Grace Cary / Moment

Holidays are the busiest days for hackers. If you use your phone to transfer money, or make purchases, hackers probably have your banking information.

If you text or email holiday greetings to family and friends, hackers likely have a copy of your contact list.

Hackers can use Bluetooth to hack into your smartphone and take it over to send emails and text messages containing phishing links to your contacts.

The Android platform is vulnerable to security flaws that are constantly in need of patching. Apple's iPhones are not much safer.

Phones owned by US State Department employees and other government officials were hacked with spyware called "Pegasus" that was developed by an Israeli technology firm.

Pegasus was on their phones for months or years before it was discovered. Apple now says it will notify users whose iPhones were hacked by spyware.
 

Getty Images

5 Signs your cell phone is hacked

1. Apps on your phone that you don't remember downloading

If you notice strange apps on your phone that you don't remember downloading, delete them immediately.

2. Your phone runs slow or it feels hot in your hand

A slow phone may be a telltale sign that you've been hacked. If your phone runs hotter than it did before, it could mean apps are running in the background.

3. Your phone crashes often

This can happen if your phone is old or you haven't updated your operating system and apps. But if you have a new phone that crashes often, you're probably hacked.

4. Unusual data spikes or high bills

Someone is controlling your phone if your bill is high but your usage hasn't changed.

5. Pop-up ads

There are no pop-up ads on Sandrarose.com. If you notice a lot of pop-up ads, you're probably hacked.
 

Getty Images

How to protect your phone from spyware, malware and hackers

1. If you suspect your phone is hacked, change all your passwords immediately and lock your phone screen with a password. Set the lock screen time to 1 minute.

2. Backup everything - including all images and contacts, then restore your phone to its factory settings to remove pop-up ads.

3. Turn off your Wi-Fi or tethering connection to prevent the hacker from using your data to send messages.

4. Instruct your family and friends to ignore suspicious texts or emails that contain links. Tell them you will always let them know before you send links.

5. Run anti-virus or anti-trojan software to remove the malware.

6. Never leave your phone unattended or let anyone use your phone.

7. Turn off Android's Nearby Share feature.

Nearby Share allows users to share files between Android phones that are nearby. Someone with the feature enabled can simply hold their phone close to yours to steal all your files without your knowledge. Nearby Share is disabled by default when you buy your phone.

8. Disable AirDrop on your Androids, iPhones, iPads and Macs.

9. Never open links in a text message or email on your phone or tablet. Even if you know the person who sent it.

10. Always delete apps you don't use. Hackers can purchase old apps and use them to take over your phone.

Photo may have been deleted

Instagram

A Twitter post by Miss Maryland USA 2021 contestant Jazmine Wright claims a stalker used an Apple AirTag to follow her home.

Apple AirTags are small devices that allows users to track their lost or stolen iPhones, laptops, purses, wallets, or boyfriends.

Photo may have been deleted

Apple

Wright claimed a stalker attached an Apple AirTag tracking device to the wheel well of her Lexus while she was in a bar around 2 a.m. Saturday.

Wright, 28, tweeted:

"So something kinda terrifying happened to me last night. Someone attached an Apple AirTag to the underside of my front wheel well while I was inside a bar.

"It was 2 am and I was driving away with no cars around me and I kept getting this alert for like 30 mins straight."

Wright posted a screenshot of an iPhone notification that read, "AirTag Found Moving With You: The location of this AirTag can be seen by the owner."

Photo may have been deleted

MacRumors

Wright made her Twitter account private after the thread went viral.

Law enforcement officials also warn that car thieves may use the devices to track your car to your home and steal it overnight.

In a support document, Apple explains how to disable an AirTag tracker.

Photo may have been deleted

Fire officials in Massachusetts are warning TikTok users not to participate in a dangerous viral challenge that causes fires when pennies are placed on iPhone chargers.

The viral trend is responsible for setting classrooms on fire at two Massachusetts schools this week.

The Plymouth fire department issued letters to Plymouth North High School students and parents warning them to stop putting pennies on the exposed prongs of iPhone chargers.

Photo may have been deleted

Photos: Plymouth Fire Department

Firefighters say the exposed prongs coming in contact with a copper penny causes an arc of electricity from electrical outlets.

According to a teacher, two students plugged iPhone chargers into outlets and placed a penny between the partially exposed prongs of the charger and the outlet, resulting in sparks and flames.

"It's almost like an explosion," said Plymouth Fire Chief Edward Bradley. "The electricity propels the charger and the coin - the coin is molten metal at this point," Bradley told WHDH TV.

"It does not take much to be electrocuted fatally just by an outlet in a wall socket," he explained.

Amherst Fire Department Assistant Chief Jeff Olmstead said the viral challenge could cause thousands of dollars in damage to the electrical system "if they have to pull those wires back to a circuit breaker. The damage to the person, electrocution causing burns or death or starting clothes on fire or items nearby," he told Western Mass News.

Olmstead said pranksters will be charged with felony arson and property damage.

"Although they are younger, they will face fees, fines and probation and no one wants to see them have a felony or conviction on a record."

No photo

Offset can't catch a break. The Migos rapper is wanted by Sandy Springs, Georgia police for smacking a cell phone out of a teenager's hand while shopping for electronics at a Target store. According to Channel 2's Mike Petchenik the incident happened on Thursday, April 25.

Read more »

Mitzi Bickers

Celebrities, billionaires and criminals are making the switch to the old school flip phone to avoid privacy invasion by snooping government officials, law enforcement or Facebook.com.

When former Atlanta city manager Mitzi Bickers (pictured) was arrested on bribery, wire fraud and money laundering charges earlier this month, she was spotted talking on a flip phone as she left the federal courthouse with her attorney.

Read more »

Find My Friends app

A popular iPhone smartphone app led police to the body of a missing Atlanta woman on Wednesday, WSBTV reports.

Police found the body of a woman along a dirt trail near a school at 3 AM Wednesday. Her family had reported her missing. Police have not released the name of the missing woman who is in her 30s.

Read more »

mixed race girl with iPhone

If you suspect that Apple is intentionally throttling or slowing down your iPhone to force you to upgrade, you're not just being paranoid. Apple has confirmed rumors that the old iPhones are designed to slow down as the battery ages.

Forbes first noticed back in 2016 that their old iPhones were slowing down. They did a little investigating and learned that there is "something buried in iOS code called 'Powerd' that will increasingly slow down your device as your battery degrades."

Once that code was removed, their old iPhones ran at normal speed again.

Read more »

Tim Cook

The FBI persuaded a federal judge to order Apple, Inc. to disable the iPhone's self-destruct feature.

The judge ordered Apple to cooperate with the feds "within reason" to break into it's own iPhone.

Apple's CEO Tim Cook had 5 days to respond to the judge's order.

His response was: "We oppose this order."

Read more »

The girlfriend of Kristopher Love, the man police suspect shot and killed Dallas dentist Kendra Hatcher in the parking garage of her luxury apartments, says she doesn't believe he killed Hatcher.

Read more »