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Can Hackers Access Your Phone’s Camera and Microphone?

Unless you’re Mark Zuckerberg or in charge of the FBI, you’re probably not at risk. But it’s easier than you might think for your device to be hacked.

We trust our phones to do everything for us: hold our bank and credit card information, recognize our voices and transcribe our speech, capture photos of us on vacation, and communicate with friends and work colleagues, et cetera. It’s natural to worry about all of this information being stolen.

Not long ago, Edward Snowden proved that the NSA has the ability to break into your phone’s camera or microphone — even when it is turned off — and photograph the user, or record his or her conversations. What the NSA can do, a hacker can do. Exactly how likely is our phone to be susceptible to recording or photographing us while we’re unaware?

It depends. There are many ways that the security of our phone can be in jeopardy. You might already be familiar with unknown e-mail contacts sending malicious links with the intent of compromising your device; this method also applies to unknown phone numbers texting links or blank messages. Also be aware of strange links sent by e-mail addresses or phone numbers you do know — their device or e-mail could have been hacked. If you’re unsure about a link or message’s validity, ask your contact if it was intentional.

More recently, many Android viruses, like the “Stagefright” bugs, use messaging applications to infect the device by sending a MMS message — such as a video, or a link to a video —  that is automatically accepted by your device. These viruses are known for taking control of your device within seconds, which can lead to stolen personal information and spying.

One way to prevent this from happening is to turn off automatic retrieval of MMS messages. Further, be cautious of third-party applications that request access to your camera or microphone: Do they need either in order to work properly? Hackers often insert malicious code into more popular, trusted apps as well — so you might not even be aware of any malware until it’s too late.

If your phone has been hacked, and you’re able to, download PSafe’s antivirus software. If not, you can perform a factory reset, which will wipe the virus from the device. However, there are still some precautions you can take, such as:

  • Make sure your phone is receiving the latest security updates.
  • Download anti-virus software, like PSafe Total, to quickly eliminate security threats and protect your device 24/7.