What do hackers do with your phone?

What would a hacker want from a mobile and why security measures are so important.

As you pat down all your pockets and recheck your bag 3 times looking for your phone it can be a horrible thought that you have actually in fact misplaced your phone. A rush of questions fire through your head. Has someone taken it? Would they access my email? Would they see my photos? Or more importantly ‘Will anyone notice me going silent in my Love Island WhatsApp group?!

Due to the fact you will no doubt have all sorts of personal details on your device – which could potentially open you up to identity theft – it’s a good idea to take some preventative measures just in case your phone ends up in someone else’s pocket. Moreover, with more and more authentication and digital wallets requiring our phones, no wonder they are in even higher demand from the pocket thief.

Although it may seem obvious, thieves will strike when opportunities are given to them on a plate such as leaving your phone unattended in a pub or restaurant. Simply keeping it out of sight and not leaving it half sticking out of your back pocket is a great start but there’s still more that you can do.

Once your phone is taken (and assuming it has a screen lock on it) the person who collates all the stolen phones will come across their first hurdle in trying to crack the code. Now this can be done in a couple of ways but to keep this data locked it is a good idea not to use any date of birth, phone number or otherwise any number affiliated with you. I stress this but please remember that a decent hacker will try such numbers that could be found out about you in simple open source research ie Facebook/Google/Twitter. The hacker could also use third party hardware sold on the dark web in order to try and brute force entry to the device. However, there are still further ways to remove passcodes to gain entry, especially for older models of phones and operating systems.

Before the hacker wants decides to sell the phone for parts, they will try and get into the software. If your device still can’t be accessed by the thief or it has ‘find my phone’ enabled, the hacker will then need your Apple iCloud password to turn this off in order to wipe it and sell it on. However, this proves slightly more of a challenge for the average thief.


Within a few days of your phone being taken the most important thing to remember is to be vigilant to phishing attacks purporting to be from Apple or Google.

The experienced attacker will try to manipulate you to give this password up by spoofing an email or SMS from “Apple” notifying you that your device has been located. Eagerly wanting your phone back, you click on the link and input your iCloud credentials, which is then used to unlock the stolen device – all the while thinking that there’s no need to buy a new phone!

These faked websites look just like the genuine article and are usually very different to spot the difference. Such tell tale signs usually lie in the web address but they are usually decent looking sites with little else to hang on.

As soon as the attackers get access to the iCloud they can simply unlock the device, view all your content, or more commonly wipe the device for resale.


Screen locks are more important than ever. At the bare minimum you should go for a four-digit PIN, but going for a 6 digit password or better still, one that requires both letters and digits is even safer.

Never respond to any email that purports to be from genuine company when asking for you to input sensitive or personal data. This crime works on timing as the victim is half expecting for their device to be located online by either the police or Apple. This is sadly the case.


Finally it goes without saying. Backup your most precious data – and if you want to keep or transfer your passwords and health data, then make an encrypted backup too . A hard copy of your phone copied to your home computer is an excellent way of diverting that all too familiar pain of losing your holiday snaps or worse still photos of your children. I have far too frequently spoken with parents who have lost a great deal of fond moments to theft, phone glitches or simply dropping their devices.

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