December 27, 2012

How to Tell if Your Phone Has Been Hacked

We all know that smart devices are pretty clever these days, but does your smartphone or tablet seem to have a mind of its own? If you suspect that it does, it may be infected with malware that can access your private information, secretly control your device and even steal your money through unauthorized charges to your phone bill.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to identify if your device is being overrun by malware:

1. Notice unfamiliar charges on your phone bill? A lot of us ask this question anyway, but it’s a good idea to regularly check the charges on your phone bill. Are there small but significant charges on it that you don’t recognize? Some malware is programmed to send paid SMS messages that get charged to your phone bill and deposited into the bank account of the malware writer.

2. Is your phone acting cray-cray? If your phone starts acting crazy, strangely opening and closing apps, or sending text messages by itself, your phone might be compromised. Malware is written to secretly control your device, and malicious apps have loose permissions that allow them to control more aspects of your device than it seems.

3. Is your battery draining extremely fast? Battery drain can be exacerbated by different factors like network settings or even a totally innocent app that’s just poorly coded. But because malware apps can run constantly in the background, it is inevitable that they will run down your battery much faster than normal.

If you answered yes to some or all of these questions, you should check if your phone has malware by scanning all the apps on your phone or tablet with Lookout Security + Antivirus. You can download Lookout for free from from Google Play. Lookout will tell you if there’s an app holding your phone hostage so you can delete it and get your phone back to normal. Problem solved!

Keeping your phone safe from malware is easy if you take the right precautions when downloading apps. Follow these simple tips to keep your mobile experiences safe and sound:

1. Keep the software on your device up to date. Malware writers design their malicious apps to take advantage of weaknesses in smart devices’ operating systems. By keeping the software on your phone or tablet current, you minimize your risk of being a victim of malware.

2. Be careful around third-party app stores. In the case of mobile apps, its always best to shop the big name brands, and stick with the Google Play Store, Apple App Store, and the Amazon.com app store. If you want to minimize risk of encountering malware, don’t download from random download sites you haven’t heard of before.

3. Be careful where you click. Some malware comes embedded in drive-by-download website links that automatically download a malicious app to your device without your prior approval. Safe Browsing in Lookout Premium will warn you of malicious sites.

4. Download a mobile security app to protect you. Downloading a security app, like Lookout, that has app and link scanning capabilities will help you be safer and better protected on your mobile device.

39 comments
  1. Carole says:

    So what do I do if I have Lookout Mobile Security Premium and I am getting symptoms like you describe?

  2. natalie says:

    Hi Carole, thanks for commenting. You can simply do a security scan using the Lookout App on your phone. If Lookout doesn’t find any malware, then your phone is safe. If it does find malware on your phone, it will give you directions on how to uninstall it.

  3. erica pierre says:

    my boyfriends phone has been hacked and all his pictures and contact are gone. he believes the person go into his lookout account. he would like to speak to someone from lookout. is there a phone number he can call at lookout.

  4. Jenna Kozel says:

    Erica, please contact support@lookout.com.

  5. Jim says:

    Hmm , I thought Lookout was the cats meow of droid protection but it seems that an app I downloaded (yes through the play store) allowed a mobile search app onto my phone and now the webpage I was viewing the other day just changed to something else . I could not back out of it either . This phone is way more trouble than either my windows phone or iphone ever was . Samsung S3

  6. Laura Mesa says:

    Hi Jim – Thanks for writing in to let us know. The app you downloaded sounds like it might have had that app hidden in there — can you tell me which one it was (the one you meant to download) and we can see if we’ve flagged it internally as adware or some other type of malware. I’d recommend removing both apps from your phone as quickly as possible and going into Lookout and asking it to do a security scan both before you uninstall and afterwards. If you want more help, please feel free to email us at support@lookout.com.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I recently downloaded an apk file off of sms-bomber’s site. Well lookout scanned it, nothing bad detected. Avast scanned it, and it found “a possible unwanted app” and I looked at the apps permissions but it just said it would access network and my connection as in Wi-Fi I guess, I’m not too savvy on what certain permissions do our mean. But it was still better than other downloaded app permissions so I downloaded it. I used it to bomb a friend’s phone with messages, and Avast shut it down, so I ran the app on Avast ” allow to run for 15 minutes ” button and the only thing I saw that was strange es that on the top of my android, I saw a constant flash of like a program trying to open them close. I couldn’t read the title in the drop down, but I could see the icon image. It was a gray rectangle, with a white border, and a blue squiggly line rubbing through it. What is that? So I run back to Avast and run a scan for everything, apps and files. It find the app, and said malware, I deleted it. Scanned again. Nothing. Shut my phone off, then power on. Same rectangular box and constant jittering. Run a scan and Avast finds a file and says malware. I delete it. I run lookout and it finds nothing. Avast is now saying all is clear. Am I safe? Or do I need to take another measure to ensure no one can look Saft me through my camera, because now I feel like pouring dock tape on my beautiful HTC one’s cameras. Please reply! I’ll add the websites link so your page can better look at what did. The file was their 1.1 version of sms- bomber.

    http://code.google.com/p/sms-bomber/downloads/detail?name=SMSBomber-v1.1.apk&can=2&q=

    Their website.

    I’ve checked my bank accounts and nothing wrong, so far. I’ll check other things just in case.

  8. Hey! Quick question that’s totally off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?
    My weblog looks weird when browsing from my iphone.
    I’m trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to correct this
    problem. If you have any suggestions, please share. Thank
    you!

  9. spryboyy says:

    Can lookout anti-virus work for Lumia 520 windows phone?; if not I hope there is any anti virus application software for windows phone

  10. Mark Cruz says:

    This is an old post, but I found some signs here, which shows my Android phone is hacked. I have learned by reading another blog post also, in which they have shown the 6 signs to know that an Android phone is hacked. Both yours and that blog helped me a lot and now I know that my phone has really been hacked. I read some signs here- http://bit.ly/1pEdSOS

  11. Meghan Kelly says:

    We only support Android and iOS.

  12. Aaron says:

    If someone tries to install a spy ware on my phone, will lookout catch it?

  13. vic a says:

    While playing wordfeud someone posted a pic of them of a pic I have on my phone. How did they do that, it’s creepy and I blocked them. But how do I keep it from happening again? I have an android

  14. sagnik says:

    I received a phone call at 4 am it felt strange since it was an unknown no after the phone call my cell actes wierdly and the craziness happened quite fast it took a screen shot of its ram and tge starte pausing and playing different songs was it hanged or was it hacked kindly answer should I block thw no as nobody is picking up no matter how much I try calling

  15. Jane says:

    I really would appreciate some help.

    My device was given to me by an ex, I believe it was his previously, or belonged to someone he knew. Basically, the phone was not new when I was given it.

    There is an app on my phone called “SuperUser” and have been informed that this is responsible for messages which keep flashing on my screen. These messages read “Shell has been granted superuser permissions”.

    I have been told all sorts of malicious stories, about spyware and hacking, and would just like to know the reality of what this is about. I have since rebooted the phone and the messages do not appear any more.

    Thank you.

  16. Jane says:

    p.s. my phone is a samsung galaxy 3

  17. What can I do If my phone was Compremized for years before in 06 through a relative that works at the bank. This is being done illegally through my basic phone how do i stop their illegal availabilities. I want to stop this today.

  18. hardy says:

    My chats and private pictures on different apps on my phone are been seen n read by someone who has started threatening me. has my phone been hacked into? what can I do?

  19. Terry Dubisky says:

    My boyfriend bought me a new phone . I feel like he may have had a spy app on it. It came via USPS. I researched these a ops, and it seems simple and inexpensive enough. How possible is this?

  20. Meghan Kelly says:

    Terry, if you have a security app such as Lookout installed, it should alert you to the presence of spyware or surveillanceware on the device.

    Hope that’s not the case!

  21. Meghan Kelly says:

    Yes! We detect spyware and alert users to its presence on their phones. Hope this helps.

  22. sahiru says:

    My fb app often closes by it’s own. And my battery drains too fast . Dunno wots wrong with my phone :-/

  23. Cat says:

    I believe my significant other has downloaded some form of a spying program. I know he has before as when I went through my files, I found it. This time however I think he downloaded a better one as I can’t find it. Will lookout be able to detect something of this sort?

  24. Meghan Kelly says:

    Hi Cat, Lookout does detect spyware and surveillanceware threats! If you’re worried it’s something we’re not catching please email support [at] lookout [dot] com and include the email address associated with your Lookout account.

  25. Juan says:

    My phone sometimes restarts itself when I am playing games or using facebook. Is it some type of malware or is it (my guess) too much for the CPU to handle. My phone is a Samsung Galaxy Light

  26. Teresa Olsen says:

    My phone has been acting funny and a couple weeks ago there are a bunch of numbers that just popped. Up over my toolbar. Then I had add pop up and said virus. Then for some time now I haven’t been able to get my passwords to work. I had ur app. Download. Then key lock security app. Pops up.
    I had some guy txting me on facebook.then he was just txting my phone. I don’t know how he got my number. He asked me for ssc # asked if he cld transfer money to my bankaccount.my username for facebook.of course I didn’t furnish any information. Could ur lookout find if anything was hacked?

  27. Meghan Kelly says:

    Hi Teresa, sorry to hear you’re having trouble. Would you please email our support team and include the email address associated with your Lookout account? support [at] lookout [dot] com

  28. Nolie says:

    My phone’s camera eye has been hacked into. I know who did it but i do not have proof. I believe a GPS device was put into my trunk. I left my phone home one time when I took a drive in my car. my husband said my phone was making noises while i was gone but i had no text messages & my e-mail was not up. I looked in my trunk, but I have a lot of stuff I store in my trunk so i could not find it. I believe I know who did this & I would like to know how to track down this person so I can prosecute. Also, I have had apps that immediately close after I open them .Also My data use is being used up much faster. 2 Gigs used to be plenty for me but now I keep using it up fast. I feel like i am being tortured & I cannot continue to put up with this.

  29. Jame says:

    I keep breaking up with my IT bf because I suspect he’s been secretly hacking into my devices. Photos are rearranged on my phone and after many minutes of not touching it I’ll unlock my phone that somehow directs me right to a picture of him. Thought nothing of it at first but it happend a few more times. He did tell me he hacks for a living but doesn’t do it often. We live 3,000 miles away and he never seems to usually ask what’s up or is very curious of what I do. He also is very adamant about security himself. Uses a lot of it for his home and never saves pictures I send of me to his phone. Just puts them on his computer. Not sure what to believe but knowing he’ll probably never fess up I ended our relationship. Just how does my phone while it’s off go right to my albums, not even the first one, and direct me right to his picture? THREE TIMES I guess I’ll never know. Probably since this gut feeling is so strong, I’ll probably have to get a new phone to make the suspicious go away. Or does all he need is my phone number to get in? Not sure how he did this. I wish I had the answers.

  30. Jose says:

    Do hackers need spyware to access your phone

  31. jordan says:

    Hi, my name is jordan and I believe some one has been remotely controlling my phone for almost a yeaR! It would swipe on its own, noise coming from it, when I put it in sleep mode the screen comes back on as though still active. They have actually used and downloaded apps onto my phone! Apps such as snapchat,snap chat third party apps, kik, badoo, spyware etc and I tried over and ober to delete them but they just kept coming back. My emails were all compromised and I no longer have a yahoo account as they deleted it from my own device! Pictures, bank information, personnal details have all been used. They set up a dating accou t in my own name and spent money from my bank account on it! Can anyone help me with this and i didnt even believe it to b3 possible!!

  32. jordan says:

    Hi, my phone is being remotely controlled. They have access to all my apps and all my personal data and bank accounts. IVe seen my phone move on its own. The screen is constsntly active snd they have completely compromised my emails, photos personal data, eveyrthing. What do I do!

  33. Meghan Kelly says:

    Hi Jordan, please reach out to our customer support team. Hopefully they can help figure out what’s going on here. support [at] lookout [dot] com

  34. anthony says:

    hi my name is amp i left my phone in a coworkers car and now he tells me what all my texts say,my recent location and all how can i stop this?

  35. liz says:

    If I get a text that has a little blue rectangle next to persons name, can that b an indication of hacking? How can I check if a particular person hacked me or is intercepting my texts

  36. kat says:

    Is the lookout app free? My phone has been acting cray cray and I want to scan it. But i dont want to pay to download an app because ill have to enter my card info. Which obviously if its been hacked I want to avoid.

  37. Meghan Kelly says:

    Hi Kat — yes! We have a free version of our app! You can download for iOS or Android here: https://www.lookout.com/download

  38. norr says:

    Hi there, do you think I should download Lookout on IOS also (Iphone) or theres no need for it as it should be secure enough? (is it only for Android or recommended for IOS also?)

  39. Meghan Kelly says:

    Hi there, we have an iOS product and, of course, we do recommend iOS users consider security as well! No platform is perfect.

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