How to fix a hacked Android phone?

You might wonder why even discuss this topic? It does not seem relevant to me, right? We can not emphasize enough the alarming rate at which the usage of this article is increasing. Let us see a few disturbing stats to understand the severity of this topic. Did you know that thousands of malicious mobile apps are blocked on the play store every single day? Every second phone call you receive is a scam! The most targeted mobile platform by hackers is Android. Hope now we understand the extent of it and realize that none of us are untouched. We are all at risk every time. Therefore, whenever this unfortunate incident does happen to us, follow the guide below on how to fix a hacked Android phone to save yourself.

What is hacking and how is it done?

Hacking is a type of cybercrime to gain unauthorized access to a system compromising digital devices like computers, laptops, or mobile phones and causing a data breach or simply privacy violation. However, hacking is not always done with malicious intent. Sometimes, big companies hire white-hat hackers to explore any vulnerabilities in their systems and inform them so that they can enhance their security. But, if you are not aware of you have not asked someone to do it, then it sure is a crime. 

Just like no one can enter our house until we open a door or a window. Similarly, hackers can not enter our digital space till we open some way for them. Let us discuss what these ways are a little bit before getting into fixing them.

How to fix a hacked Android phone?
How to fix a hacked Android phone?

Downloading a malicious app

There are millions of apps available online and thousands of them are corrupt or malicious so you have to be extremely cautious of what you click on and download. Once you download an application on your phone and allow it some basic permissions you have invited trouble for yourself. It is analogous to downloading malware on your system and giving it permission to do whatever it wants.  A few things to keep in mind are downloading apps from trusted sources only like the google play store, Checking the ratings and reviews of the application, Checking the number of downloads, etc. Only if all these parameters are checked, proceed to download it on your phone.

Clicking on a malicious link

At least once in our lifetime, all of us have received messages or emails informing us that we have won a lottery and the next step is to click on some link and confirm. Never Never Never ever click on such links. One must generally keep in mind to not click on anything that comes from an unknown sender as it might be malware. Usually, these phishing emails come from weird email IDs and are very generic like “Dear User”. If you really did win a lottery then would they not even know your name? So as a general best practice, do not click on suspicious links online or the ones you receive via emails or messages.

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Using unsecured public wifi

The network is another route by which someone can enter your phone without notice. And by connecting to unsecured public wifi you gladly open that door wide open. Try to keep your connections secured and avoid using open wifi in public places. You can also use a VPN for an extra layer of security.

How to identify if your phone is hacked?

In the previous section, we understood the various ways by which we assist hackers to get into our systems and what we should do to avoid it. Even then there is a possibility that a hacker might be able to explore some vulnerability and get into our system without us knowing. In such cases, the need of the hour is to identify if the phone is hacked or not. Early detection can help you take action without a lot of damage. Below are a few ways by which one can identify if a device is hacked.

  • Weird pop-ups on the screen. These might include X-rated adult content or inappropriate flashy advertisements.
  • The phone slows down and starts to hang a lot. It might also show signs of overheating.
  • You might see phone calls or messages on your phone which were not made by you.
  • A sudden increase in data usage which you do not recognize. If you download multiple movies, you would expect a rise in data usage but be alert when you are not aware.
  • You notice apps downloaded on your phone but do not recollect downloading them yourself.
  • The battery drains very quickly. You charge your phone in the morning and by afternoon you see that it has reduced faster than usual.
  • Your phone might behave suspiciously and switch on and off on its own.

If you notice any of the signs above, it is an alarm that you should get extremely watchful and start taking action immediately. This might not necessarily mean that the phone is hacked, sometimes it might just be a cache issue, battery issue, and so on but you must not ignore it at any cost. In the following sections, we are going to discuss what must be done if the above signs hold true and you suspect that your phone might be hacked.

How to fix a hacked Android phone?

Coming to our main topic of discussion, let us find out the solutions in detail to fix a hacked phone. Firstly, do not panic because that will lead you nowhere, and start planning your next course of action smartly. There are multiple things that can be done and I am going to mention each one in depth. So, keep reading!

Inform all your contacts

This should be your first step towards damage control because if your phone is hacked there is a good chance that the hacker might pretend to be you and send some emails or messages on your behalf with malicious links. Your contacts might trust it’s you and click on those and get infected. Request all your contacts to strictly not click on anything they receive from you until further notice. This way you can restrict the hacker within the boundaries of your phone and limit the damage.

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Delete suspicious apps

The next step is to go ahead and uninstall any unused or suspicious app from your phone. If you do not remember downloading an app, go ahead and delete it. Some hackers might be smart enough to hide a malicious application and not make it visible on the home screen directly. In such cases, follow the below steps:

  • Click on Settings
  • Go to “Apps”
  • Scroll down and examine each app individually
  • If you find an unknown app listed here then click on it.
  • On the next screen at the bottom, you will see an option to “uninstall” the application. Click on it and confirm.
  • After deleting all unused and unknown apps, re-check the list again and make sure there is nothing left.

Run antivirus software to fix hacked android phone

Now, move on to the next step and run an antivirus scan. This software helps identifies and remove any malware or virus that might be in the system. These malware or viruses can come in the form of a corrupted file or app. As a general best practice, it is advisable to run antivirus software regularly to block the entry of any corrupted item and protect your phone. A few of the most popular antivirus software are AVG Security & Virus Cleaner, McAfee Security, Kaspersky security and VPN, etc. If you have not done it already then follow the below steps:

  • Go to Google play store and search “antivirus”.
anti-virus
  • Download and install any one of the popular antivirus software of your choice.
  • Sign-up if needed and allow permissions to the app to scan your entire phone.
  • Once the scanning completes, it will display a list of threats or corrupted files found.
  • Allow the antivirus application to resolve or quarantine any malicious file and delete any harmful app.

Reboot or Reset your phone

A lot of the most difficult problem statements have the most simple answers. Similarly, many times a simple reboot of your phone helps resolve complicated issues. Reboot simply means restarting the device and I am sure we are all aware of it but for the sake of this article let me guide you through it:

  • Long press the power button till you see the options to switch off or restart your phone.
  • Click on “Restart” and let it happen.
restart
  • Once your phone comes up, validate for some time if the issue is fixed.
  • If it is, then congratulations! But if not then read ahead.
  • Your next resort is a “Factory Reset”. Please note that you will lose all your data after the reset and so, it is advisable to first take a backup of it.
  • Go to Settings and click on “General Management”
General Management
  • Next, click on “Reset” then find the “Factory data reset” option and click on it.
How to fix a hacked Android phone-reset
  • Scroll down and click on “Reset”.
  • This process will take some time as it will clear all your data and restore all the settings to default.
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Change all passwords

There is a very good chance that if a hacker entered your system, they will be able to access all your saved passwords very easily. Therefore, it is highly recommended to immediately change all your passwords for Facebook, Instagram, Banking apps, Google, Microsoft, and so on. This might be a tedious task but of utmost importance to secure your accounts. Another piece of advice is to set up 2-factor authentication for added security. It is recommended not to save passwords but instead use a strongly encrypted password vault to keep all your passwords safe and secure without having to remember each of them.

Disable call forwarding and spam notifications

This might not necessarily be a threat as such but can be misused if a malicious entity enters your system. They can divert or forward any calls or messages anywhere without you getting to know therefore it is better to keep this option turned off. Similarly, spam notifications might accidentally have you clicking on some malicious website so it is better to disable them by long pressing on the notification and clicking on disable.

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Conclusion 

It is a very tough and stressful time if your phone gets hacked. The sense of being exposed and not knowing the extent of damage can cause a lot of anxiety and discomfort. So it is always better to be alert and not let such things happen at all. There are a few simple tips to follow to mitigate all these mishaps and the distress it causes. Always keep your phone updated with the latest software update and security patches. Run anti-malware software on your phone and scan regularly.

Be vigilant and take any weird behavior on your phone seriously. Turn off Bluetooth when not in use and do not ever connect to unsecured WiFi. Lastly, avoid storing important information and passwords on your phone. You may use a secured password-protected vault instead. I hope you never find yourself in a hacked phone situation but if you do, I hope this guide on how to fix a hacked Android phone helps. Stay safe!

FAQs

Who can hack my phone?

Well, anybody you allow can easily do it. If you click or download any dangerous app or file on your phone, any stranger can get access and do it. 

Why would somebody target me?

There is no particular reason. Everybody who has a phone or is on the internet is exposed and can be a target. Sometimes, you might be an indirect target where you just are in the contact list of a direct victim and click on something sent by them (the hacker).

I did not click on any link but my phone still got hacked. How?

It is highly unlikely that without any assistance from you a hacker enters your digital space. Keeping easy to guess passwords, sharing passwords with people, rooting your phone, connecting to unsecured wifi. There are multiple vulnerabilities a hacker can explore.

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