Can someone hack into my phone through WiFi? Such security concerns around smartphones are justified.
After all, our smartphones store every aspect of our lives and can pose a potential threat that can disclose our most confidential information to data hackers.
One of the many methods used by hackers includes the infiltration of Wi-Fi networks.
Yes, hackers can gain access to a mobile phone (Android or iOS) by using Wi-Fi networks. Generally, hackers use Man In The Middle attacks, aka DNS Hijacking, to infiltrate Wi-Fi routers.
They intercept communication between a user’s phone and the Wi-Fi network to access usernames, passwords, emails, and other private data.
Let’s look at several situations of how a phone can get hacked and how to secure it from malicious cyber-attacks carried through Wi-Fi networks.
A hacker can hack into your phone by carrying out the MITM (Man in the Middle) attack. If your home or office space uses a cable, DSL, or fiber-optic network then you must be having a router to transmit signals.
The router connects all your devices like phones, computers, smart home gadgets to the internet via the router. The process of how a hacker deploys MITM attack by using your router as the bait is quite simple:
In layman terms, this is how MITM attack takes place:
- Your device connects to a Wi-Fi router
- The router relays the MAC address, which identifies your device.
- Each device on local network has unique MAC address.
- Hacker finds taget local WiFi router and gets access to target router’s MAC address.
- He changes his device’s MAC address to make it the same as target router’s MAC address.
- Now, every device on the local Wi-Fi network connects to the hacker’s device.
- Hacker relays data between the router and his device, making him the Man in the Middle (MITM).
When this occurs, the hacker gets access to read all inbound and outbound network requests using different data collection methods.
This implies that if you type a username and password on a website or input your credit card data, it is stored on the hacker's system.
In addition, every URL you visit is stored. All your devices connected to the hacked Wi-Fi network including your phone suffer a data breach.
It’s important to note that your phone can be hacked over any Wi-Fi network, including home and public Wi-Fi.
Note: Exercise caution when connecting to a new network since hackers leave suspicious Wi-Fi networks accessible to hack into devices and obtain access to their private information
There are indications to look for to determine whether your router has been hacked.
You can lookout for the signs explained below to know how to tell if someone hacked your Wi-Fi:
Passwords abruptly failing to work is not a good indication. When it comes to your router, this is no exception.
If your Wi-Fi network password or login credentials for the router’s admin panel no longer function, it might be an indication that a hacker has got access to your router and modified the settings to shut you out.
If you’re signed into your router’s dashboard, you should check the list of IP addresses that are connected to your network frequently.
If you notice an unfamiliar IP (particularly one from another country), it is most probable that a hacker has gained access to your network.
So, for our second method of determining whether your router has been hacked, look for any unfamiliar IP addresses.
How to find unknown devices connected to your Wi-Fi router:
- Open a web browser
- Enter the IP Address of your router in the address bar.
- Enter your username and password to access the router dashboard (can be found at the back of your router).
- After logging in, look for option that reads “connected devices” or “attached devices”
- Check the list of connected devices to your Wi-Fi network
- If you notice an unknown device connected to your router, ban its MAC address.
Note: Once you find any unknown device or notice that more devices are connected to your network than the number of devices in your home, you must take quick action.
Another indicator of a hacked router is when you try to access your usual websites and continually get rerouted to sites you didn’t intend to visit.
This is one of the classic signs of DNS hijacking or MITM. Raise the alarm when you see this happening with clean websites that are in your frequently visited history.
Ransomware is a form of harmful software that hackers deploy to prevent you from accessing your data in return for a ransom payment. If a hacker gains access to your router, they may easily deny access to your network.
But what if you receive an email or other form of contact from a hacker requesting cash in return for network access?
The government authorities advise against paying the ransom and suggest reporting the issue to the cyber cell of the police department.
If your network shows signs of being compromised, here are the steps that you need to follow for fixing it and bringing your devices back to safety.
When you unplug your router from the internet, the hacker loses access to the router because there is no longer a link.
Your router’s settings and passwords will be reset if you do a factory reset. This gives you a fresh start with the router. To assist you with this process, there should be a physical reset button on the back of your router.
How to reset your router:
- Keep your router connected to the power source
- Locate the reset button on your router. It is usually located on the back or bottom.
- Hold down the reset button with a paperclip or a needle for 30 seconds.
- Release the button after waiting 30 seconds.
- Wait for the router to restart.
Log in to your router’s admin interface after it has been rebooted and reset the password.
Please keep in mind that when you reset your router, your login details will be reset to the factory default username and password.
For reference, there should be a label on your router that lists the default username and password.
How to change router password:
- Open your preferred web browser, enter the IP address of your router.
- Use the default username and password to log in.
- Navigate to the settings menu.
- Change Router Password
- Fill in the new password.
- Save your changes.
Note: When you change your password, choose a unique and complex password containing special characters like (!@#$).
You should reset the settings for your router’s admin panel as well.
Block access to your router from an outside network:
- Open router’s admin panel.
- Go to Settings > Remote Management.
- Turn off Remote Management and save the settings.
Routers do not usually update automatically, which is why it is critical to manually upgrade the firmware. Firmware is software that manages several features of your router and its hardware.
Upgrades are critical because they help resolve vulnerabilities, which could be a ripe target for a hacker seeking to get access to your router.
To update open your Router Settings > Firmware Upgrade > Download & Install and that’s it.
After fixing your router, it is time to perform some necessary checks and fixes on your phone.
- Factory reset your phone by going to Phone’s settings > About Phone > Factory Reset.
- Change credentials on banking apps, social media apps, and others.
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi.
As you go ahead with a more security-conscious outlook, here are a few additional measures to keep a hacker from getting unauthorized access in the future:
- Change your router credentials every quarter
- Update router firmware regularly
- Monitor connected devices in the router dashboard
- Use a “guest network” for your home visitors
Read Next: Can a WiFi Router Get a Virus?
We hope we were able to address the question, “Can someone hack into my phone over wifi?”
We hope this guide helps you in comprehending the problem and, as a result, in regaining control of your network and phone security by evicting the hacker.
Kevin has over five years of experience working in various Tech startups and providing Technical solutions. He has contributed to many Tech publications and websites.