvenience, but the pros will outweigh the cons.What is the most common trick hackers use to get user information? ›
Phishing is the most common hacking technique. All of our inboxes and text messaging apps are filled with phishing messages daily.Does changing password stop hackers? ›
Changing your passwords may not mitigate all the damage from malware or a successful phishing expedition. Still, it can keep future attackers or scammers from accessing your accounts or impersonating you further. Use a different device from the affected one to change your account password.
What are the 4 steps we all must take to avoid getting hacked? ›
- Turn on Multifactor Authentication. Implement multi-factor authentication on your accounts and make it significantly less likely you'll get hacked.
- Update Your Software. Update your software. ...
- Think Before You Click. Think before you click. ...
- Use Strong Passwords.
*#21# - This code will show you a list of numbers your calls have been forwarded to. If you see any numbers listed that you don't recognize, or if your calls have been forwarded to a number you didn't set up, it's possible that your phone has been hacked.What is *# 62 code used for? ›
With the *#62# settings interrogation code, you can see if calls or texts are being forwarded to another number whenever you're unreachable. If the "Voice Call Forwarding," "Data Call Forwarding," and "SMS Call Forwarding" all say they're disabled, good. If numbers are listed, they could be put there by someone else.Does *# 21 tell you if your phone is tapped? ›
You can find out if your phone has been tapped using unconditional data forwarding with the help of MMI codes. On GSM networks, dial *#21# to list, and ##21# to clear your unconditional data forwarding settings. CDMA network customers can view and modify these settings too by dialing **21*.Can you tell if your phone is being monitored? ›
If someone is spying on your phone, you may see your device's data usage increase, your phone may unexpectedly reboot or show signs of slowing down. You may also notice activity, such as your device's screen lighting up when it is in standby mode. You may also notice your device's battery life suddenly decreasing.Will a factory reset remove a hacker? ›
Yes, you should be able to remove a hacker by doing a factory reset on your phone. Keep in mind that this solution will remove all of your data, including contacts, third-party apps, photos, and other files. You will need to set up your phone entirely from scratch.How can I stop my phone from being monitored? ›
Go to “Settings.” Tap “Privacy.” Tap “Tracking.” Toggle off “Allow Apps to Request to Track” to stop all apps from tracking you.What does * 57 mean on the phone? ›
Here's how to activate Call Trace: Hang up the phone after receiving a harassing call. Pick up the phone and press *57 (touch tone) or 1157 (rotary). You'll hear a confirmation tone and message will be heard If the trace is successful.What happens if you dial *# 31? ›
Hide Caller ID: *31#
The caller might have hidden the ID intentionally or sometimes it can be accidental. If you want to hide the caller ID dial *31# and press call button.
61 to divert calls not answered after 15 seconds. 62 to divert calls when your phone is switched off. 67 to divert calls when your phone is engaged.
Can someone listen to you through your phone? ›
Therefore it's natural to wonder “can this happen to me?”. The truth is, yes. Someone can listen to your phone calls, if they have the right tools and they know how to use them – which when all is said and done, isn't anywhere near as difficult as you might expect.How do I know if I have a spy app on my Android? ›
You can use spyware detection apps like Certo Mobile Security, which can be downloaded from the Google Play Store for free, to run a scan on your phone to find hidden spy apps.How can I tell if my phone is being monitored by a spy app? ›
- You Use Too Much Data. ...
- Your Battery Is Draining Fast. ...
- Your Phone Is Overheating. ...
- You Hear Weird Sounds During Calls. ...
- Your Phone Feels Sluggish. ...
- You Notice Suspicious Changes and Charges. ...
- Your Phone Shows Signs of Activity When in Stand-By Mode. ...
- Your Phone Takes a Long Time to Shut Down.
The easiest way to discover if someone has tried to install spyware on your iPhone or Android smartphone is to scan your phone with security software like Certo AntiSpy (for iOS devices) or Certo Mobile Security (for Android devices).