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I lent my mobile data to someone's computer and was not in the room while they were using it.

Suppose they wanted to gain control/access to my android device. How easy would it be? As far as I know, malware can infect android phones mostly through malicious apk getting installed. Would it be possible for the owner of the computer I was sharing the network with to somehow remotely gain access to my device?

My android device is up to date and is not rooted.

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  • "My android device is up to date" - as in "no more updates from the vendor" or "no known security issues"? This might be very different depending on the update policy of the vendor. Also in the past there were several vulnerabilities which allowed attacking the phone through WiFi or Bluetooth stack, which required not even physical access but only nearby presence. Apart from that it is not clear what methods you use to protect your phone against unauthorized physical access (i.e. fingerprint, passphrase, ...) and how strong these really are against this specific attacker. Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 7:06
  • In other words: one cannot definitely say that the device can't be hacked this way. One can say though that it is typically not trivial. Details depend on how well the device is actually protected against unauthorized access, how capable the attacker is and how much time they had, how well the device is really protected against known attacks, ... - all unknown. Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 7:15

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For almost all questions asked "is it possible to hack" the answer is yes. There's questions of viability, cost, difficulty and so on, but there's rarely one scenario that is technically impossible. So instead of asking if some hack is possible, ask how likely it is.

In your case, someone close to your phone could in theory break into it without even connecting to your hotspot. As Steffen commented, Bluetooth and wifi code has had vulnerabilities that would enable an attacker in radio range to compromise the OS and execute commands.

Depending on the apps you have, an attacker could download files from your computer. For example, ES File Explorer had this vulnerability years ago:

The ES File Explorer File Manager application through 4.1.9.7.4 for Android allows remote attackers to read arbitrary files or execute applications via TCP port 59777 requests on the local Wi-Fi network. This TCP port remains open after the ES application has been launched once, and responds to unauthenticated application/json data over HTTP.

If you had the vulnerable version of ES File Explorer and had executed it at least once, anyone on your hotspot could download your files, upload files, execute apps, and install apps (if you gave ES File Explorer permission to install apps).

Android has a smaller attack surface than Windows desktop, but the surface exists. It's not possible to protect every single component, and it's not possible to prevent every single attack. Some attacks will depend on installed apps, others on the installed Android version, and others on the hardware itself. And if your handset is not receiving updates anymore, you will not even know if there's any vulnerability in it.

How likely is it that you got hacked? No idea. It depends on the skills of the friend using your hotspot, but I would say that, in general, the risks are pretty low.

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