This article is brought to you by Aura.
Watch the video to see how we protect you online.
This article is brought to you by Aura. Watch the video to see how we protect you online.
Start Free Trial
4.7 stars on Trustpilot
Close Button
What is Aura? (1:10)

Answered: How To Remove a Hacker From Your Smartphone

Deleting suspicious apps, resetting your device, and recovering hacked accounts are among the best ways to remove a hacker from your smartphone.

Illustration of a hand pulling a tiny hacker out of a smartphone

Aura’s app keeps you safe from scams, fraud, and identity theft. Try Aura for free.

4.7 stars as of March 2024

In this article:

    In this article:

      See more

      Aura’s digital security app keeps your family safe from scams, fraud, and identity theft.

      See pricing
      Share this:

      Do Hackers Have Access to Your Phone?

      For hackers, accessing your phone is a gateway to your sensitive data, online accounts, and even your identity. Unfortunately, modern cybercriminals have more ways than ever to hack your phone. 

      According to the latest data [*]:

      80% of all phishing websites target mobile devices specifically — while new instances of mobile malware have increased by 51% in the past year.

      If your device or online accounts are hacked, it can take weeks or even months to realize the full extent of the damage. You may not even know you’re a victim until you discover new credit cards or loans taken out in your name. 

      In this guide, we’ll explain how you can quickly confirm if your phone has been hacked, what to do to remove a hacker from your phone, and how to secure your mobile phone against cybercriminals in the future.

      {{show-toc}}

      Has Your Phone Been Hacked? 7 Red Flags To Look Out For

      Hackers can target your device itself or your specific online accounts — such as your banking, social media, and email accounts. Whatever their target, the goal is the same: find enough of your sensitive personal information to steal your identity, trick you into sending money, or hack into your bank account.

      If your phone or accounts are acting strangely, here are some red flags indicating that you’ve been hacked:

      • You can’t access certain apps or online accounts. Most hackers are less interested in compromising your device than they are in accessing your online accounts. If you suddenly can’t log in to your mobile banking, email, or social media accounts, it could mean your phone (or the accounts themselves) has been hacked. 
      • Your battery loses charge faster than usual or has other performance issues. Viruses and malware run constantly in the background, which can drag down performance. You may notice faster-than-usual battery drain — or that your device is running hot, making odd sounds, or constantly crashes. 
      • You see continuous pop-ups when browsing the web. Scammers may partner with unscrupulous advertising companies to target your device with adware. They could infect your device so that it displays non-stop ads, and make money from disrupting your experience.
      • There are new or unexpected apps on your homescreen. Some viruses install new apps on your device without your knowledge; these apps hide malware or are designed to steal your personal information. They may look similar to well-known apps you already use.
      • Your bill shows higher-than-expected data usage. If your phone is infected with a virus, it may receive automated commands from an external source. If it uses your wireless plan to make this connection, it may increase your phone bill.
      • Your phone is sending strange messages, calls, or emails. Hackers can use compromised devices to launch phishing attacks against other people. If your friends and contacts are receiving unusual messages from your phone number, it means your phone has probably been hacked.
      • There are unfamiliar configuration profiles in your phone’s settings. Hackers may change your phone’s configuration settings in order to carry out their attacks. You may notice unexplained changes to your home screen, language display, or connection settings.

      The bottom line: Digital security is no longer just about protecting your device against viruses. Almost everyone can benefit from an all-in-one provider that protects their devices, data, online accounts, identity, and finances. Try Aura free for 14 days and get award-winning protection for you and your family. 

      How To Remove a Hacker From Your Phone (Android and iOS)

      1. Use antivirus software to scan for mobile malware or viruses
      2. Make sure your operating system (OS) and software are up to date
      3. Remove any suspicious apps you don’t recognize
      4. Regain access to any hacked accounts
      5. Review app permissions
      6. Delete your browsing history, cache, profiles, and downloads
      7. Restore your phone from a previous (and safe) backup
      8. Perform a factory reset on your phone

      If you believe your phone is hacked, you need to take immediate steps to remove malicious software and secure all of your online accounts. 

      Before you start: Try restarting your device. Your issues may not be caused by a hacker, but by incompatible apps, corrupted files, or other problems. If restarting your device causes it to work normally, you probably don’t need to move onto the next steps.

      1. Use antivirus software to scan for mobile malware or viruses

      Many hackers use malware to control their victim’s device or access sensitive files, photos, and videos. Using a reputable antivirus scanner can help you detect and remove malware — but only on Android devices (Apple doesn’t allow third-party apps to scan for viruses).

      This step is important because malware can give hackers “backdoor access” to your device. If you don’t remove this first, they’ll continue to re-hack your accounts. 

      🔎 Scan your device and remove viruses — for free. Aura’s award-winning digital security app includes powerful Android antivirus software as well as advanced mobile security tools for smartphones, tablets, and computers. Try Aura for free and safeguard your devices, data, and identity.

      2. Make sure your OS and software are up to date

      Your phone’s operating system is one of your strongest defenses against hacking. Every operating system (and app) update includes security patches designed to block or remove the latest threats. 

      While you can manually update your apps and operating system, it’s better to enable auto-updates to ensure that you’re always using the latest and most secure versions. 

      How to enable automatic software updates on your smartphone:

      • On Android devices: Open the Google Play Store and tap on your profile icon. Then, tap on Settings, Network Preferences, and finally, Auto-update apps.
      • On iOS devices: Open Settings and then tap on General. Navigate to Software Update and tap on Automatic Updates, and then on Download iOS Updates.

      💡 Related: Can Someone Hack My iPhone? How To Tell & What To Do

      3. Remove any suspicious apps you don’t recognize

      If your phone contains unfamiliar apps that you don’t remember downloading, consider this a clear sign that someone has been tampering with the device. 

      Hackers can use spoofed apps in many different ways. They might create look-alike apps to trick you into sending sensitive data, like your credit card data or Social Security number (SSN). Or, they may use apps to access other parts of your device, such as your camera and microphone. 

      How to remove suspicious apps on your smartphone:

      • On Android devices: Open the Google Play Store, click on your profile icon, tap on Manage apps & devices, and then tap on Manage. Select the name of the app you want to uninstall, and then tap on Uninstall.
      • On iOS devices: Find the app on your homescreen, and press down on the app icon. Then, select Remove App and then Delete App.

      The bottom line: Your phone should only contain apps that were either included when you bought it or that you downloaded from the official Apple App Store or Google Play store.

      4. Regain access to any hacked accounts

      Once you know your device is free from malicious apps, you can start the process of recovering your hacked accounts. Depending on the extent of the damage, this can be a time-consuming process that depends on the account that was hacked. 

      How to regain access to your most sensitive accounts:

      • Recover a hacked iCloud account: If your Apple ID or iCloud accounts are hacked, you can follow these steps to recover your account.
      • Recover a hacked Google account: Attempt to log in to your account to change your password, and enable additional security settings. If you can’t access your account, follow these steps.
      • Recover a hacked email account: Follow the email service provider’s instructions. Here’s how to recover a hacked email account hosted by Gmail, Yahoo, or Microsoft
      • Recover a hacked social media account: Your account recovery steps will be slightly different for each compromised social media account. Here’s how to recover a hacked account on Instagram, Facebook, X (Twitter), TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube.
      • Recover a hacked online banking account: Contact your bank’s fraud department directly by using the phone number listed on the back of your bank card. 

      💡 Related: Have I Been Hacked? How To Recognize and Recover From a Hack

      5. Review app permissions

      Some malicious or compromised apps ask for permission to your phone’s files, data, settings, GPS location, camera, and microphone. It’s always a good idea to regularly review your app permissions to ensure that you aren’t giving too much control of your device to a sketchy app. 

      How to change app permissions on Android:

      • Open your device’s Settings app, and tap on Apps.
      • You will see a list of apps. Tap on one, and open the Permissions menu to select what the app can and cannot do.
      • Repeat for every app on your phone.

      How to change app permissions on iPhone:

      • Open your phone’s Settings app, and tap on Privacy.
      • Your phone will show the apps you have installed. Tap on one to configure its permissions.
      • Repeat for every app on the list.

      6. Delete your browsing history, cache, and downloads

      Hackers may hide malware and spyware anywhere, including in your web browser cache. This part of your phone is responsible for downloading cookies, which keep you logged in to websites that you visit frequently. You may also have malware in your downloads folder and in other places on your phone.

      Deleting your browser history, temporary cache files, and downloads can get rid of many simple viruses. It may not work for sophisticated malware, but it’s a fast and safe way to clear your phone of potentially malicious files.

      How to clear your cache in Google Chrome for Android:

      • Open the Chrome app.
      • Tap on More in the upper right corner.
      • Tap on History, and then on Clear browsing data.
      • Choose a time range. Select All time to delete everything.
      • Check the boxes next to Cookies and site data and cached images and files.
      • Tap on Clear data.

      How to clear your cache in Safari on iOS devices:

      • Open the Settings app, and then select Safari.
      • Scroll down, and tap on Clear History and Website Data.
      • Confirm by tapping again.

      💡 Related: How To Protect Yourself From Hackers (2024 Guide)

      7. Restore your phone from a previous (and safe) backup

      If you have a previous backup of your phone that you made before it got hacked, you can safely restore your phone from that backup and continue using it. 

      Both Android and Apple iOS phones support free cloud-enabled backups, but with limited storage space. You can purchase additional storage space from Google (for Android) or Apple (for iOS). You can also back up both Android and iPhone data onto your PC with a cable.

      Here’s how to back up your phone’s data to a PC:

      • On Android: Connect your phone to the PC by using a USB cable. When your PC displays Charging this device via USB, click on the notification, then click on Transfer Files, and follow the instructions.
      • On Apple iOS: Connect your iPhone to the PC by using a Lightning to USB cable. Open iTunes and click on the iPhone button near the top left. Click on Summary and then Back up. You can also encrypt the backup to improve its security.

      💡 Related: What To Do After a Data Breach

      8. Perform a factory reset on your phone

      In the worst case scenario, you may need to “wipe” your phone and reset it to its original factory settings. While this won’t guarantee that you’ll remove all viruses (and can’t help with hacked accounts), it’s one of the best ways to troubleshoot and help determine where the problem is coming from. 

      Note: A factory reset will delete all apps, data, and settings from your device. Make sure you save any important data to an external device before you reset your phone to its factory state. 

      How to reset your phone to its factory settings:

      • For Android: Tap on Apps, then Settings, and select Backup and reset. Tap on Factory data reset and confirm.
      • For iPhone: Open the Settings app, tap on General, and select Transfer or Reset iPhone. Tap on Erase All Content and Settings and confirm.
      🥇 Get award-winning protection against viruses, hackers, and online scammers. Aura’s all-in-one cybersecurity solution has been rated #1 by Money.com, USNews.com, TechRadar and more. Try Aura for free today.

      What To Do If Your Phone or Apps Have Been Hacked

      If your Apple or Android phone has been hacked, you need to act quickly to secure your device and accounts. This means going beyond your phone’s security options and taking steps to secure your personal data and sensitive information against unauthorized access. 

      Here’s what you can do to protect your identity, finances, and data after your device has been hacked:

      • Freeze your credit with all three bureaus. Hackers are almost always financially motivated. Freezing your credit prevents them from using stolen information to take out loans or open new accounts in your name. To freeze your credit, contact each of the three major credit bureaus individually — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
      • Update all of your passwords, and enable two-factor authentication (2FA). You never know to which accounts hackers may have gained access. Create a strong, unique password for every account you have, and enable 2FA on each account that supports it.
      • File an official report with the FTC or FBI. If someone is using your online accounts to impersonate you, report it to the FTC at IdentityTheft.gov. You can also report fraud and identity theft to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at IC3.gov.
      • Contact your bank, and cancel compromised cards and accounts. Hackers may be able to use your credit cards and bank account number without your knowledge. Contact your bank, and tell them to freeze your cards and reject new charges until you have control over your account again.
      • Sign up for identity and credit monitoring. Scammers may use the data in your phone to take out loans in your name or implicate you for crimes they commit. Sign up for an all-in-one digital security service like Aura to get real-time alerts when your information is used without your knowledge.
      • Warn your friends, family, and contacts. Make sure your friends, family members, and contacts know that they can’t trust SMS messages and phone calls that appear to come from you. Ask them to confirm any message received from you by contacting you first – and let them know they may be targets, too.

      💡 Related: What Can Hackers Do With Just Your Phone Number?

      How To Protect Your Phone From Hackers

      Your phone is just one part of your digital identity. To protect yourself from the risk of identity theft, you need to safeguard your accounts and data by practicing good cyber hygiene across every device and platform that you use.

      Here are some tips to keep your phone safe from hackers and scammers:

      • Don’t jailbreak your phone. While a jailbroken device can give you more customization options, it makes you a much easier target for viruses and hacking. Make sure you know the tradeoffs before doing anything that will impact your phone’s built-in security. 
      • Only download apps from official App Stores. If an app isn’t available through the official Apple Store or Google Play store, there’s a reason. The app’s security settings are not up to the company’s standards. Using unofficial apps exposes you to additional security risks.
      • Make sure you’re using unique and strong passwords for every account. Be prepared for the inevitability of hackers learning your device and account passcodes. If every account has a different password, they won’t be able to use one password to access all of your accounts. Consider using a password manager to address these vulnerabilities.
      • Enable two-factor authentication whenever possible (and biometric security). Many apps offer additional security features like 2FA and biometric security. Enable these options whenever they are offered so that attackers can’t easily gain access to your sensitive apps and data.
      • Keep regular backups of your phone and other devices. With secure backups available, you can avoid disruption even when targeted by complex cyberattacks. As long as your backups remain unaffected, you can always restore from a previous point.
      • Learn to spot the warning signs of a phishing scam. Many hackers use phishing to gain entry to their targets’ devices. Don’t fall for phony emails and text messages containing links to familiar-looking websites and services. 
      • Turn on auto-updates for your software and operating systems. Automatic updates ensure that your phone is protected from the latest threats. Delaying these updates – even for a few days – can expose you to attacks that are otherwise entirely preventable. Go to your settings page, and make sure your device updates automatically.
      • Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks (especially to log in to accounts). Public Wi-Fi hotspots are surprisingly easy to spoof. Hackers can intercept data sent over unsecured Wi-Fi and use it to enter victims’ accounts. Always use a virtual private network (VPN) when using unsecured public Wi-Fi.
      • Protect yourself from spam calls and texts with an artificial intelligence (AI) Call Assistant. Spam calls and texts are often associated with phishing attacks. Use a full-featured AI-powered Call Assistant to stop fraudsters from targeting you with robocalls, and reduce the risk of phone hacking.
      • Monitor your identity and finances with an identity theft protection provider. Get real-time alerts when scammers try to open new accounts in your name. Prevent cybercriminals from stealing your identity by locking down your accounts the moment they try.

      Viruses and hacking are not the only threats facing smartphone users online. You need all-in-one digital security protection that covers your devices, accounts, and data all at once. 

      Aura shields you and your family from the harrowing effects of fraud with 24/7 U.S.-based customer support and up to $5 million in identity theft insurance coverage, along with award-winning cybersecurity tools including antivirus software, VPN, and a spam-beating AI Call Assistant — all in an easy-to-use app available on both Android and iOS.

      Shut down hackers before it’s too late. Try Aura free for 14 days.

      Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you to increase awareness about digital safety. Aura’s services may not provide the exact features we write about, nor may cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat discussed in our articles. Please review our Terms during enrollment or setup for more information. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime.

      Is this article helpful so far?
      Yes
      No
      Skip
      Need an action plan?

      No items found.

      Related Articles

      An open laptop with an eye displayed on its screen; a question mark is also seen inside the pupil of the eye
      Internet Security

      What Do Hackers Do With Stolen Information?

      Thieves may use stolen information to open fraudulent new bank accounts, apply for credit cards, or even demand a ransom. Can you prevent this?

      Read More
      September 5, 2023
      An illustration of an open laptop displaying a keyhole
      Internet Security

      What Is Digital Security? Steps to Stay Safe Online (NEW)

      The pandemic introduced us to remote socialization, school, work, and even healthcare. But have you truly mastered the art of digital security?

      Read More
      June 6, 2023

      Try Aura—14 Days Free

      Start your free trial today**