Cybercriminals can hack your phone in multiple ways, and one of the most popular tactics is through text messages. Gaining access to your phone can be an easy target for threat actors. After all, your smartphone contains valuable information hackers want to get their hands on, including your email address, passwords, location, and banking information.
As cybercriminals continue to develop more sophisticated social engineering tactics to steal your data, it’s understandable that people begin to wonder if someone can hack their phone by texting them. With cybersecurity threats like spyware, keyloggers, and hackers being able to control a device remotely, getting a suspicious SMS can raise some alarms.
Fortunately, simply getting a malicious text doesn’t mean hackers will start plundering your hard-earned cash. That said, it’s good practice to stay cautious about phishing attempts.
How can someone hack my phone by text?
An easy method for hackers to plague your device with nasty malware is by disguising themselves as an official, well-known entity. This is known as phishing, as it lures potential victims into forking over their private information or simply clicking a link. While email phishing attacks are common, text messages from fake companies also happen frequently.
These spam messages can catch phone users off guard if they aren’t paying attention. It could be a message from your phone provider asking for your credit card details for a “free iPhone upgrade,” a known courier service that sent a link to track a package you aren’t expecting, or your bank warning you to change your credentials due to a recent hack.
However, the main factor for any malicious text sent is that the user needs to act for a hack to occur. This can be responding to a text with your personal information or clicking on an unsafe link. With this in mind, while someone can technically hack your phone via text, it depends if you fall victim to the attacker’s social engineering tricks.
Interestingly, a report from tech site Wired notes that, at least at one point, hackers could break into your smartphone with just a text. This was due to Google Project Zero researcher Natalie Silvanovich finding vulnerabilities in Apple’s iOS Message app, which contained multiple “interaction-less” bugs, allowing threat actors to execute a code without the iPhone user having to do anything. This incident happened in 2019, and the bugs have since been patched. Knowing this, it’s a good idea to keep your smartphone’s operating system up to date.
What can happen if my phone is hacked?
Cybercriminals use sneaky methods to steal private data right under your nose, leaving you unaware if your phone is hacked.
Otherwise known as keylogging or keyboard capturing, keystroke logging captures and creates records of whatever you type. The malicious software can hide on your device and send data it collects to the threat actor operating the logging program. This method is typically used to capture your private credentials, like passwords to various accounts, and give attackers access to your data.
Spyware is a form of malware that can spy on your device’s activity. It can be downloaded through a dodgy app or link that’s otherwise disguised as harmless. Spyware can track different types of actions, such as the sites you visit, the apps you use, and the people you contact. What’s more, it can view login details for whatever it tracks.
Whatever method an attacker may use, it comes down to stealing your personal information and banking details. It’s difficult to notice these forms of malicious programs, but there are a few indicators.
How can I find out if my phone has been hacked?
Your phone could be behaving strangely if it’s been hacked. Your smartphone is acting slower than usual, like apps taking a while to open or close randomly, or its battery needs to be draining too fast. This is because malicious software can take up processing power and use your phone’s resources. Furthermore, you may also notice an unfamiliar app that’s downloaded on your phone.
Using antivirus software on your phone is a good idea to stay clear of any virus, malware, or other nasty programs that can ruin your phone. To protect yourself, check out how to choose the best antivirus software.
Use antivirus software to block phone hacks
The best way to stop anyone trying to hack your phone through texts is to use the best antivirus software.
There are many free malware removal apps that will dispatch malicious software on your device, but it’s a good idea to make sure these tools are trustworthy, as hackers can also disguise these apps on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store to deploy even more malware.
The best antivirus apps come with a suite of security features that can get rid of virus, malware, ransomware, spyware or any malicious software that burrows into your smartphone. Some antivirus software, such as Bitdefender, offers security subscriptions specifically for Android, making it a more cost-effective option for those that only need specific device protection.
We also recommend free apps from known cybersecurity companies, including Avast One, AVG and Malwarebytes Mobile Security. These will detect and remove malicious software. Check out our thoughts on each antivirus below.
Best antivirus to stop viruses and malware
1. Norton 360 🥇From $19.99/year
Best overall antivirus of 2023
“Norton” and “antivirus” are synonymous these days, as the well-established cybersecurity brand has successfully fought against malware, viruses and nasty software threats since 1990.
Norton 360 offers excellent antivirus protection and extra features that make for a valuable, all-in-one security product. Its Norton 360 Deluxe and Premium package may cost a pretty penny. Still, with security across multiple platforms, a full-blown VPN, Dark Web Monitoring, Parental Controls and more, it will have a household free of cyber threats.
Norton’s certainty of its antivirus software’s capabilities is clearly defined by the brand’s 100% Virus Protection Promise. If a device protected by Norton 360 can’t get rid of a virus, the user receives their money back. It’s a big claim, but unquestionably, no one should expect to get that refund.
If you have the money for it, you can also check out the premium Norton 360 Platinum package for even more online protection, including from identity theft. Without a doubt one of the best antivirus to get.
Read our full Norton 360 review
2. Bitdefender 🥈 From $19.99/year
Best security features and tools
Bitdefender takes the spot as best antivirus, and for good reason. It’s not enough that it boasts near-perfect lab test scores across the board, as it goes the extra mile by giving users access to a plethora of advanced security features.
Bitdefender goes above and beyond in the features department, all while keeping known malware, ransomware, and viruses at bay. It will defend your device against new attacks, provide security for online transactions, keep you safe with a reliable VPN, and protect your accounts with a password manager.
It’s a no-brainer when it comes to defending your devices against virtually any form of cyberattack, and its top-notch protection extends to its most affordable package, too. Protecting your PC and smartphone, from Windows and macOS to iOS and Android, is becoming even more necessary, and Bitdefender is the tricked-out shield you need.
Read our full Bitdefender review
3. Avast One 🙌 From $39.99/year
Best antivirus for beginners + free plan available!
With Avast One, you can protect your device from viruses, malware and ransomware for free. That’s right, and you don’t have to pay a dime for the extra security features the antivirus throws in, including its VPN, firewall and more.
Avast One will safeguard your device from malware, comes with ransomware protection, blocks harmful websites and downloads from the web, scans your emails for malicious attachments, stops hackers from infiltrating your device through Wi-Fi with a firewall – the list goes on. That’s a lot of tools for software that’s free, and the included VPN and the ability to speed up your PC are a welcome bonus.
It’s the ideal antivirus software for home use, as it takes the hassle out of staying wary of cyber threats lurking around, even if you’re not a tech whizz. What’s more, if you are looking for added precautions, its paid Individual and Family packages still boast great value. Hard to go wrong with this best antivirus.
Read our full Avast One review
4. AVG👍 From 4.99/month
Best antivirus for multiple devices + free plan available!
You can never go wrong with free antivirus protection, but some deliver even better detection and protection rates, along with extra security features, without costing a dime. This is where AVG antivirus shines.
AVG provides reliable protection and only a small impact on performance for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. It safeguards your devices against malware, viruses and zero-day exploits, along with blocking malicious links and attachments in emails. Throw in phishing protection when surfing the internet and extra security features such as its SafePrice browser extension and Network Inspector, and you’ve got yourself a do-it-all antivirus.
Sure, you can find all of these perks with Avast, but if you like a slick, darker user interface that’s easy to navigate, then AVG is for you.
Read our full AVG Antivirus review