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.

8 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.

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