How to Protect Your Phone From Hackers in 2023 (10 Easy Tips)
The sensitive data you store on your phone makes it a prime target for hackers. While you’re more likely to hear about celebrities and public figures getting targeted for cybercrimes, the truth is that phone hacking can happen to anyone.
With hackers inventing new and sophisticated attacks every day, it’s crucial to invest in a defense system for your phone. I shortlisted the 10 best ways to protect your mobile or smartphone from hackers and other cyberthreats. For maximum protection, I strongly recommend you install a top VPN (choose ExpressVPN for the best security and reliability) and download an antivirus app (Norton 360 Deluxe is best by far).
Quick Guide: The Best Way to Protect Your Phone From Hackers in 2023
- Get a VPN. I recommend ExpressVPN for encrypting your Android or iOS phone against hackers.
- Download an antivirus. Norton 360 is the leading antivirus for all types of mobile cyberthreats.
- Launch the VPN and antivirus. Now you can enjoy maximum protection against hackers on your phone.
10 Easy Tips to Protect Your Phone From Hackers in 2023
1. Use a VPN and Antivirus
Android and iOS provide a decent level of built-in security, but you can only get maximum protection against hackers by pairing a VPN with an antivirus.
While a VPN and antivirus both offer extensive security on their own, having both installed on your phone will provide the best results. A VPN protects you by concealing your IP address and encrypting all traffic sent to and from your device. But if you download a file infected with a virus or malware, an antivirus will detect and stop malicious software from harming your phone (although it doesn’t provide any sort of encryption).
My team and I have extensively tested over 50 VPNs, and ExpressVPN easily ranks as the #1 VPN for Android and iOS. You can connect to any of its high-speed network of 3000+ servers in 94+ countries to encrypt your phone’s internet traffic against hackers.
During tests, ExpressVPN’s servers even worked with streaming apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. Even more impressively, ExpressVPN is one of the only VPNs that worked during on-the-ground tests in China. You can rest assured that your private data is always safe as well — I ran multiple leak tests on its servers and ExpressVPN passed every one. In addition, the company has previously commissioned independent audits to prove its security and privacy claims.
Every plan includes a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test out every feature on your Android or iPhone. If you’re not satisfied, you can get a full refund. I tested it myself by asking for a refund over 24/7 live chat. Unlike other VPN services, the customer support representative didn’t pressure me to stay or ask any follow-up questions. My refund was processed in minutes and the money returned to my account in only 5 days.
Norton is a perfect complement to ExpressVPN’s encryption capabilities, providing impressive defense against cyberthreats on Android and iOS. Its features include an anti-malware scanner, personalized privacy report, web protection to block phishing links, and WiFi Security to notify you when you’re connecting to an unsecured network.
You can choose between either Norton 360 for Mobile (advanced) and Norton Mobile Security (basic). I recommend Norton 360 for Mobile — this app not only defends your Android or iOS against malware and online threats, but it also includes a free VPN and Dark Web Monitoring feature. This tool alerts you whenever your personal information is leaked onto the Dark Web, so you can defend yourself against identity theft and hackers.
You’re protected by a 60-day money-back guarantee when you sign up for Norton on its official website. I tested the money-back guarantee to make sure it works, and I’m happy to say that it was approved within 5 minutes! The money returned to my account just 5 days later.
2. Keep Your OS and Apps Updated (and Remove Old Apps)
This may seem like a no-brainer but it bears repeating: keep your phone’s OS and apps up-to-date. In addition to new features, Android and iOS regularly release essential security fixes with system updates that help protect you against a variety of exploits.
You can go a step further by enabling auto-updates to ensure you never miss a patch release. If your device is outdated, I can understand not wanting to download a new software update, as this can sometimes impact your phone’s performance. However, I’d take a performance hit over a hacked phone anyday.
3. Only Download Apps From Trusted Sources
Mobile apps can access a lot of personal information, so it’s important that you only install trustworthy ones on your device.
The easiest way to do this is to start at the source. Make sure you only download apps that are available on the Google Play Store, Apple App Store, or another trustworthy platform. Any app found on the Google Play Store or Apple App Store must meet certain security criteria before being approved and are also scanned to ensure they don’t contain malware.
If you’re ever unsure about an app you’ve downloaded, you can use a trusted antivirus like Norton 360 to scan your device for malware and other threats. Norton offers both real-time and manual scans to check for security risks, so you’ll be able to catch a wayward app before it compromises your privacy.
4. Use a Complex Passcode (And Avoid Biometric Security)
Contrary to what phone manufacturers would have you believe, biometrics like fingerprint and facial scanners are a flawed way to secure your phone. You’re better off relying on an old-fashioned PIN or password, as hackers have developed many ways to bypass biometrics (including simple tricks like the infamous 2019 exploit that allowed users to bypass fingerprint scanners on a variety of Samsung Galaxy phones using only a third-party screen protector).
Unfortunately, not all passwords are created equal. Although it’s better to have a PIN/password than none, you can significantly increase your security by using a complex password. Aim for at least 16-20 characters with a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. This goes not only for your phone’s password, but any and all accounts you have.
Here are a few other tips for boosting password security:
- Change your password every 6-12 months, as well as any time you hear about a data breach for a service you use.
- Disable “Smart Lock” or any other feature that keeps your device unlocked in certain areas or when a Bluetooth device is connected.
- Don’t answer security questions honestly. Instead, think of it like an additional password and use letters and numbers in your answer.
- Enable “Lockdown Mode” on your Android device, which disables biometric and smart-unlock methods (PIN and password will still work).
In addition to the tips above, you should strongly consider getting a password manager. These services let you store all of your account passwords in a digital vault, which not only provides much tighter security but also eliminates the need to memorize dozens of passwords! Norton offers a free password manager in all of its plans, with mobile apps for both iOS and Android. You can try Norton risk-free for 60 days with its money-back guarantee.
5. Learn How to Lock or Wipe Your Phone Remotely
Apple’s Find My iPhone and Android’s Find My Device are location-tracking features designed to help you find your phone in the event it’s lost or stolen. However, these tools go beyond simple device tracking, as they can also be set to lock your device and delete all data to prevent thieves from accessing your information.
6. Be Careful When Granting App Permissions
Even if you only get your app apps from trusted storefronts like Google Play or the App Store, this doesn’t mean every app can be trusted with your data.
You can take additional measures to protect yourself by limiting an app’s access. Many apps will request access to information like your location, photos, contacts, and more. While granting such permissions may seem harmless, it could become a privacy issue down the line if the app were to ever be hacked or otherwise compromised.
If you encounter an app with suspicious permission requests, deny the requests and submit a ticket to the app store to lodge a formal complaint. It would also be a good idea to scan your phone with Norton 360 to ensure the app didn’t install any malware.
7. Don’t Jailbreak Your Phone
Jailbreaking or rooting your phone can be tempting, especially if you own an Apple iOS-based device. Bypassing your phone’s operating system lets you install all sorts of apps that aren’t approved by Apple and even change wireless providers. Unfortunately, jailbreaking comes with serious security risks that can leave you exposed to hackers and other threats.
For one thing, accessing Google or Apple’s official security updates may become more difficult since installing them could remove the jailbreak. You’ll also need to be 100% sure you can trust the apps you use, as they will have full access to your device once installed.
While there are certainly benefits to jailbreaking your phone, it’s simply not a good idea if you care at all about your online security and privacy.
8. Beware of Spam and Phishing Emails
Although your email service’s spam folder will catch many of these threats, it won’t prevent all of them from ending up in your inbox. Here are a few ways you can protect yourself against spam and phishing emails:
- If an email looks suspicious, don’t open it — although the act of opening an email isn’t all that dangerous, it can still provide information about you to the spammer such as your IP address, ISP, approximate geographic location, and more.
- Never click on a link from a suspicious email — if you accidentally open a malicious email, the best thing you can do is delete it immediately and avoid clicking any links or attachments. These links could contain viruses or other malicious files.
- Mark any suspicious email as spam or junk — this helps train your email service’s detection software to better identify such emails in the future.
If you ever click a link or open an attachment you think might be malicious, immediately scan your device with antivirus software. Norton Mobile Security for iOS and Android will scan all apps on your device and remove any viruses, spyware, or other threats it encounters. Best of all, you can try Norton with the 60-day money-back guarantee.
9. Set Up Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Two-factor authentication or 2FA is one of the simplest and most effective security tools you have at your disposal. As its name implies, 2FA is an extra security layer for online accounts that forces you to provide an additional piece of information after entering your username and password.
Any form of 2FA protection is better than nothing, but not all methods are created equal. For the best security, you’ll want to use a software token-based method such as Google Authenticator, which generates a time-based, 1-time passcode. Do your best to avoid SMS text-message or voice-based 2FA, as these methods are less secure and can be easily tricked by hackers.
Once you’ve set up 2FA with your online accounts, you should strongly consider pairing it with a trusted VPN. ExpressVPN encrypts your traffic, preventing hackers from seeing when you log in to your private accounts. You can try ExpressVPN for Android or iOS completely risk-free as it’s backed by 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’re not satisfied, you can ask for a refund from the customer support team over 24/7 live chat.
10. Keep Your Phone With You At All Times
Although hackers can access your phone remotely, the easiest way for someone to get into your phone is through physical access. Thankfully, it’s also easy to prevent someone from grabbing your phone by ensuring you keep it on your person whenever you’re outside your home.
Hackers only need a few minutes to break into your phone so leaving it unattended in a public setting is never a good idea. Of course, accidents do happen but prevention is key. As long as you’ve followed the other tips on this list, your data should be well protected even in the event a hacker gets a hold of your phone.
FAQ: Protect Your Phone From Getting Hacked
How can I tell if someone is hacking my phone?
It’s not always easy to tell if your phone has been hacked, but there are a few signs to look for:
- Apps frequently open by themselves
You notice something you don’t recognize on your phone such as an app you didn’t download or a purchase you didn’t make.
- Your phone’s performance suddenly slows down and battery life is reduced (malware can significantly drain your phone’s power).
- Pop-ups appear on your screen (typically indicate spyware or malware on your device).
To prevent your phone from being hacked, you should enable both a VPN and antivirus on your device. A VPN will encrypt your traffic while the antivirus detects and prevents malware infections with a real-time protection scanner. Out of all the options available, ExpressVPN and Norton Mobile Security are the best dual-protection options on the market.
How do I remove a hacker from my phone?
If you suspect your phone has been hacked, change your passwords, remove any suspicious apps, and immediately run a virus scan. You can also follow these 10 tips to prevent another phone hacking in the future.
Norton Mobile Security’s malware scanner can quickly diagnose and quarantine any threats that may be present on your device. Depending on the severity of the hack, you may also need to restore your device to factory settings to purge the threat.
You can try Norton on your phone risk-free using its 60-day money-back guarantee. This way, you can still remove any malware that may be present on your device already and prevent future attacks for 60 days before committing to a long-term plan.
What are the best apps to protect my phone from being hacked?
After testing and research, the best way is to download a VPN and an antivirus app. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic to defend it against hackers, advertisers, and anyone else who might be watching your online activities. This is especially useful if you regularly connect to public WiFi networks at school, work, cafes, libraries, or airports. I highly recommend ExpressVPN as it’s the best VPN app in 2023 for Android and iOS devices.
An antivirus app can flag and block malware infections on your phone. Norton Mobile Security has an Android and iOS app packed with a sophisticated range of anti-malware tools, including a real-time scanner and encrypted cloud backup.
Don’t Wait to Defend Your Phone Against Cyberattacks Today
While iOS and Android’s built-in security systems offer some protection, it’s simply not enough to fully prevent attacks from today’s sophisticated privacy threats. I strongly suggest you take a proactive approach that combines a VPN and antivirus for a complete security package. Phone hacking is not a niche threat that only people with a large online presence need to worry about — if you own a smartphone, you’re at risk.
ExpressVPN is the best VPN choice to encrypt your mobile traffic and it has a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can download it with confidence. If you’re not satisfied, you can easily get a full refund.
Norton is the leading antivirus app for Android and iOS devices and will protect your phone against all types of cyberthreats, including phishing links, identity theft, viruses, malware, and more. You can test its features risk-free with the whopping 60-day money-back guarantee.