What happens when a mobile phone is hacked?

mobile phones

Today, in the modern world, internet has become one of the essential things for survival. Usage of internet has tremendously increased in the world. The mobile phones along with internet have made the communication easier, faster and efficient. We reach out to the mobile phones for each and every information. The very easy feasibility of information at fingertips has increased its usage and popularity. Though more number of populations is aware of the technology, they are not aware of the dangers and consequences that it might bring.

Cyber crimes are invading the privacy of the common mobile phone users. Majority of the population that uses mobile phones are not aware of their data breach and identity theft. The sensitive information stored in the mobile phones is prone to cyber attacks. The internet provides with ways in which mobiles can be hacked through simple tutorials.

Mobile phones-Communication Device:

Under Information Technology Act, 2000 mobile phones are placed under the category of Communication devices. Section 2(1) (ha) of the Act defines communication devices. Communication devices means cell phones, personal digital assistance or combination of both or any other device used to communicate, send or transmit any text, video audio or image.[i]

These audios, texts and images are information under the purview of the Act and this information are meant to be protected under the Act. Any failure in protection of such information and communication devices may result in cyber security issues.[ii]

Does a smart phone come under the term computer?

As per section 2(1) (l) of the Act any device or a collection of device including input and output support systems that are capable of performing logic, arithmetic, data storage, retrieval and communication control comes under the category of computer. Modern day smart phones are capable of doing all these functions and hence they come under the purview of computer. The offences that are performed against the computer devices are as same as those that are performed against the smart phones. The relevant provisions that are applicable to the former apply to latter as well.

Cyber crimes can be widely classified under three categories:-

  • Crimes against individuals.
  • Crimes against property.
  • Crimes against government.

Crimes against individuals include cyber stalking, cyber bullying, forwarding obscene content; stealing sensitive information from their devices, hate speeches etc. These crimes pose a serious threat to the society. One of such crime is cell phone hacking.

Definition of cell phone hacking

Cell phone hacking is the method through which third party gains access into an individual’s phone to steal any data from your phone, share your location or send messages to other numbers under your name.[iii]

Ways in which cell phones are hacked:

  • Blue hacking. The hackers try to get access into your phone through unprotected Bluetooth network.
  • Through apps that are installed in the phone which may contain malicious software. This software obtains access to the sensitive information in the mobile such as credit card details, access to camera, microphone and other details.
  • Mobile Phishing through sites that are viewed through mobile browser.- Gaining entry into the phone through a SMS that may contain links to the phishing websites and when the website is opened it asks for credential information. These credential information can be used for attacking the victim.
  • Fake tech support- A fake pop up will appear on the phone which warns the user about certain security issues and invites them to contact for their tech support. This influences the victims in purchasing useless services.
  • Through Trojan and other kinds of malware including mad ware, ransom ware- This involves a third party into the mobile phones through the advertisements that appear in the victim’s mobile phones. In this particular scenario, the victims themselves provide access to their devices by clicking allow to the terms and conditions.

Punishments available for Cell phone hacking:

  • Cyber stalking: One of the main threats to the social media users all around the world. The hackers obtain the personal information of the victims through the information that they post in their social media accounts and use that information against them. Cyber stalking is punishable under Section 66 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 with imprisonment for a term up to 3 years or fine upto Rs. 1 lakh or with both.
  • Cell phone hacking comes under Section 43 when any person obtains access to the cell phone of the owner without his permission. For any computer related offences as mentioned under Section 43 of the Act the person shall be imprisoned for a term which may extend to two to three years or with a fine which may extend to five lakh rupees or both.

Illustration:

One of the very common examples for cyber stalking happens through Face book. The photos, videos and location shared in an individual’s Face book account turns advantageous to local thief and they loot their entire house.

Credit card and bank details are hacked by the hackers through the browser cookies that are accessed by those hackers in an unauthorised manner.

In the very famous Puttasamy[iv] judgement, it referred to a Russian Legislature which holds the interception of Mobile telecommunication is invalid and violation of individual’s privacy rights.

Reports on cell phone hacking:

According to Internet Security Threat Report published by Symantec Corporation in the year 2019, one in 36 mobile devices has high risks apps installed. In the year 2019, there is an overall increase in the mobile ransom ware across the world for about 33%. A monthly average of 10,000 apps is being removed due to malicious software. 

Conclusion:

There is a tremendous increase in the use of smart phones and internet across the world. Though people are having knowledge about the usage of these devices, they are not aware of the dangers and consequences that it poses. There are huge imminent dangers in cyber world. The only way to reduce the cyber threats is to be aware of the possible cyber crimes and safeguard themselves from potential hazards.

Edited by Pragash Boopal

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

Reference

[i] Section 2 (1) (ha) of the Information Technology Act,2000.

[ii] Section 2 (nb) of The Information Technology Act,2000.

[iii] https://www.techopedia.com/definition/26355/cellular-phone-hacking

[iv] AIR 2018 SC 237