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So I opened a malicious URL with my Android phone. It took some 20 seconds to dawn on me after which I put it on airplane mode. I didn't enter any info in the meanwhile.

I tried to see if I can assess the level of danger but I gathered that this is impossible since the site could change how it behaves etc.

Searching online some say that I have to factory reset my device because there could be scripts in my device that can do all sorts of things. On some similar questions here I read about just clearing the cache and rebooting.

I am thinking about transferring all of my data to an SD card, factory resetting my device and then scanning the sd card, either with my laptop or with my phone (after installing an antivirus)

Does that make sense? Is it enough/overkill? Could my home network be compromised?

2 Answers 2

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The chance of getting hacked just by visiting a malicious URL is vanishingly small.

At the same time if a serious hacker targeted you, you're already SoL and need not to just to factory reset your device, but flash it clean because if the hacker got root access to your device, they could have modified the system partition and planted persistent malware which will survive factory reset.

Only a serious security researcher can assess what has happened to your device. You cannot even possibly provide all the required info to do that.

I'd recommend doing practically nothing. Yep, just like that. You may erase this website from your web browser history but it's pretty much meaningless.

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  • Thank you for your answer, I already accepted it but out of curiosity, why would anyone bother to send SMSs with a link that looks like something but isn't? Is there anythink to gain from this?
    – Manouil
    Jun 1, 2023 at 23:12
  • @Manouil usually money.
    – Wouter
    Jun 2, 2023 at 9:26
  • @Wouter of course but the site I was directed to didn't ask for any private info so if it didn't plant anything malicious on my device how can one make money?
    – Manouil
    Jun 3, 2023 at 11:07
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Generally, just clicking a link on an Android phone would not compromise your device. You should check the following:

  • Did the webpage download any files, or did you install any application that was provided by the webpage?
  • Is your Android version up-to-date, as well as your browser itself?

If you did not install anything and your software is up-to-date, the chance of compromise is low to minimal. Keep vigilant for any unexpected behaviour and in case you observe anything strange, you may always consider to reinstall your Android system.

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  • I can't see any files or apps, could there be a script that is hidden somehow? I believe everything is up to date. If I keep using my device, could sensitive info (banking credentials etc) be collected and sent?
    – Manouil
    May 31, 2023 at 16:49
  • Did the webpage download any files, or did you install any application that was provided by the webpage? If it was real malware which could have actually hacked the web browser or the OS, you wouldn't even get a notification of any files being downloaded. Everything would have happened in background without any signs. May 31, 2023 at 22:36
  • Is your Android version up-to-date, as well as your browser itself? That's a meaningless question. Oftentimes hackers exploit unknown not yet patched vulnerabilities, so there's zero warranty that you're safe even if your web browser and OS are both up to date. It's always best to assume that everything you use to access the Internet is compromised. Yes, just like that. Jun 2, 2023 at 7:17
  • @ArtemS.Tashkinov that is nonsense. Hackers do not 'oftentimes' use zero-day vulnerabilities on irrelevant targets. More often the culprit will be unpatched devices or devices that have been out of support entirely for a longer time.
    – Wouter
    Jun 2, 2023 at 9:25
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    @Wouter sources? proofs? confirmations? Are you working for NSA? CIA? Maybe Google Project Zero? Hackers do use zero days all the time or otherwise we wouldn't have an horde of PCs in various botnets. All modern OS'es and web browsers nowadays update automatically. Good luck attacking "outdated" web browsers unless you're talking about ages old unsupported devices e.g. running Windows XP/Android 6 (no longer receives Chrome updates) or something like that. And if you're running an outdated unsupported OS, you're basically f*cked. Tons of ad networks allow to use JS, including malware. Jun 2, 2023 at 9:44

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