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How do phones get hacked and how can I prevent it for my device?

How do phones get hacked and how can I prevent it for my device?


The fear of a hacker attack on one's own phone is now widespread and well-founded. Face the truth: it has become possible to hack any phone. As technology advances, with increasing levels of knowledge and information fueling technical understanding, hackers are able to hack even some of the most sophisticated software programs for phones. But how?

Hacking software

Did you know that there is hacking software for mobile devices with Android and other operating systems? And that countless variants are offered free of charge on the Internet? Hacker software is a method used by hackers to get information on a phone. For more details, see our 2020 Mobile Threat Report.

Professional hackers can use software such as B. a spy app that needs to be installed on the target phone - buy anywhere. Hackers don't always need to have a phone handy to install their software on, but in some cases they do.

Keylogging is a method of downloading a spyware app, which then reads the data on the phone before encrypting it. This type of software requires direct access to the phone.

Trojans are a type of malware that can be found on your phone and can contain important data, such as: B. credit card details or personal information. To install Trojan malware, hackers use techniques such as phishing to trap you.


Phishing is a method used by hackers to pretend to be a company or a trusted person in order to gain access to sensitive information. The cyber criminals send official looking codes, pictures and messages, most commonly via email and text message. If you open the malicious link in it, your phone will be hacked because the link has been infected with a virus or software that can steal your personal information.

Hacking over a phone number

In order to carry out a hacking attack with only one phone number, one needs to know and understand the technical details of phone hacking. Signaling System 7 is a collection of protocols and procedures that are used to connect cellular networks with one another. In order to use this system for phone hacking, one needs access to it. If this is the case, calls can be recorded, calls forwarded, messages read and a specific device located. However, due to the level of difficulty, it is unlikely that the average person would be able to hack a phone this way.

SIM card hacking

In August 2019, Twitter's CEO's SIM card was hacked using SIM swapping. In this method, the hacker contacts your phone provider, pretends to be you, and requests a replacement SIM card. As soon as the provider sends the new SIM card to the hacker, the old SIM card is deactivated and your telephone number is transferred. So the hacker is now receiving your calls, messages, and so on. This type of hacking is relatively easy if the hacker can successfully impersonate the provider. It is all the more important to keep personal information to yourself to ensure that hackers cannot impersonate you.

AdaptiveMobile Security discovered a new way for hackers to break into phones through the SIM card - this is known as a Simjacker. This type of hacking is more complex than phishing because when the SIM card is attacked, a signal is sent to the target device. If the message is opened and the link is tapped, hackers are able to spy on the hacked device and even determine the location of the device.

Bluetooth hacking

Professional hackers can use special software products to search for vulnerable mobile devices with a working Bluetooth connection. To do this, a hacker needs to be within range of your phone, which is usually the case in a densely populated area. When hackers are connected to your device via bluetooth, they will have access to all available information and the internet connection, but the data will need to be downloaded while the phone is in range.

How to stop being a victim of phone hacking

As we've seen, there are many different ways a hacker can break into your phone and steal personal, highly sensitive information. Here are a few tips on how to make sure you don't become a victim of phone hacking:

1. Do not let go of your phone

The easiest way for a hacker to steal the information on your phone is to gain physical access to it. Hence, it is always important to keep your phone with you. If you've left your phone out of sight around strangers and are worried about possible hacking attacks, check your settings and look for any suspicious apps.

2. Encrypt your device

By encrypting your cell phone, you can ward off hackers and protect your calls, messages and important information. How to check if a device is encrypted: iPhone users can tap “Touch ID & Passcode”, scroll down and turn on data protection. Android users have automatic encryption depending on the type of phone.

3. SIM card lock

If you put a passcode on your SIM card, it is better protected against hacking attacks. This code can be set on an iPhone under “Settings> Phone> SIM PIN”. Enter your existing PIN to activate the lock. Android users go to “Settings> Lock screen and security> Other security settings> Set up SIM lock”. Here you can activate the option to lock your SIM card.

4. Deactivate WLAN and Bluetooth

It's pretty easy for hackers to connect to your phone using WiFi or Bluetooth. So turn them off when they are not needed because hackers will attack without warning. If you fear that you might be hacked in public, just turn off your phone - it is an effective preventive method.

5. Use security software

Installing a free security app on your iPhone or Android device can protect cell phones from hackers. McAfee Total Protection helps prevent cyber threats and includes McAfee WebAdvisor to help you identify malicious websites.

Stay protected

Once you understand how hacking works, you can incorporate security precautions into your daily life. That way, if an attack really does occur, you are not caught off guard.