How phones are usually hacked is when the user downloads a piece of malware that then gives the hacker remote access to the device. This requires a bit of effort to convince the target to download said malware. But now it looks like there is a newly-discovered hack, called “GhostTouch”, that will not need malware at all for it to work.
This is according to a report from NordVPN who cited the discovery as having been made by researchers from China and Germany at Zhejiang University and the Technical University of Darmstadt respectively.
How it works is that it uses electromagnetic signals to simulate gestures, like swiping, tapping, and so on, which in turn allows the hacker to remotely control the device and use it without the user’s knowledge. While it does sound scary, there are several important things to note about this hack.
For starters, the hackers would need to place a device close to their target’s phone from a range of up to 40mm. Secondly, this attack isn’t very discreet because if the target were looking at their device, they would be able to see it operate seemingly by itself, which might be a dead giveaway that they have been hacked.
Lastly, it only works on devices that have either already been unlocked or does not use any form of lockscreen security. This means that if your phone is protected with a PIN, passcode, or biometric security, you should be relatively safe.
It is unclear if all phones are susceptible to this hack. Based on the research, it appears that at least nine smartphones tested were found to be vulnerable, which includes handsets like the 2020 iPhone SE, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G, the Redmi 8, and the Nokia 7.2, just to name a few.