The term ‘Hacking’ has both bad as well as a good influence — from Ethical Hacking, also known as penetration testing, to Black Hat hacking, in which every smart device can be hacked and used for malicious purposes. Featured phones with Symbian Operating System to smartphones with Android and iOS Operating System can be hacked and this is no longer a secret due to the increasing rate of articles and video over the Internet. Almost any person with no prior knowledge can actually hack devices by reading such step by step articles and by watching videos. Let’s discuss some points or ways via which a phone can get hacked. We will have a look at all major Operating Systems including iOS and Android.
Truth behind spy Applications
Both Android and iOS Operating Systems have their very own spy applications for their respective platforms. These applications can access your contacts, camera, files, microphone, and messages from WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and even applications like Hike. Hacker can actually watch live from the front and back camera thus invading user’s privacy i.e. leaking your private pictures and videos. These applications can also modify files and send the same. Location tracking is one of the major selling points for such spyware application and thus blackmailing and other physical threats can also be possible. Reading SMS is not a big deal for such application and thus, WhatsApp and other social media verification is not a big thing for such applications. OTP i.e. banking onetime passwords, internet banking passwords can also be invaded and used for malicious purpose leading to financial scams. Imagine your confidential meetings and private audio recordings of conversation being recorded and sent remotely to hackers sitting in remote part of the world.
These spyware applications are actually parental control application i.e. they are used to spy for detecting extramarital affairs by husband and wives and even monitor children’s activity. Even used by some companies to spy and monitor employee activities and to win business wars to spy on rivals.
A major reason behind any common exploitation is human error and unknown source plays a big role in human errors since the user tends to enable unknown sources to install an application from third party websites i.e. sources other than Play Store. The users download the beta version of an application and install APKs which require unknown sources to be enabled. These APKs can be modified and thus can later become the reason for the user’s phone getting hacked. It is advised to disable unknown sources and install applications from Play Store and avoid third-party installations.
Generally, teens tend to enable USB debugging to modify system partitions in order to crack applications. The USB debugging can be a dangerous thing since Android Debug Bridge i.e. ADB can actually work only once the USB debugging is enabled. This can lead to the installation of custom recoveries and even ROMs i.e. a custom version of modified operating systems. The USB debugging should be turned off when not in use and users should avoid flashing custom ROMs, recoveries, and kernels.
Another major role in hacking is negligence i.e. charging your phone in random places. There are charging plugs which are specially designed to grab data and copy data. Hardware hacking is a big concept which includes Arduino Boards and specially designed boards which can work as HID. You should actually avoid plugging or charging your phones where the other end of the USB is not visible to you. For example, plugging your phone to charge at Airports, Railway Stations and Cafes can be risky as you cannot actually see the other side of the USB.
Users usually tend to install third-party browsers and websites that actually run scripts and force the users to click on buttons and popups. Visiting unknown websites or using unauthorised browsers can actually be a reason for your phone getting hacked. Some browser extensions can work as MIIM i.e. Man-in-the-Middle attacks where the user and websites are not connected directly and the data is actually modified or used by these extensions. It is advised to use genuine browsers like Firefox and Chrome.
APK binding is a term where genuine applications are actually bound with an unwanted piece of code. The front end of the application might work as a genuine application and a malicious code might be running the background. Unlike malware, genuine applications are not involved in the modifications whereas are the target of APK binding. For example, an APK of PayTM App can be bound with malicious code and work as genuine PayTM Application. The code can work in the background silently and has no connection with PayTM.
Rooting is trending among teens. Rooting is the process of gaining superUser access like administrator in windows. Rooting can be dangerous as system modification is possible after rooting. A root user i.e. superUser can actually install applications in the system and these applications can run in the background as system apps. These include spy applications and other malicious applications which can modify inbuilt system partition. It is advised not to root and use SuperSU correctly after rooting.
Like rooting, gaining system level access in iOS devices is known as jailbreaking. Cydia can allow third-party installation. Pangu is a major jailbreak available for iOS devices. Many other jailbreaks like green poison and SlideToCydia are also available. These jailbreaks can open doors to some serious issues and major drawbacks in Apple’s secure operating system. These third-party installations can be spyware and other inter development applications.
Many spywares are cloud-based spyware i.e. they can be remotely installed on any iOS device with iCloud credentials. Here, human error plays a greater role and thus it is advised to enable two-factor authentication which reduces the risk factor of iCloud credentials being leaked or used by unauthorised person.
Some Solution for your hacking problems!
A solution for all your security related problems is an anti-hacking application called Ccure Ongo which fixes all the problems mentioned above which is available for both Android and iOS devices on their respective app stores.
A truly encrypted messaging application! Unlike WhatsApp and Hike, this application is actually something more secure than Whatsapp and in some cases, even the FBI was unable to decrypt messages sent via Signal. Even this application is available on both Android and iOS devices on their respective apps stores. This application can actually work as an alternative to WhatsApp i.e. it includes features like encrypted messaging and encrypted calling including group feature.
By Nikhil Santosh Mahadeshwar
(The author of this article is a Certified Security Analyst and you can contact him at email@example.com)