Has my phone been hacked? What next?
October 31, 2014 8:18 AM   Subscribe

My (never rooted) Samsung Galaxy S4 has been exhibiting some strange behavior. How can I tell if I have a virus or if there's a more innocuous explanation?

Two nights ago, I plugged my phone in and turned it on airplane mode. I then laid my phone upside down on top of my (metal) laptop, which was off and unplugged. The next morning, while still half asleep, I thought I heard a voice on speakerphone coming from the phone, but I dismissed the thought. A few minutes later, I was fully awakened by the light on the phone randomly turning on. I went over and got the phone, pressed the button to wake the phone's screen, and swiped to unlock as usual. I don't have any kind of password at the moment. The phone opened to the home screen, as usual, and I turned off the flashlight the way I normally do, by pressing the widget controller on my home screen.

Then, I glanced at the status bar at the top of the screen and saw an icon that meant that the phone's default "Voice Recorder" app was on. It was recording, and had been for 30 seconds. I stopped the recording and listened to the file: it was mostly just the normal noise of the fan in my room, but about 15 seconds in, I can hear the 1-second vibration my phone makes when it finishes charging and it's on silent mode. I rarely hear this noise unless I'm listening for it, so it doesn't surprise me that I missed it. However, my phone doesn't lose battery while plugged in unless a bunch of stuff is running. There was also another 2-second recording from 6 minutes earlier. It's just fan noise. Both the Voice Recorder app and the Flashlight widget are on my home screen.

Also, my wifi was on, even though it normally goes off when I active airplane mode unless I specifically turn it back on. I wouldn't have turned it back on last night, though, because I unplugged my wifi long before I went to bed. Unfortunately, I didn't check to see if it was connected to some other network at the time, but I don't have any network names I don't recognize in my list of remembered networks, at least.

So... what the??? Was I hacked? Was my laptop conducting electricity to my phone somehow? Do I have a ghost?

Ultimately, I just want to know if I should be concerned. I have Lookout, but it detected nothing. I also got 360 Security after this happened and ran a scan and it didn't detect anything either. Could someone have accessed my phone remotely when it was in airplane mode? Could some rogue program have been lurking on my phone? Is something still lurking? What can I do to secure my phone? Why would apps randomly be opening and running? Is there a scheduler of some kind that might be responsible for this?

Oh my gosh you guys, do I have a ghost?
posted by lesli212 to Technology (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Chargers can sometimes cause touchscreen interference when your phone is plugged in. 'Ghost' touches are a common symptom of this.
posted by dcjd at 8:26 AM on October 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've seen mentions of this type of thing on various Android forums for a few years, and it seems to be most prevalent with Samsung phones, though that may just be because of how big their market share is. The problem is often fixed by changing the charger or just the cord.
posted by gimli at 8:51 AM on October 31, 2014

Best answer: I have a rooted S4 on VZ. I have had my settings change after a backup and after a full discharge of the battery (although reading the above answers it might have been the charging back up that did it?).

I do not think there is a rogue program running nor a scheduler. (Do you have tasker?). As for the ghosts, I cannot answer that with any certainty.
posted by 724A at 9:18 AM on October 31, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks, y'all, that must be it. I got a second charger a couple weeks ago. I hope I still have the receipt!

Kinda disappointed I don't have a ghost, though....
posted by lesli212 at 9:44 AM on October 31, 2014

« Older Washington State Adoptee Original Birth...   |   Buying a low-end Macbook? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.