NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — A Ward father's phone was compromised when hackers got a hold of his personal information and accounts, threatening to blackmail him.
John Rawson was going about his normal day Wednesday. He was driving to his job in North Little Rock when he realized suspicious activity going on with his phone.
“I kept getting notifications off my phone. I got to work and it was a bunch of text messages,” Rawson said. “They were constantly texting back and forth, back and forth through my phone. It was showing that I was sending the text messages."
He said someone hacked his Galaxy Note 6 and was holding a conversation with someone from an Illinois area code. He said the hacker then threatened Rawson himself.
“They tried to blackmail me with photos. [They were] saying you have to pay us a thousand dollars to erase all these messages or we'll send them out to friends and family on FB,” Rawson said.
He said the whole situation was scary, because he felt completely out of control.
“They had pictures off my wife's Facebook account. My wife's mother's Facebook account. My Facebook account. The had pictures of my daughters,” Rawson said.
Nick Adrian is a computer engineer and said hackers are coming up with new ways to compromise phones every day.
"Every phone can get hacked. Every computer can get hacked,” Adrian said. "They can take all your photos and hold them ransom. They can watch your emails, they can watch your text messages."
Adrian said this is concerning because our emails are hooked up to a lot of very personal information on phones. They can easily access things like bank account and social security numbers.
“By watching your emails, they can see if you are requesting to change your password or they can see an actual password through your e-mails,” he said.
Adrian said the most common ways phones get hacked are when people download bad apps or click on suspicious text messages that include links to a website.
“[They'll disguise] themselves as your bank by saying 'Hey! Click here. We need you to download this app for us. This is our new banking system.' If they're asking for you to log in, they'll usually take that information from you,” he said.
He also recommends not logging into personal accounts through public WiFi. So, if you're at your local coffee shop, make sure your Wi-Fi is turned off.
“They'll be spying on whatever you're doing. If you are going to log into a bank, log onto a virtual private network,” Adrian said.
So, Adrian's biggest advice?
“Don't click on links that you don't know. Don't go to websites you don't know. Also, download an antivirus program,” he said.
As for Rawson, he said he has no idea how his phone got hacked.
"I might've downloaded a few games here and there but they were all high-rated game apps,” Rawson said.
But he just wants other people to hear his story, so it doesn't happen to anyone else.
“What if they showed up to my daughters daycare or my wife's work?” he said. “It's just a really scary experience, to know somebody could have all my information.”
Rawson did contact the North Little Rock Police Department. They said they cannot file a police report because not much can be done in cases like this.
He said he did not have a problem with the hackers again Thursday.