Every cellphone user should take the phone tapping seriously. This activity is also known as phone monitoring, and it threatens users’ data. It does so by taking unnecessary charges onto usual phone bills and potentially costing the user’s identity.
Most people keep a sensitive information on their cell phones, from passwords to photos. Some have more valuable information than others on their mobile devices, but hackers can cause lots of harm with little data. The results of any data which falls into the wrong hands can be disastrous.
How to Tell if Your Phone Is Tapped
Here are some warning signs that may indicate that your smartphone is tapped:
Phone Bills Skyrocket: Phone data usage increases when someone taps into a cellphone. You may not notice this uptick until you receive their monthly phone bill. Most of the time, higher-than-usual charges for talk and text may show someone else has been using the data.
You should also monitor data usage and contact the phone company as soon as possible to receive clarification on the additional costs.
Fast Battery Drainage: The hacked phone uses a lot of battery power. A quicker drain in battery life might mean a phone is being hacked. However, the following activities can also be culprits for poor battery life:
- Constant high brightness
- Not updating apps
- Using non-MFi charger cables
- Frequent push notifications
- Failure to completely close apps
Therefore, battery drainage is suspicious behavior, but it is not enough to determine if a hacker has tapped a phone.
High Phone Temperatures: A standard cell phone’s temperature is between 0 and 35 degrees Celsius. So, when it goes over 35 degrees, it overheats. However, high phone temperatures alone should not raise too much suspicion, similar to a draining battery. But, in tandem with other strange behaviors, it could mean trouble. Spyware apps can also cause a cell phone to overheat.
Streamers and gamers may be familiar with an overheating device. One of these activities could still be the culprit for a high phone temperature. Moreover, even using a phone with a poor signal can cause it to overheat.
So, we can say that an inexplicable high phone temperature is a solid reason to look into phone-tapping software after considering all other possibilities.
Unusual Pop-Up Ads Appear, Online and Offline: A common sign of a tapped cell phone is unnecessary advertisements. Pop-up ads will appear on the phone screen, when the user is browsing the web. Ads can appear anywhere onscreen, and the content may be spammy or not, but you should never follow the ad to find out if it is real.
Users who experience these pop-ups may have inadvertently downloaded adware onto their phones. These applications display insistent advertising materials without the user’s consent, generating profit for its developers.
Malicious software is more common for Android users than iPhone users. However, both smartphones are vulnerable. For that, you can download the ad blockers tool, which should minimize the issue.
It is also important to remember that even if a hacker’s goal is only to earn money from pop-up ads, they can still access sensitive data. Plus, the adware can interfere with a phone’s ability to function.
Random or Fake Apps Install:
You should keep a good inventory of the apps on your cellphone and track any changes. It will be easy to spot a random or fake app that appears on the home screen. Android and iPhone users are susceptible to finding random apps on their mobile devices.
Adware and spyware can masquerade as an unassuming app, which may even have a name or logo similar to popular social media apps, so the user does not think twice about it. So, when users “update” these apps, they download adware or spyware onto the phone. It is wise to look through a phone’s apps now and then to ensure there are no fake or suspicious-looking applications.
Strange Noises: A tapped cellphone may emit a strange noise, especially on a phone call. The same behavior applies to landline phones.
A monitored phone could may one of the following low sounds:
- Pulsating tones
- High-pitched beep
Alarming background noise is not limited to these tones. However, remember that strange noises may pop up anytime, especially when connecting from a cell to a landline. Still, if the sound remains consistent through phone calls or while the phone is at rest, someone may listen to sensitive conversations.
Unusual Messages and Notifications: Unusual messages can sometimes indicate adware or spyware, but not always. However, they can lead to future issues. One notification will tell Android and iPhone users that their phone has a virus. It mostly occurs while browsing the web. If this is the case, you should immediately close the browser window to prevent malware installation.
Strange text messages from various messaging apps can also occur, and they may indicate more of an issue. The texts may include unfamiliar links. Do not click these links and delete the messages. These notification messages can prove dangerous as hackers may have a user’s information if these texts become incessant.
Mainstream Websites Look Unfamiliar: A tapped phone carrier will have issues connecting with different websites. The malware intercepts the connection, so websites may appear different while scrolling on a mobile browser.
Sometimes, browsers also present fake landing pages for a website. Other times, it will show users what it believes they want to see. Using a private browser may solve the issue.
As malware is in the cell phone, apps like Firefox Focus and Tor Browser with VPN will not adequately connect to websites. The proxy software will distort all web pages and can display fake versions of actual sites, including social media platforms.
Overall Behavioral Issues: In addition to the above-given problems, a tapped phone can experience many performance issues. It can take a long time to turn on, or there may be unusual delays when unlocking the phone or opening apps.
It may also be slower to load web pages and refresh social media, even with a strong WiFi connection. You may notice a slower performance when recording audio and video or using GPS. Phone call connection and text message speed may also suffer.
Downloading Third-Party Applications: Smartphone users typically purchase apps from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. Some apps are available through third-party sources but include certain risks and limitations.
You can get infected with malware by downloading these apps. A phone undergoing any behavioral changes above that also has a third-party app installed may have a tap. So, better avoid third-party apps by searching for similar services through more reliable apps or websites. Delete any third-party apps already on the phone.
What Are the Ways to Prevent Your Phone from Being Tapped?
Anyone can become a victim of phone tapping, but users can protect their information by being proactive and preventing the issue. Keeping a phone in airplane mode prevents tappers from infiltrating your OS. Some people with especially sensitive data on their mobile devices keep them in airplane mode when they are not using them.
However, this method is not sustainable for every phone user.
You should use the following ways to avoid phone tapping.
Method 1: Look Through the Cell Phone Apps
The best way to clear unwanted and fake cell phone apps is to look through the list of apps on the phone. Your phone settings will display every app on the phone and show which uses the most data in storage settings.
Method 2: Turn on “Safe Mode”
“Safe Mode” also prevents malware from third-party apps from working. Accessing “safe mode” is different for every device.
Here are steps to turn on Safe Mode for Android:
Step 1) Hold the phone’s power button.
Step 2) Hold the power logo on the touchscreen.
Step 3) The pop-up will ask if the user wants to “reboot to safe mode.”
Step 4) Click “OK.”
Method 3: Antivirus Applications
Antivirus software can prevent malware and adware from infiltrating a phone’s software. Additionally, some stronger programs can remove pre-existing viruses and malicious software.
Try one of the following antivirus apps for cell phones:
- Avast Antivirus & Security
- Norton 360
- AVG AntiVirus
Download one of these malware apps and follow the set-up instructions.
Method 4: Change All Passwords
There is no harm in changing important passwords every few months. Banking app passwords, social media login information, and phone passcodes should not stay the same for years.
While having the same password for multiple accounts may be convenient, it is not the smartest idea. A hacker only needs one password to access all your accounts, all of which might have an important record and information.
Method 5: Do Not Allow the Phone to Install Apps From Unknown Sources
Some third-party downloads threaten a phone’s security.
To avoid malware, prevent a phone from downloading applications from unknown sources with the following steps:
Step 1) Go to “Settings.”
Step 2) Click on “Security.”
Step 3) Disable “Unknown sources.”
Method 6: Dial Codes
Users can dial specific codes to determine if someone is tracking their information or intercepting their messages and phone calls.
It is simple to instantly detect malware by dialing one of the following codes:
- *#06#: Check on an IMEI number
- *#62#: Determine if malware is blocking calls
- *#21#: Determine if malware is diverting calls or messages
Method 7: Factory Reset
A factory reset is also an ideal way to refresh a device’s software. It completely resets the iPhone, erasing all data that the phone did not include upon purchase. Hopefully, it will rid the iPhone of applications that install adware or malware.
To perform a factory reset on an iPhone, take the following steps:
Step 1) Go to “Settings.”
Step 2) Click “General.”
Step 3) Click “Transfer or reset iPhone.”
Step 4) Click “Get started.”
Step 5) Following the instructions on the screen.
Here are steps on preventing and dealing with a phone tracking or tap:
- Remove the battery: Hackers cannot connect to a cell phone without a battery. So, if you suspect someone may have tapped their phone, then you should immediately remove the battery and contact a tech professional.
- Create different passwords: You should not have the same password for two or more accounts. A variety of passwords will make it difficult for hackers to access every account, which is important with social media and banking.
- Disable GPS: Disable a smartphone’s location services when not using the GPS. It becomes easier and more problematic to tap a phone when the location services are OFF.
- Disable Bluetooth: A phone tap can start with a simple Bluetooth connection. Users should turn off Bluetooth when it is not in use to avoid connecting with ill-intentioned people. So, If unfamiliar connection requests pop up, decline them.
- Consult a professional: No one knows better than professionals. Technology experts will be able to identify the exact type of phone tap and work to fix the problem, whether that means completely resetting the phone, deleting the malware, or changing the information from top to bottom.
- Do not fix the issue by clicking on pop-ups, as this will likely only aggravate the problem. Bring the phone into Microsoft or the Apple Store and explain the issues to the Genius Bar. Users who fear their personal banking information is at risk should immediately call their bank to disable their card and dispute fraudulent charges.
Data is the most precious commodity, especially as society dives headlong into the tech-driven future. A phone that behaves strangely can cause alarm, given the recent uptick in phone monitors.
Some hackers wish to make money from ad revenue, while others have more malicious intents with a user’s personal information. Therefore, it is important to protect sensitive data by preventing a phone tap. Always consult a technology expert about any uncertainties regarding phone taps.