Cell phone hacking does occur, but not as frequently as computer hacking. Hacking is the intent to load viruses or spyware, obtain passwords or personal information, or cause general electronic mayhem. Find out more about what cell phone hacking is and how to protect yourself against it.
What Can Mobile Phone Hacking Accomplish?
What could be on your cell phone that a hacker wants? Maybe a hacker is just curious and wants to see those text messages or view some of your pictures. But that's not all.
- GPS: Since many cell phones have a GPS chip embedded within the phone, a hacker can possibly determine your location. This in turn lets them find out places you go, like home or work.
- Voicemail: It may seem impossible at first, but when you find out how, you'll see that just about anyone can do it. Hackers use what's called "spoofing" to make a call to your wireless provider to access voicemail and other functions. The providers allow a cell phone user to use what's called a "skip passcode" option that lets someone bypass the passcode entry to get to all kinds of functions like checking your voicemail. Hackers dial in and spoof your phone, which means they trick the automated system into thinking it's your phone, which is the safest way to call in anyway. They can change your passcode, listen to you voicemail and even add additional services to your contract.
- Contact List: A hacker can obtain and download all your contacts. In 2005, for example, Paris Hilton's phone was hacked and all her contacts stolen. People on her contact list received prank calls for months afterwards.
- Getting general personal information: Text messages, pictures, video: they are all vulnerable to getting stolen if cell phone hacking happens. This is akin to spyware stealing your passwords on your computer or a hacker seeking out all your private stuff in those folders you thought you had hidden away well.
- Speakerphone or Spycam: A truly inventive hacker may hijack your phone in order to use the camera or speakerphone to spy visually and audibly.
Protect Yourself Against Hacking
Installing internet security applications and learning how to recognize the sounds that you may have been hacked - or are at risk for hacking - are the two best ways to protect yourself against this problem.
Internet Security Applications
It is possible to stop cell phone hacking. The best way to protect yourself is to install quality firewall and anti-virus applications onto your phone. A few examples of applications that you may want to consider include:
- Call Firewall: A freeware firewall app for Windows Phones that automatically rejects calls from people not in your contact list
- DroidWall: A no-cost firewall application designed for the Android operating system
- AppShield: An Android application that is similar to a firewall but does not require root access; it protects information from spyware
- WebRoot Mobile Security: Powerful app designed for Android that provides antivirus and identity protection as well as Internet security
- Firewall iP: A powerful firewall application for iPhone and iPod touch that blocks outgoing connections unless explicitly allowed by you
- Kaspersky Mobile Security: Powerful protection for smartphones; available for Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Symbian
These are not the only available security apps. Check with your provider for recommendations regarding what you should use.
Recognizing the Signs of Hacking
A couple of obvious signs should help you determine if you are being hacked.
- Does someone want to sync with you via Bluetooth? Since you have to accept the pairing, you can always decline if you don't know the phone number or device. Never accept a sync request unless you are sure who is asking and you are certain the person making the request is trustworthy.
- If your phone consistently locks up, a virus program may be installed on your computer. If you have a smartphone, then you just need to hook it up to a computer and have your virus program scan it, since most programs include a cell phone scan feature or at least offer one as an additional purchase.
- Does your cell phone perform weird functions like your phone locking the keypad even though you have that turned off? Again, the phone may have a virus on it.
What to Do if You Think You Have Been Hacked
If you think you've been hacked, remove the battery and take it the nearest store of your provider so an authorized representative can determine if the phone has been hacked. The provider can take the necessary steps to eliminate the issue.