Cellular Phone Hacking

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What Does Cellular Phone Hacking Mean?

Cellular phone hacking is a questionable practice whereby a third party gains access to an individual’s cellular phone through a variety of methods. The legality of cell phone hacking is heavily dependent on who is doing the hacking. For example, law enforcement and national governments often use cell phone hacking methods to apprehend criminals and monitor dissidents.


There have been many high profile instances of illegal cell phone hacking, particularly of celebrity phones. In 2007, a former journalist of the tabloid “News of the World” was charged with attempting to hack the phones of royal aides. In 2011, the same tabloid came under fire for hacking the voicemail of a 13 year old girl who was missing, possibly interfering with the investigation into what eventually proved to be her murder.

This term is also known as cell phone hacking, cell phone spying, phone hacking, or phreaking.

Techopedia Explains Cellular Phone Hacking

Simply put, cell phone hacking occurs when someone else gets into your phone. Depending on their motives, the hacker may simply view data stored on the phone, broadcast your location or send messages to your contacts under your name.

However, more serious instances of cell phone hacking involve hackers:

  • Deleting data
  • Adding malicious programs
  • Gaining access to sensitive information like bank accounts
  • Transcribing private conversations
  • Storing copies of texts and emails

Common ways that a hacker gains access to your cellular phone include:

  • Bluehacking – gaining access to your phone when it is a discoverable device on an unprotected Bluetooth network
  • Unnoticed access to an unlocked phone left unattended in a public space
  • Mimicry of a trusted network or cell phone tower
  • Phone cloning by copying the SIM card of the target phone
  • Malware apps that install malicious software or make changes to firmware
  • Phishing via mobile optimized sites
  • Fraudulent account resets using known information about the user (phone number, birth date, address and so on)

With so many methods available and more sensitive data being stored on smartphones and mobile devices, cellular phone security has become a major concern.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.