Can an iPhone be hacked? Yes, here's how to be careful

Can an iPhone be hacked? Yes, here’s how to be careful

IPhone hacks aren’t incredibly common, but it can still happen that your iPhone gets hacked if you’re not careful.

From malware and cheat apps downloaded from the App Store for targeted attacks on a specific device, your information can be stolen in a myriad of different ways.

Here we will break down the common types of iPhone hacks and tell you how to know if you have been hacked and what to do about it.

How can you hack an iPhone

Hacking occurs when someone else gains access to private information on your device or controls it without your consent. It’s a broad term and runs on a bad to very serious gradient. Some hackers want to make a quick buck by selling ads. Others want to hurt you.

Experts have stated that there are a few main types of iPhone hacks:

Suspicious websites or links

Just like on your computer, your iPhone can be hacked by clicking on a suspicious website or link. If a website looks “off”, check the logos, spelling or URL.

Try to avoid connecting to a public Wi-Fi network without a password, which opens up the possibility for a hacker to access unencrypted traffic on your device or redirect you to a fraudulent site to access your login credentials.

Messages from numbers you don’t recognize are also suspicious.

Fortunately, modern smartphones are good at resisting malware and ransomware.

Suspicious apps on the App Store

Apple devices exist in a much more closed and monitored digital ecosystem than Android devices.

The company has a vetting process for apps in its store, but it’s not bulletproof.

Ning Zhang, who heads the Computer Security and Privacy Laboratory at Washington University in Saint Louis, said he should beware of apps that require more information than they will need to function.

For example, if you’ve downloaded a wallpaper app or flashlight and it asks for your location or contact list, camera or microphone, this is a red flag. Probably, the developers are tricking you into providing this information so it can be sold.

“I’d be a little skeptical about that and consider if I really want that wallpaper app,” he said. “Being vigilant, even with the official apps, is useful. If we can do that, I think for the average person, you should be pretty sure. “

How can you hack an iPhone

Intimate partner hacks

Abusive partners can take your phone and dump it spyware (or stalkerware) when you’re not watching. This malicious software can be used to track your location or to make private information such as text messages, call history and emails accessible to them.

All they need is your password and physical access to your phone. Experts we spoke to said this is sadly common. This abuse can be psychologically traumatizing and devastating to someone’s personal and public life. If you notice apps that you don’t remember downloading, this could be a sign, although many times the spyware app is invisible on the home screen.

Unfortunately, this problem is not easy to solve. Victims can risk their safety by deleting apps or checking for malware if and when abusers notice these actions.

Targeted attacks

The average person will likely not be detected and targeted remotely by hackers because it is expensive, sometimes costing millions to hack new phones, said Matthew Green, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Internet Security Institute.

Journalists and activists are most at risk for this type of hack.

One form of targeted hacking works like this: Hackers exploit unknown flaws in iOS programming that not even its developers are aware of yet. With this knowledge, hackers can install malware to obtain data from targeted sources.

“This is a very sophisticated set of hacks and often you won’t even know what happened to you,” Green said. “If it’s someone that’s really sophisticated, they’ll send you an invisible text message and your phone will be compromised for a while.”

Bugs are known as exploits “zero-day“, Corresponding to the fact that Apple will discover a possible security problem in its software the same day it will work to fix it. By the time the world knows, it’s only a matter of time before the hack becomes obsolete. That’s why these expensive hacks are often kept under wraps from the people, or governments, who buy them, Green said.

How to protect yourself from an iPhone hack

IPhones can be absolutely hacked, but they are safer than most Android phones.

Some cheap Android smartphones may never get an update, while Apple has been supporting older iPhone models with software updates for years, while maintaining their security. This is why it is important to update your iPhone.

Apps on the App Store are also scanned for malware (although there are questionable apps that go unnoticed).

However, if you are considering jailbreaking your iPhone by removing software restrictions placed on iOS, you are exposing yourself to potential software vulnerabilities because you have eliminated some of Apple’s existing security measures. It is possible to download incompatible spyware or malware apps onto a jailbroken phone, and this is also how remote capture with iPhone can occur. A jailbroken phone should be avoided as it can dangerously allow malicious apps to go undetected.

If you back up your phone to iCloud, make sure you have a secure password. If someone gets hold of your password, they don’t even need to hack your phone because they can download a backup from the cloud.

hacked iphone how to defend yourself

Enabling Apple’s two-factor authentication is another good way to stay safe and can prevent your iCloud account (Apple ID) from being hacked by requiring another verification step.

Vyas Sekar, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, said staying safe means “good digital hygiene”.

“Install apps from trusted sources, and unless you know what you’re doing, you probably don’t want to jailbreak your phone,” Sekar said. “Be careful. Don’t click on attachments you don’t want to open and keep your phone up to date. “

How to know if your iPhone has been hacked

You can’t always tell if your iPhone has been hacked, Sekar said. But you may notice a few things.

  • The phone is unusually hot or dies frequently.
  • Your phone is slow when you try to load websites.
  • The battery runs out even when you don’t touch the phone.

These symptoms indicate that the phone is always on, even when you are not using it. Sometimes, the best indicators come from the outside, like when friends say they’re getting weird messages from you. However, the more sophisticated hacks can be somewhat invisible.

There is no precise way to check for every type of hack. Experts told us that a reliable way to investigate is to download a mobile security app called iVerifywhich scans the phone’s operating system for suspicious behavior and can also detect if the phone has been jailbroken.

What to do when your iPhone has been hacked

If you know your phone has been hacked, you have a few options depending on what happened.

For minor issues, like an app stealing your information, delete the app and update the software.

In severe cases, we recommend that you erase your iPhone and restore it to factory settings. But even if you do, it may be completely clear whether you’ve gotten rid of the malware installed on your phone, especially if it’s been jailbroken.

your iPhone has been hacked

Finding an inspection expert may be your best bet. Green from Johns Hopkins said your phone can’t always be taken care of.

“I hate to say this, but if you really, really need to be safe, get a new phone,” Green said. “If someone actually enters your phone, and it’s a very high barrier for iPhones, they can install things like keyloggers, which means that every key press, every letter you type is sent to someone. Until you’re sure it’s gone, you can’t be sure you have any privacy. “

If you can’t get a new phone right away, chances are a hacked iPhone isn’t safe to use, so it’s best to leave it off.

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