The world has been revolutionized by advancements in mobile technology over the past several decades. However, the popularity of smartphones has made them targets for hackers. If you have an iPhone, then you likely have important data stored on it in the form of documents, photos, texts, and apps. Having your iPhone hacked remotely would mean you could lose control over this prized device, and even your identity. In this post, we will discuss what signs to watch for and how to fix the problem.
To learn how to prevent an iPhone attack, see our post Steps to Secure Your Smartphone From Online Attacks here.
How Does Remote iPhone Hacking Happen?
Just one specially-crafted message can expose your personal information to a hacker, including your authentication credentials stored in your device.
There is vulnerability to iOS, which spans across all Apple operating systems, which allows for a stagefright-type bug to penetrate. A hacker can simply send an MMS or iMessage attached to a TIFF image file to carry out the attack. They can also come through Safari web browsers via social engineering tricks that get the user to visit a dangerous website. Once the imaging service starts operating on the file, it will run automatically without user involvement. The loss of data is potentially huge, and these attacks are very hard to detect by the average user.
If these attacks succeed, a user could have their wi-fi passwords, email logins, and device authentication credentials leaked.
So, all hackers have to do is get their harmful programs onto your iPhone and then they can use it for their own means, largely without you knowing it until its too late.
Jailbroken iPhones Are More At Risk
Since iOS includes sandbox protection to prevent hackers from exploiting and controlling the entire OS, a hacker would require a further iOS jailbreak or root exploit to take total complete control of the iPhone.
Jailbroken iPhones make it so the device can install apps that Apple would not allow on its Apple App Store. This frees up the user to use whatever app they want from alternative app marketplaces. However, it also makes the iPhone vulnerable to hacker’s dangerous apps. So, it is recommended to not jailbreak your iPhone or buy one that has been jailbroken.
Other weaknesses such as a FaceTime vulnerability have been shown to allow an attacker to keep transmitting audio data after a call has been completed.
However, Apple isn’t standing still on this issue as they have released continuous updates and patches to prevent these threats. Users are advised to install updates and patches as soon as they are released as hackers can take advantage of their iPhones in a short amount of time.
Is Your iPhone Hacked Remotely – The Signs
Some symptoms that you iPhone is hacked remotely may appear as overall strange iPhone behavior. But there are others as well.
1. Your iPhone has Disappeared Recently
The most obvious sign that your iPhone may be hacked is that it has disappeared for a few days and is at an unknown location. If this happened in a public place, it may have been tampered with.
2. Re-Opening of Files Over And Over Again
If files start to re-open multiple times without your interference, this could be a sign your iPhone has been hacked remotely.
3. Program Interruptions
If programs you use are being mysteriously interrupted on a regular basis, this could also be a sign your iPhone has been hacked remotely. However, a faulty app could also cause this problem, so it is important to check each app individually.
4. Slow iPhone Performance
If your iPhone starts to slow down and then speeds up again, this could be a sign of a problem. It could be due to too many apps running or the storage being full. But it could also be because of a hacker harvesting your data through malware.
5. Unrecognized Apps and Icons
Unrecognized Apps and icons could mean a hacker has taken control of your iPhone’s system and is using it to remotely access your data. Mysterious apps could be installed on your iPhone that could be working against you.
Do a review of all your apps to make sure you have only those you actually use. Delete the apps that you do not recognize and do not need after you have done any necessary research.
6. Your iPhone Locks You Out
If your iPhone is locked and asking for payment to unlock it, then it is likely being used by a criminal to scam you. Immediately take action to resolve this issue if your iPhone does this.
7. The Mobile Infrastructure Could Be Hacked
Your iPhone could be perfectly fine and still be compromised due to the overall mobile infrastructure being hacked. This includes attacks on:
- The Carrier
- The provider
- Any network nodes
If you think this is the case, contact your carrier or provider to get further information regarding this issue.
It is important to note that hackers try to stay as hidden and silent as possible, so there may be no direct way of knowing if your iPhone is being hacked remotely.
8. An Increase in Online Data Usage
If there is a significant jump in data usage even though you are using your iPhone normally, then it could be compromised. So, review your data usage to make sure there is not anything unusual, especially on days when you do not use the internet very much. There are apps you can install that monitor app network usage. Apps that are not dangerous could also be the cause of this, so it will take some detective work to find the answer.
Prevention: Have a Security Strategy
Having a security strategy is key to preventing your iPhone from being hacked. The main way to do this is by having safe online behavior and being proactive. There is a tremendous amount of personal data stored on your iPhone, so keeping it protected with the right behaviors is critical.
How to Fix Your iPhone
1. Immediately Contact Apple
Paying a ransom to unlock your iPhone is one way to solve the problem, but it is definitely not optimal. Contacting Apple about your situation is the best way to get the device secure and back to normal operation. If you do pay the hacker, there is a high probability they still will not give you back your password or stop using your iPhone.
2. Circumvent A Hacked Password
A hacker can put their own password on your iPhone, but you can get around this. Apple has provided guidelines for sidestepping an iPhone. Doing this will help to get your iPhone back in working order and under your control.
3. Change Your Apple Password and ID
Once you have taken back ownership of your password, the next step is to change it. Also, change your Apple ID to make sure the hacker cannot get entry into your iPhone again. There is a guide on Apple’s website on how to change these. Be sure the new password is a strong one.
You can also read our Steps to Secure Your Smartphone From Online Attacks here for more information.
4. Install a System and Security Info App
A system and security info app will provide you with information regarding any type of dangerous program that has installed on your iPhone. This will help you stay informed about your phone’s security status.
5. Enable Two-step Verification
Two-step verification can help secure your iPhone by requiring a pin code to enter each time it is accessed. This code will be sent to another device that is assigned by you. This adds another step that is required to access your iPhone and will help keep it protected from thieves.
6. Perform a Factory Reset
A factory reset will clear your iPhone of any dangerous apps and allow you to start over with only those that you need. Afterward, only install apps you know and are considered safe. Your iPhone’s backup could be storing a dangerous app or program, so do not restore it from this. After this is complete, add a new strong password to your iPhone and keep it in a safe place.
It is recommended to contact Apple or read further guidelines before performing this operation.
7. Uninstall All Google and Facebook Related Apps
Social media apps are a target for hackers and provide them with enormous access to user data and behavior. If you suspect your iPhone is hacked remotely, direct your attention to these. Remove them as your first step, if you choose to.
8. Undo A Jailbreak
First backup all your files to iTunes or iCloud. Reversing a jailbreak will wipe all apps and files from your device. This will put your iPhone back to stock factory settings. Before proceeding, make sure your battery is 70% full and “Find My iPhone” is turned off.
For further steps and info on how to undo a jailbreak, read this article by gadgethacks.com >
Having your iPhone hacked remotely can be a really big problem if you rely on it for work and school. A large amount of personal data is stored on these devices that a hacker can use to make money. Some signs show clearly that your iPhone has been compromised, and others not so much. It is up to the user to take extra precautions and adopt good security practices to decrease the chances their iPhone could be hacked remotely.
For more information, read our post Can iPhones Be Hacked?