7 signs a smartphone has been hacked

This is a guest post by Sam Narisi. If you are interested to guest post in this blog, just head over to the Guest Post Guidelines.


As smartphones become more popular, more hackers are turning their attention to those mobile devices. Just as with computers, smartphones can be infected with viruses or spyware or otherwise be accessed by criminals to steal data or use the device for illegal means.

One big IT security challenge is that hackers specialize in conducting stealth attacks that go unnoticed. And, mobile security is still in its infancy and not all applications will be able to detect every type of attack. That means many smartphone users may have a device that’s been compromised without them even realizing it.

While the following symptoms can have a number of causes – including some legitimate apps – these are some potential warning signs that a smartphone has been hacked:

1. Suspicious items on the phone bill

One of the most common uses of mobile malware is to take control of a victim’s phone and use it to send text messages or make phone calls. Typically, the infected phone is made to automatically dial or message premium rate numbers. The victim’s phone bill is run up, and the criminals pocket the payments.

The scam often continues for a while as users fail to notice the calls or sent messages when they review their phone bill. That’s especially the case for company-issued smartphones – if a device is used for a lot of business calls, a few extra charges resulting from a malware infection might not stand out.

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2. Big changes in battery consumption

One of the biggest drains on a smartphone’s battery life is the use of Wi-Fi or a mobile data connection to send and receive information.

Therefore, a dramatic change in how much battery power a device uses is sometimes caused by the phone sending large amounts of data. It’s not always the case, but that might be because a virus is being used to transmit data from the device.

Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3. Big jumps in data use

Another way to tell if a phone has been transmitting an unusual amount of information is simply to check data usage stats from the wireless carrier.

However, users don’t often check their data usage unless they go over their monthly allotment and have to pay overage charges. But it might be a good idea to keep track and watch for sudden and significant changes.

4. Drained resources

When a virus is running in the background and sending data, it will use up a lot of the device’s processing power, RAM and other resources.

Many smartphones have tools that show how much of those resources are being used – a big change may be the result of a malware infection.

5. Strange GPS or Bluetooth use

Some mobile malware is used to track a victim’s physical location using the device’s GPS or Bluetooth functionality. Therefore, if a phone shows those connections are being used when not running an application that requires them, it could mean a virus is being used to transmit location data.

6. Unusual disruptions in service

In addition to stealing data off of a smartphone, hackers may compromise a device in order to listen in on phone calls. Those attempts may cause an unusual amount of dropped calls or service disruptions.

7. Significant slowdown in performance

Finally, as with an infected PC, one sign a smartphone may have been infected with malware or otherwise compromised by hackers is that the device just doesn’t run as well as it used to.

That – as with the other symptoms on this list – can be caused by a number of factors, including some legitimate applications. However, they can also be warning signs that a smartphone has been hacked.


It’s important that users are aware of what issues to look out for, so the issue can be investigated further if those problems are experienced.


About the Author: Sam Narisi writes about the latest business technology and IT news as editor in chief of IT Manager Daily.

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  1. Does the a virus or being hacked affect the phone’s battery life? really?
    Kristy Houston recently posted..Retro Gadgets: The Best Throwback TechMy Profile

  2. Christopher from Internet Security 101 says:

    Thank you for the excellent post. You have given some really good advice on how to tell if your smartphone has been hacked. It is pretty scary that someone can find out where you have been by hacking into your phone.

  3. Jane Doe

    I am sure my cellphone was and still is being hacked. I am novice at best in understanding the applications on my cell phone however someone downloaded a “Korean Keyboard” that shows a lot of use; I bought this phone NEW and never downloaded a “Korean Keyboard”. In addition, I have dis-enabled my GPS, WiFi and navigation features but I am still being physically followed. I have removed the battery thinking this might help. The largest usage of my cellphone battery says “standby calls”. I have Cricket for my service and they are unable to help me and say all they can do is re-set the phone. I am in litigation and suspect an Investigative Company for the Defendant is doing this. As well, my PC has also been hacked. Please tell me if there is a cellphone security specialist I can take my phone to in the Phoenix, Arizona area. My PC internet provider is Cox and they tell me to change my password often. I did so this morning and within 15 minutes tried to log into my email and my new password would not work. Please help me if you can and thank you for taking the time to read this and hopefully help me.

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