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 someone can hack your 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 your 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.
Find out if your 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.