The straightforward answer is, No, you cannot get hacked just by replying to a text. But, there is more to the story. So, read further to know more in more detail…
Nowadays, our smartphone is not just a phone to make calls, but it has so much information and data related to us that it is one of the prime targets of hackers. A hacker would like it more to hack your phone rather than your computer because of the usage. In our smartphones, we use banking apps, and other sensitive information-related apps as well.
That is the reason, you have to be very careful while using your phone so that you don’t make any mistakes and get hacked. I am saying this because you never get hacked until you make some mistake somewhere.
One of my friends who is not into technical stuff, has recently been worried. When I asked him, what happened? He said that he has been receiving many spam messages, and he replied to a few considering they are normal messages saying words like “Who are you?”, “From where you got my contact”, and such messages he replied. And, someone has told him that his phone might be hacked due to this. Thus, he asked me can his phone get hacked just by replying to a text message.
I discussed this in more detail with him and clarified his doubts that just replying like this won’t get you hacked. I thought to write the same in this article for other people who might have this question in their mind.
The Claim: Your Phone Can Be Hacked by Replying to a Text
As various types of scams are prevalent everywhere, and especially, phone-related scams are becoming ubiquitous, more and more wrong information is circulated such as if you receive a call, your phone will be hacked, or you open a message, and you will get hacked.
I understand, being a non-techy, people get scared of hearing things, and that is why this question arises as well as whether just replying to a text would help the hacker get access to your phone or not.
As per my knowledge, No, your phone cannot be hacked by just replying to a text. But, here is the catch, if you are replying with some sensitive information that is asked in the text, there will be a high chance that your security will be compromised.
Let’s break this down further and discuss this in more detail.
Why Your Phone Can’t Be Hacked by Replying to a Text?
See, when you receive a text, no matter from whom, you type a reply and send it back to the user. This way, you are not giving any access to your phone, so, there is no way that the scammer would be able to gain access to your phone.
Access to your phone’s system is generally gained through the exploitation of the device’s permissions. This type of exploitation often occurs when you interact with your phones in certain ways, such as downloading and launching apps that you don’t know about, visiting malicious websites, etc. That is why it is advisable not to click links in the text if you don’t know who has sent you that text.
Let me explain this using an example, consider the scenario where you receive a text message with a link to a website. Before thinking anything, you just click on that link, and it can potentially lead to the download of malware onto your device. However, it’s the action of clicking the link, not merely replying to the text, that initiates this process of getting your phone’s security compromised.
Thus, just replying to a text, won’t get your phone hacked, but your other actions like clicking on suspicious links, sending confidential information in the text, etc. may get your phone hacked.
Text-Based Hacking in Detail
While responding to a text message alone is unlikely to compromise your device, it’s essential to know more about text-based hacking to make yourself aware. So, that when someone tries this on you, you will be better careful.
Here, we explore various facets of this issue:
Social Engineering Tactics
To know the real risks of being hacked, it’s important to understand social engineering tactics because we all spend a lot of time on social media sites. Hackers manipulate human psychology to deceive you into revealing confidential information or taking harmful actions. They create a sense of emergency, and in that you may not suspect anything and you do the thing that you must not. And, this will help hackers to hack your phone. Generally, they befriend you on social platforms, keep checking your activity, and design tactics that would look quite convincing to you, and you make a mistake.
The Art of Phishing
Phishing is a prevalent form of text-based hacking, and you can verify this by looking at the statistics. Phishing messages often mimic legitimate entities like banks or government agencies, creating a false sense of urgency or trust to prompt recipients to act. For example, you must have gotten calls from scammers saying that your Debit card will be deactivated, and to activate it, please share your ID card and card number. They will also make stories, and get more details from you, and eventually, if you make a mistake by sharing all the confidential information, they will get access to your device. Thus, it is always said not to share your confidential details on the phone even if someone says they are from the bank.
Must Read: Phishing Vs Spear Phishing
I have got such calls so many times; but being into tech, I was aware, and they couldn’t get anything from me. But, many people get into their trap and lose their hard-earned money.
Why You Can Be Hacked by Responding to a Text Message?
Understanding the potential risks of text-based attacks is important because it is pretty prevalent nowadays. While responding to a text message alone may not compromise your device, consider the following factors that can make you vulnerable to getting hacked
- Crafted Urgency: Text messages that create a sense of urgency can push you to take immediate actions, such as clicking on links or providing personal information. The belief that quick action is necessary can lead to compromising your security. Thus, make a rule for you that you will never click a suspicious link in urgency, and also won’t share personal details with anyone. Take time, think about it, verify everything then only take action.
- Manipulated Trust: Cybercriminals often exploit trust relationships by impersonating familiar entities, such as banks or acquaintances. Trusting the source of a message can result in users taking actions that put them at risk. This becomes very difficult, thus, always read messages and hear calls from your bank about security and scams. Yes, they usually inform you about not sharing any of your details by phone or SMS because they don’t ask for such details over call or SMS. If someone does, that won’t be from the bank.
Protecting Yourself from Text Message Hacking
To protect yourself from text-based hacking, you must educate yourself with authentic tips which I am sharing below. If you follow these, you will be able to avoid falling victim to these types of text-based scams:
- Avoid Clicking on Unfamiliar Links: When you receive a text from an unknown number, don’t click on links in those messages, especially if they come from unknown senders or websites you don’t recognize. Even if it looks very urgent, always take time to verify the source before taking any action.
- Careful While Sharing Personal Information: Refrain from providing personal information or financial details unless you are certain about the legitimacy of the request. Don’t just share everything if you get a call or message pretending to be from some authentic source.
- Be Wary of Unsolicited Gift Card Requests: If you receive unexpected text messages asking you to buy gift cards or make payments, treat them with suspicion. Either verify the authenticity of such requests directly with the individuals involved or just disregard such requests.
- Confirm Urgent Requests: Even in urgent situations, take a moment to verify the legitimacy of any request that is related to clicking on links, or sharing personal or financial information. Never take action in haste because such requests are made that way that they create a sense of urgency to trap you.
- Check for Grammatical Errors: Be vigilant about the language and grammar used in text messages. Legitimate messages from reputable organizations generally do not contain glaring grammatical or spelling errors. I have been getting such emails and messages so many times, and every time I see scammers do it, their text is full of grammatical mistakes.
One of the examples, I have shared on this blog is when I got a scam email asking me to pay them a hefty amount as they have my video watching some adu*t videos. You can read the full story here. They created a sense of emergency but I was smart enough to understand and ignored that.
- Educate Yourself: Keep yourself informed about common scam tactics and stay up-to-date on cybersecurity best practices. Knowledge is your best defense against text-based attacks.
Understanding text-based hacking and how to protect yourself is the need of the hour. While responding to a text message may not directly lead to hacking, it’s the subsequent actions prompted by the message that can put you at risk. For example, if they ask you to share your ID card number and debit card number, and you just give them via text, there will be chances of your security getting compromised.
By staying cautious and informed, you can reduce the risk of falling victim to text-based hacking attempts. Your digital safety is in your hands, and with the right knowledge, you can defend against potential threats.