Smartphones have literally become the digital identity of human beings. There is no doubt that a smartphone is as precious as an official document as it contains sensitive and confidential information that only its user should know. That is why smartphones are the primary targets for cybercriminals. They are coming up with new and innovative techniques to spy on the target phones. Smartphone users need to be alert and aware of these new techniques cybercriminals are coming up with.
Phone cloning is an advanced technique that experienced cybercriminals use to spy on all the activities of any target phone remotely. In this article, we will illustrate how to check if my phone is cloned and how to prevent it from happening. For complete protection, we would recommend you to install ClevGuard Anti-Spyware app. This app detects the attempts of cybercriminals to infiltrate into your phone and alerts you to stop them.
- 1. What Is Phone Cloning
- 2. What Are The Ways to Clone Phones
- 3. 7 Ways to Check If My Phone Is Cloned
- 4. How to Prevent Phone Cloning
1. What Is Phone Cloning?
Phone cloning refers to the process of copying the identity of a cell phone into another cell phone. Basically, a hacker steals the IMEI, ESN, or MEID serial number of the victim’s SIM card or cell phone. These serial numbers are unique identifiers for every cell phone that network service providers use to identify and provide all the cell phone services exclusively.
After stealing the numbers, the hacker reprograms his cell phone or SIM card with stolen numbers so that he could deceive the network service provider into believing that his phone is the victim's phone. Thereby, they can intercept calls and messages and other such services. There are basically two approaches followed by cybercriminals for implementing phone cloning.
Traditional Phone Cloning
To grab the unique identifiers, fraudsters monitor the signals between the network service provider and the victim's phone. However, these signals are now digitally encrypted to prevent such monitoring. But there are some areas where the victim's phone may find it hard to get the signals, and these digital signals are then transmitted in analog form without any encryption.
The fraudsters grab such opportunists and get hold of the unique identifiers. Besides, there are some modern devices available like IMSI catchers to intercept the signals and decode the unique identifiers automatically.
Modern Cellphone Cloning
One of the modern methods used by fraudsters for phone cloning is by impersonating the victim. The fraudster will call up the network service provider and impersonate the victim to request them to port the phone number to a new phone.
If they get through the process, they will use the phone number to reset all the passwords of the online accounts associated with the number quickly. This includes banking credentials, and the damage can be irreparable.
It is important to understand that cloning a phone is different from cloning a phone's data. The former involves cloning the identity of a phone into another phone to get calls and messages from the phone carrier, while the latter involves copying the data stored in a phone into another device.
2. What Are The Ways to Clone Phones?
There are different ways to clone phones that cybercriminals generally use.
Spyware – The easiest way to clone a phone is by deploying spyware in the victim's phone. Spyware collects all the data in a phone and sends them to the hacker. The hacker analyzes the data and decodes the unique identifiers associated with the victim's SIM card and mobile device. Thereafter, he starts reprograming his phone with the collected unique identifiers to make the cloning process successful.
SIM Hijacking – Hackers get hold of the personal credentials of the victim and use them to impersonate the victim in front of the phone carrier. Thereafter, they persuade the phone carrier to transfer the victim's cell number to a new device owner by the hackers. This leads all the calls and messages associated with the victim’s number to go to the hacker's device instead of the victim's device.
Intercepting and Decoding Device – Hackers use modern intercepting devices that can eavesdrop on the connecting signals between the victim's phone number and the phone carrier. Such an interception reveals the unique identifiers of the victim's phone, and the hackers program their device with those unique identifiers. Thereafter, the phone carrier starts sending the same signals for calls and messages to the victim’s device as well as to the hacker's device as they have the same unique identifiers.
3. How to Check If My Phone Is Cloned
There are certain signs and symptoms on how to know if your phone is cloned.
1) Use ClevGuard Anti-Spyware to Detect
You can suspect that your phone is cloned or in the process of getting cloned if your phone contains spyware. Cybercriminals deploy spyware on the target device to extract all the data stored on the device. To find out the presence of spyware on your phone, you need to install ClevGuard Anti-Spyware app.
The app not only scans your phone to point out spyware presence but also provides real-time protection to prevent the entry of any spyware. After detecting any spyware, you can delete it instantly with a single tap.
How To Detect Spyware with ClevGuard Anti-Spyware
Step 1: Click the below button to Google Play Store download page. Or go to Google Play Store and search for “ClevGuard”. Install ClevGuard app and launch it.
Step 2: When the app opens, tap on Scan option to find out any spyware or threats on your phone.
After scanning, you will see the search results containing all the threats and you can tap on Resolve All button to fix them.
Step 3: Now, tap on Real-Time Protection tab at the bottom.
On the next screen, toggle on the Real-Time Protection option.
2) If you are getting usual text messages asking you to restart your phone
Hackers send such text messages to the victims so that they restart their phone. While restarting, the device must turn off and disconnect the connection with the phone carrier. This gives the hackers an opportunity to establish a connection with the phone carrier with the cloned credentials of the victim's phone and SIM.
3) If you start getting unusually high cellphone bill amount
If your cellphone bill amount is coming unusually high and you cannot find any reason for such a high amount, the thought of your phone being cloned should arise immediately. When a phone is cloned, all the calls and messages charges from the cloned phone are levied on the original phone number holder. Therefore, do not neglect such bills and start inspecting with the help of your phone carrier.
4) If you suddenly stop receiving calls and texts even when you have good network connection
If someone has cloned your phone number and using it on another device, it is very likely that all your calls and messages are getting diverted to that device. Naturally, even when you have a good network connection, you will not be receiving any call or text. This is one of the vital signs on how do you know if your phone has been hacked or cloned. Ask your friend to make a call to your number and see if it is getting diverted and ringing.
5) If you find your device in an unusual location on Find My Phone
If you use an iPhone, log into Find My iPhone. Check the location of your phone and if it shows an unusual location instead of your current location, you can suspect that your phone is cloned. For Android smartphone users, you can use Google's Find My Device to check the current location of your smartphone. This unusual location could actually be the current location of the fraudster who cloned your phone.
6) If you receive a message stating that your SIM has been updated
If the fraudster has successfully executed SIM hijacking and activated the cloned SIM of your phone number on his device, you will get a message from your phone carrier that your SIM has been updated. This is a confirmed sign that your phone is cloned. Call your phone carrier's customer care and take the necessary action.
7) If you are logged out of your accounts and your cannot log in
The main reason for phone cloning by fraudsters is to get access to online accounts and get sensitive and confidential information. The fraudsters can use them for blackmailing, defaming, stealing money, and whatnot.
Therefore, if they successfully clone your phone, they will attempt to log into your accounts by opting for forget password option and eventually changing the credentials. Therefore, on your phone, you will be logged out of the accounts and you will not be able to log back in as you do not have the new credentials set by the fraudsters.
4. How to Prevent Phone Cloning
Now that you know how to tell if your phone has been cloned, let us focus on how to prevent phone cloning. Here are the things to follow:
Verify The Phone Carrier Texts – Fraudsters send the victims text messages with labels of phone carriers to trick them to fall into their trap. Therefore, if you receive unusual messages such as restart your device, SIM verification required from your phone carrier, you should make sure if they are legitimately coming from your phone carrier. Check on the internet to find out the details about the number from where the messages are coming from.
Be Skeptical On Action Messages – Whenever you receive messages where you are asked to take action, like download this app, click on this link, or do it urgently, it is better if you do not do anything. These messages are sent by fraudsters so that the user takes the necessary action and they get an entry door into their device.
Install ClevGuard Anti-Spyware – The best way to prevent phone cloning is to install ClevGuard Anti-Spyware app. This app has real-time protection to prevent any spyware from getting downloaded on your device. Cybercriminals use spyware to get phone and SIM info of their victims for phone cloning.
Secure Your Phone Unique Identifiers – Unique identifiers like IMEI, ESN, and MEID serial numbers are highly confidential. Therefore, never share them with anyone either verbally or digitally on apps and websites.
Hopefully, you have got an elaborate answer to the question how do i know if my phone has been cloned. You should always be aware and vigilant and keep the signs and symptoms in your mind. If your phone is cloned, you should come to know about it immediately and take action to block the cloned device as soon as possible. For the prevention of phone cloning, you should install ClevGuard Anti-Spyware app to prevent cybercriminals from getting an entry into your phone.