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Can Someone Hack Into Your Phone by Calling You in 2023?

As our mobile devices become more ingrained in our daily lives, a common question people have is – can a hacker access your smartphone simply by calling your number?

The straight answer is no, someone cannot directly hack your phone by calling you alone in 2023. Modern smartphones have robust security protections in place to prevent remote infiltration through calls or texts.

However, through clever social engineering over a phone call, attackers can potentially manipulate users into installing malware, sharing sensitive information, or otherwise gaining access to your device indirectly.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover:

  • How smartphones can be hacked through vulnerabilities beyond phone calls
  • The limitations of what hackers can do by calling you
  • The clever social engineering tactics used in vishing scams
  • How to keep your phone secure in 2023
  • What to do if you suspect your phone has been compromised

Let’s dive in to separate fact from fiction when it comes to hacking risks from phone calls.

How Hackers Actually Attack Smartphones

While a simple phone call won’t allow hackers to magically break into your device, smartphones still face a variety of cyber threats. Here are some of the most common ways hackers infiltrate mobile phones:

Social Engineering

As we’ll explore further in this article, human manipulation through social engineering is a major risk. By pretending to be legitimate contacts, hackers trick unsuspecting victims into installing malware, entering login credentials or sensitive data on phishing websites.

Spyware Apps

Malicious apps masquerading as legitimate ones can be downloaded onto devices to record activities, track location, steal data, and spy through device cameras and microphones. They are generally installed if someone gets physical access to the phone.

Phishing Links

Phishing uses emails, texts, and fake websites containing malicious links to capture login details and other personal data. Links can also initiate drive-by downloads to install spyware.

Public Wi-Fi Eavesdropping

On open public networks, hackers can monitor all unencrypted activity, seeing any data you send online including emails, messages and browsing data.

Signaling System 7 (SS7) Exploits

SS7 is the global telecom protocol enabling calls, texts, and roaming between networks. SS7 security flaws allow call and text interception, caller location tracking, and illegal call forwarding.

Smartphone hacking techniques

Now that we’ve seen how smartphones are vulnerable, let’s focus specifically on the risks associated with phone calls.

Can Someone Hack Your Phone by Calling You?

Despite being a common concern, there are a few limitations to what an attacker can achieve solely through making phone calls:

No Remote Software Control

Unlike with email phishing, a hacker cannot remotely control or install software on your phone by simply knowing your number and calling you.

Cannot Access Phone Data Directly

Hackers cannot directly retrieve your contacts, photos, files, location history, or other locally stored data simply by calling your device. Malware would need to be installed first to extract data.

Limited Location Tracking Ability

General location can be deduced based on cell tower connections when receiving a call. However, more precise real-time location tracking requires malware, SS7 exploits or spyware.

Call Interception Not Feasible

Merely knowing your number does not allow hackers to covertly intercept or eavesdrop on your calls and texts. Beyond SS7 weaknesses, this requires malware on your phone.

So in summary, while calls alone do not pose a major threat, hackers can combine phone calls with other forms of deception and manipulation. Let‘s look at some examples next.

Vishing: How Scammers Use Calls to Trick You

The most common phone-based attack is vishing – voice phishing scams aimed at manipulating you into giving up sensitive information or downloading malware after receiving a call:

  • Fake support calls claiming to be tech support from Apple, Microsoft or your antivirus company, offering to fix issues or remove viruses from your device. The goal is to get remote access or convince you to install fake “support software”, which is actually malware.
  • Phony bank calls stating there is suspicious activity on your account, expiring card, etc. and asking you to verify personal information like SSNs, account numbers, passwords, or redirecting you to a fake bank website to steal login credentials.
  • Bogus alerts about unpaid bills/taxes demanding immediate payment by credit card over the phone to avoid service interruptions or legal consequences.
  • Fake vaccine surveys aimed at collecting sensitive ID and financial details by promising incentives like gift cards for participating.
  • Robocall scams using pre-recorded messages to get you to speak with an actual fraudster and give up account or credit card information.
  • SIM-swapping where scammers port your phone number to their SIM through social engineering customer support. This lets them access accounts secured through texts/calls.

What makes these vishing tactics so dangerous is that they leverage fear and urgency to bypass critical thinking. Verifying legitimacy before providing sensitive data can protect against these threats.

By the Numbers: Phone Scam Statistics

Phone scams are growing increasingly complex and widespread. Here are some key statistics on the current state of mobile cyber threats:

  • 26.6 billion robocalls were placed to US mobile phones in 2022, a 34% increase over 20218. Most are illegal scam calls.
  • There was a 650% increase in vishing attacks targeting US consumers between October 2021 and March 20229.
  • Losses to business phone scams topped $8.9 billion in 2021 globally, up from $6.9 billion in 202010.
  • 37% of mobile users worldwide were exposed to SMS phishing threats in 2022 compared to 27% in 202111.
  • 92% of malware now uses phishing techniques as an initial attack vector, with calls and texts increasingly used alongside emails12.

Phone scam statistics

This data reveals why remaining vigilant against phone-based social engineering is crucial – vishing techniques are surging. Let‘s look at prevention next.

How to Protect Your Phone from Attacks in 2023

While completely eliminating cyber risks is impossible, applying these security best practices will help minimize the chances of your smartphone being compromised:

  • Keep your OS and apps updated: Install system and app updates promptly to receive the latest security patches fixing known vulnerabilities. Enable auto-updates if possible.
  • Only install apps from trusted sources: Stick to the official Google Play and Apple App stores. Avoid sideloading apps from third-party stores or unknown sites which are more likely to contain malware.
  • Review app permissions carefully: Don’t grant apps unnecessary access to contacts, microphone, location, messages, etc. Only allow permissions required for their functionality.
  • Use strong passwords and 2FA: Secure accounts linked to your device with unique passwords and enable two-factor authentication for an extra layer of protection on logins.
  • Limit usage of public Wi-Fi: Avoid accessing sensitive accounts and data on public networks. Use a VPN if possible for increased security.
  • Decline unexpected downloads: Be wary of sudden requests to download software by unknown callers. Verify legitimacy before installing anything.
  • Use caller ID and spam blocking: Enable caller ID and spam/robocall blocking through your carrier and phone to avoid answering obvious scam calls. But don‘t ignore every unknown caller, as many legitimate calls can come from new numbers.

Caution is your greatest defense – second guess any call or text asking for urgent personal or financial information. Verify through separate channels before providing anything sensitive or performing major downloads.

What To Do If Your Phone Gets Hacked

No one can completely eliminate the chances of mobile hacking. But if it happens, here are the steps experts recommend to mitigate damage:

  • Run security scans using reputable antivirus apps to find any potential malware or spyware. Look for unknown/suspicious apps running in the background.
  • Factory reset your phone after backing up data to wipe the device and remove any infections lurking in the OS or apps. Avoid restoring data until your phone is secure.
  • Change passwords on all connected online accounts via a different trusted computer. Enable two-factor authentication wherever possible for extra security.
  • Contact your mobile carrier to suspend service and get issued a new SIM card. This will prevent continued control or interception of your mobile number.
  • Inspect monthly carrier bills closely for any unusual calling, messaging or data usage that may indicate hacking activities.
  • File reports with your carrier and the police to document unauthorized access and fraud for investigation and evidence.

While a hacked phone can be a major annoyance, taking quick action to remove malware, reset the device to factory settings, and change account credentials can help resolve the situation quickly and limit impacts.

The Bottom Line

Can someone hack your phone by calling in 2023? Simply put, no – the idea of remotely hacking into smartphones via calls is largely exaggerated.

Modern operating systems have robust security protections that prevent direct remote access to a device through voice calls or texts alone.

However, more roundabout social engineering techniques over the phone remain a threat. Manipulating users into downloading malware, sharing sensitive information, or accessing phishing sites can lead to phone infiltration.

By being vigilant against fake calls and texts, avoiding clicking unverified links, downloading apps only from official stores, keeping devices updated, and enabling security options, users can enjoy mobile technology safely.

With caution and common sense, smartphone users can benefit from connectivity without compromising privacy or security.



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.