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How to hack a phone:  typical attack techniques described

How to hack a phone

The smartphone revolution was meant to give the IT sector a second chance to introduce a safe computing platform. Unlike unstable PCs and exposed servers, these new devices were allegedly sealed down and malware-proof. Using social engineering.

The user opening the door themself is the simplest approach for any hacker to gain access to any device. Of course, it’s easier said than done, but the majority of social engineering attacks aim to make that happen.

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Compared to PCs or servers, smartphone operating systems often feature tougher security policies. Application code runs in a sandboxed environment to prevent it from gaining more privileges and controlling the device. The much-lauded security approach, however, has a flaw: it generates so many pop-up notifications that many of us have developed a filter to ignore them. This is because mobile users must take affirmative action before code can access protected portions of the phone’s operating system or storage. According to Catalino Vega III, Security Analyst at Kuma LLC, “Applications on mobile devices segregate permissions to protect the user from rogue apps having a free for all with your data.” “The question “Do you wish to allow this application access to your photos?” becomes routine.

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He says, “This actually just adds one step between the provisioning of that access to the application. And because user experience has made it so that most prompts are now accepted as a gate to functionality access, most users will just give the app access to whatever it is demanding. I believe that we have all been guilty of this at some point.

  1. Malvertising

So-called “malvertisements,” which leverage the framework created for the mobile advertising ecosystem, whether in a browser or within an app, are one particularly significant vector for these types of fraudulent dialog boxes.

Chuck Everette, Director of Cybersecurity Advocacy at Deep Instinct, explains that the intention of the advertisement is to persuade you to click on it. They’re attempting to entice you in with something that will cause you to react involuntarily or with something that appears to be an alert or warning. According to him, the intention is to “try and scare you or tempt you into clicking on the link.”

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He used the Android game Durak as an illustration, which would lure users into disabling security protections and downloading other dangerous apps in order to get them to unlock their phones. Durak was a legitimate program that was sideloaded from the Google Play store, not some shady off-label app. Only 10% of harmful apps come from other third-party markets, according to him, whereas 67% of all malicious programs can be tracked back to the Google Play store. “In order to determine if an app is safe or not, users on Google Play mostly rely on user reviews. This is ineffective. As opposed to this, he asserts that “Apple closely inspects every app on its app store, which reduces the number of apps available—but greatly reduces apps that are reported to be malicious.”

  1. Smishing

With a whole new set of social engineering techniques in play, SMS text messaging is another method attackers employ to get that crucial tappable link in front of their victims. The technique is known as SMS phishing or smishing, and it catches both the high-powered and the credulous.  

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Depending on their motive and objective, fraudsters can use SMS phishing in a variety of methods, according to Rasmus Holst, CRO of Wire. “A file is typically attached along with a message that tries to entice the user to click and download it if the goal is to install malware into a system. Cybercriminals might, for instance, pose as a boss or employer asking a worker to check an attachment while actually setting up a trap for an unwary and busy victim. A single video file that Jeff Bezos downloaded from a reliable source two years prior led to the hacking of his phone. In some situations, hackers can force a malicious file onto a phone without the user’s consent if they open a link utilizing zero-day mobile browser flaws.

  1. Malware

If a hacker is unable to deceive you into inadvertently decreasing your phone’s security measures by pressing a button, they may look for someone who has already done so by jailbreaking their device. Many people believe that jailbreaking gives users more customization options for their devices and the ability to install unauthorized apps of their choice, but it also loosens the stringent security sandboxing that keeps smartphones locked down.

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According to David Schoenberger, founder and chief innovation officer of Eclypses, hackers design programs that consumers would genuinely find useful, like a free VPN, with the goal of installing malware on the devices of unwary users. “Once these malicious applications are downloaded onto a smartphone, they check to see if it has been jailbroken or rooted, and if so, they steal sensitive data and personally identifying information. Once a device’s operating system has been hijacked, such as via jailbreaking it, passwords, chats, or other input data—like bank or payment information—can be easily accessed.

  1. Pretexting

Last but not least, if the user won’t relinquish control of their smartphone voluntarily, an attacker can approach their cell carrier. You may recall the British media crisis from the middle of the 2000s, in which tabloids were accused of using “blagging” methods to gain access to the cellphone voicemails of famous people and crime victims. An attacker uses this technique, often referred to as pretexting, to get access to the victim’s account by compiling enough personal information about the victim to credibly mimic them in interactions with their phone provider.

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The tabloids were only interested in scoops, while criminals could cause considerably more harm with the same methods. According to Adam Kohnke, information security manager at the Infosec Institute, “if successfully verified, the attacker convinces the phone carrier to transfer the victim’s phone number to a device they possess, in what’s known as a SIM swap.” Calls, texts, and access codes now go to the attacker rather than you, just like the second-factor authentication codes that your bank or other financial institutions send to your phone through SMS.

  1. Breaking in via Bluetooth

Hackers can access phones via two wireless attack routes without deceiving anyone into granting rights. Both need being physically close to the target, however they occasionally work in open areas. According to Aleksandr Maklakov, a tech and security expert and CIO at MacKeeper, “the Bluetooth connection is one of the weak spots for a smartphone, and hackers frequently use special methods to connect to devices that operate on Bluetooth and hack them.” The fact that so many individuals leave their Bluetooth connection on makes this a popular hacking technique. Unrestricted Bluetooth connections allow hackers to approach your smartphone and gain access covertly.

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