It is not uncommon for people to store sensitive information such as passwords and banking information on their smartphones. We also use mobile phones for multi-factor authentication and password reset. Receiving text messages with verification codes can make us feel more secure, but we must consider that if hackers take control of our mobile phones, they can redirect these text messages to another device so that they can access our online accounts.

Banking and online shopping may make our lives easier, but because they require us to enter confidential information, they make our mobile phones an attractive target for hackers and can be attacked in various ways. Smartphones have become the preferred prey of hackers.

Such information can be saved for ransom or sold on the dark web. Attacks can also cause you to completely lose control of your phone. Remember, hackers don’t always need to physically tamper with your smartphone to damage it, but despite this, smartphone security receives far less attention than computer security, and most people don’t even take basic precautions. By reading this article, you can understand the four ways that smartphones are hacked and how to avoid them.

Spy Apps

There are many apps that allow you to track someone’s location and listen to their conversations without their knowledge. Usually they advertise to suspicious couples or parents who want to look after their children. These types of applications not only provide you with the GPS location of your phone, but also allow you to remotely record calls, view text messages, emails, photos, and Internet history. Some people can even use the microphone of their phone to record the conversation in person. This is basically everything a hacker can dream of doing with your phone.

The worst part is that you may already have a spy app installed on your phone, but you don’t know anything about it. They are easy to install and are usually very discreet. You may notice that the battery life is a bit short, or you are consuming more Internet traffic, but that’s it. You can find the spy app on Google Play and the unofficial iOS or Android app store, so if someone has access to your phone, they can easily download and install it. As a general rule of thumb, you should avoid downloading applications from unverified sources because they may contain malware. In some cases, this malware will allow hackers to use your phone to create a botnet.

Because these apps are often installed by someone close to you, the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to use a strong passcode that will reduce the likelihood of someone getting access. You should also avoid jailbreaking your phone because it’s easier to hide spy apps on jailbroken devices.

Phishing Messages

Although well known, phishing is still the most effective and therefore one of the most popular hacking techniques. People are usually the weakest link in network security, so strategies based on social engineering are more likely to succeed. Although most people today know not to click on links or open random email attachments, they tend to be less cautious when using their mobile phones. On your smartphone, you can receive emails and text messages.

These messages usually appear to come from trustworthy sources like friends, employers, or companies you do business with. They also tend to have a sense of urgency to give you a compelling reason to take action. For instance, the message could inform you of some suspicious activity on your account and give you instructions on what you need to do to remedy the situation.

It could look like it’s coming from the IRS during tax season or a friend urging you to check out an embarrassing photo of yourself from a party. These days, messages and emails related to the novel coronavirus are very popular.

The instructions will almost always lead you to either download something that contains malware or give away sensitive information.

To protect yourself from this kind of cyberattack, it’s best to double-check the sender. If you’re getting emails that claim to be from the IRS or your bank, double-check by visiting their official website and getting their contact information. In terms of installing apps, if you have an iPhone and it isn’t jailbroken, it won’t let you install anything that isn’t on the official App Store. Android phones will give you a warning that you shouldn’t ignore.

Hacked iCloud and Google Accounts

You won’t believe in the vast amount of information that hackers can access by hacking into your iCloud or Google account. Saved passwords, current location, browsing history, call history, messages, and all the photos you have backed up. If you have nude photos and you are not a celebrity, you are not in danger of leaking to the media, but they will be leaked to hackers. You can use them to blackmail you.

Moreover, hacking into your Google account means hacking into your Gmail as well, which might be connected to other accounts, allowing for identity theft at a level that can seriously compromise your credit.

And hackers don’t even need to have physical access to your phone to do this. Many people use their names in their email addresses and use their email account to sign up for different services. They often have weak passwords containing personal details, and even when they don’t, the security questions will have answers that are readily available on the internet. That’s why it’s better not to give honest answers to security questions.

To minimize risk, you should create strong passwords first and avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. You also need to enable login notifications to notify you when someone logs in from another device. Finally, use multi-factor authentication so that hackers can’t access your account if they can’t access your phone.

Bluetooth Hacking

This sort of attack has a low risk because many elements have to come together to make it possible. Any sort of wireless connection is vulnerable to hacking, including Bluetooth, but any weaknesses are quickly patched through security updates.

If a hacker is able to connect to your phone via Bluetooth, they can get access to the sensitive data on it. When this tactic succeeds, it’s usually also through social engineering. For example, they can trick you into pairing with their device by giving it a name like AirPods.

To your phone safe from Bluetooth hacking, it’s best to only keep your Bluetooth on when you’re using it and avoid pairing when you’re in public and in range of possibly malicious devices.