You may have heard the term “screen hacking” before, but might not be sure what it means. Screen hacking or touch screen hacking is a type of cyberattack that involves taking control of someone’s smartphone or computer touchscreen without their permission.
By taking control of your touchscreen, attackers can perform various malicious tasks. Cyberattackers may also use it to gain access to sensitive information such as passwords and usernames.
So what does screen hacking entail? And most importantly, how can you protect yourself from it?
What Is Lock Screen Hacking?
Screen hacking is usually done by taking advantage of a device’s touchscreen. Attackers may be able to access the screen remotely, or they may physically interact with it and exploit weaknesses in the hardware or software. This is done by taking advantage of electromagnetic interference (EMI), the process by which electrical signals can be detected and manipulated. Since touchscreen devices contain a variety of electrical signals, this makes them vulnerable to EMI. Screen hacking may also involve exploiting flaws in the device’s operating system or hardware design.
Using EMI, the hackers can remotely introduce false touch points into a touchscreen of the device and can control the device without actually touching it.
Once hackers gain access to your screen, they can perform various malicious activities such as changing your lock screen password, accessing sensitive data, installing malware, and more.
What Is Ghost Touch?
Ghost touch, also called screen tapping or phantom touch, is a type of touch screen hacking that involves using a small device (e.g. a smartphone, tablet, or laptop) to control the activity on another device’s screen. This is when a hacker uses EMI to simulate a false finger or object on the touchscreen and can control it without physical contact.By controlling the movements of the touch screen, hackers can access sensitive information like passwords and personal data without leaving any physical traces of their presence. Ghost touch can also be used to initiate hacker attacks, such as making purchases without the owner’s knowledge or accessing financial accounts.
Ghost touch problems aren’t always due to hackers, but can be indicative of malicious activity.
How Is Screen Hacking Executed?
Here are the steps cyberattackers take to conduct touchscreen hacking successfully.
Step 1: Search for a Suitable Place
Hackers will search for a public place where they have access to a device’s screen. This could be in an airport lounge, coffee shop, library, or even on a train. In such places, they are able to use EMI to access the touch screen of the devices which are kept on the table with their screen facing towards the table.
Step 2: Install the EMI Equipment
Once the hacker finds a suitable location, they install their EMI equipment. This consists of an antenna and amplifier, creating magnetic signals that can be used to interfere with the electromagnetic field of the touchscreen device.
Step 3: Send Electromagnetic Signals
The hacker then sends out electromagnetic waves at specific frequencies in order to interfere with the touchscreen’s signals and generate false touches on the screen in order to gain control of it. Attackers can inject electromagnetic impulses into the touchscreen’s electrodes to cause the events to be recorded as touch events.
Step 4: Access the Device
Once the hacker has captured and interfered with the device’s electromagnetic field, they can gain access to it and take control. This allows them to perform various malicious activities.
What Can Attackers Do Using Screen Hacking?
Screen hackers can do a variety of malicious activities on the device, such as:
- Receive or make calls: Hackers can access the device’s phonebook and dial numbers to make calls or receive incoming calls.
- Launch malicious websites using the keyboard: The hacker can launch a malicious website or web page and then type out commands on the keyboard.
- Install malware: Intruders can install malware onto the device without the user’s knowledge, allowing them to gain access to confidential data.
- Intercept messages: The cyberattacker can use screen hacking to intercept, read, write, and delete messages from the device.
- Access contact information: Attackers can also gain access to a device’s contacts, including email addresses and phone numbers.
- Access social media accounts: Screen hackers can access the user’s social media accounts and post messages or malicious links.
What Are the Indications of Screen Hacking?
It is difficult to detect screen hacking in its early stages as the hacker does not leave any physical evidence. However, there are some warning signs that you can look out for if you suspect your device has been hacked.
When setting up a new device, for instance, users usually save their preferences and settings. If you notice any changes to these settings, it could indicate that your device has been hacked. Similarly, if you notice any uncharacteristic messages or calls, it is possible that a hacker has accessed your device.
Screen hackers can use up large amounts of data in order to control the device. If you notice unusually high data usage, something malicious might be running.
And if your device is paired with a Bluetooth device you don’t recognize, this, too, could be a sign of screen hacking.
How to Protect Yourself From Screen Hacking
Given the dangers of screen hacking, it is important you take steps to protect yourself and your device from such attacks. Here are some tips that can help.
Use a Secure Unlocking Method
The most effective way to protect your device from screen hacking attacks is to use a secure unlocking method. If your phone supports biometric authentication such as fingerprint or face recognition, make sure you use that instead of a pattern or PIN.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an additional layer of security for your device, which requires you to enter a code sent to your device or phone number in addition to your password. 2FA ensures that even if someone has your password, they will not be able to gain access without the additional code.
Be Careful in Public Places
When using your device in public places, take extra precautions to ensure that your device’s screen is not exposed. Avoid leaving your phone unattended and keep it out of sight when you are not using it.
Use Non-Magnetic Cases
When using a smartphone, laptop, or tablet in public, consider investing in a non-magnetic case. This can help to protect your device from malicious actors who may be trying to gain access via screen hacking.
Beware of Lock Screen Hacking
Lock screen hacking can be devastating, so it is important you take steps to protect yourself. It is essential that you use a secure unlocking method, enable two-factor authentication, take extra care in public places, and invest in non-magnetic cases for your devices. By following these tips, you can ensure that screen hacking will not be an issue.