Have You Been Hacked? How Secure Is Your iPhone?

Your iPhone contains a lot of personal information. In fact, it contains more and more every day. In the days of flip phones, you weren’t accessing your bank account and sending money from your phone – things have changed!

Worry about your phone’s security is natural. That’s why there is such a huge emphasis on security apps, two-factor authentication, and overall encryption throughout Apple’s messaging.

The truth is, Apple actually does a remarkably good job at keeping your data safe. There are very few cases of iPhones truly being ‘hacked’ and compromised. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

While its theoretically possible that your iPhone could become physically compromised, it’s far more likely that you would fall prey to a phishing scam, or accidentally have installed a malicious app. We want to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Here are a few key ways your iPhone can become compromised and how to prevent this.

Phishing Via Text Message

This is by far the most common way criminals try to prey on iPhone users. You may have gotten these texts before.

Often, it’s a text from a number claiming to be your financial institution. Sometimes it’s a text from a ‘friend’ telling you to check a photo of yourself from the night before. Sometimes it’s telling you to click a link to earn money or claim a reward.

Always be very suspicious of these text messages. They’ll usually contain a link and they’ll almost certainly be from an unrecognized number.

Whatever you do, do not click on the link. The link will direct you to a website that tries to obtain sensitive information (banking info, passwords, etc) and use it against you.
Sometimes, the link will be encouraging you to download an app. Again, do not do this.
Thankfully, we as a society have grown very suspicious of any message telling you to click anything or download anything.

Be aware that banks and most other institutions will not ask you to divulge personal information through text messages or through a link like this.

When these texts are received, delete them. If you feel the need, download a security app and run a scan on your phone.

Note that these messages can also come through apps like Facebook Messenger, Kik, or Snapchat.

Open Wifi Connections

You used to be able to find an open wifi network just by walking down the street. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. Open wifi networks are susceptible to eavesdroppers. They can observe unencrypted info on the wifi network.

While most wifi networks are closed, there are often public wifi networks in large public spaces like airports. Some restaurants and shops may also provide open wifi networks.

Theoretically, somebody could set up an open wifi network across the street from a cafe, and name it after the cafe hoping to catch unsuspecting customers.

You don’t need to avoid public wifi networks altogether, you simply need to exercise caution.

Try not to visit banking sites or sites with personal information while you are on public wifi.

Check to make the url of the website is the correct one. If it is a secure, encrypted connection (with Facebook for example), you will see a little lock beside the website url. This means your connections is secure.

img  secure connection - Have You Been Hacked? How Secure Is Your iPhone?

If you are unable to avoid visiting sites with personal information on a public wifi network, you can actually download a VPN app like Surfeasy VPN to protect your information. This app will give you 500 mbs of free encrypted surfing to set your mind at ease.

A Hacked iCloud Account

Apple is doing everything it can to make hacking into an iCloud difficult. Unfortunately, it’s still a very real possibility for many users.

Access to your iCloud account doesn’t necessarily mean instant rewards for hackers. However, it does mean that your personal photos, call logs, current location, etc. is available to them.

There have been recent reports of hackers using this information to harass users and extort money or information out of them.

You iCloud Keychain also probably contains passwords to your email accounts and maybe even your bank account.

To protect yourself against this, take these precautions:

Create strong passwords and try to use different passwords for important accounts. These passwords should have a capital letter, a number, a symbol, and be at least 7 digits.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication on your iPhone. This is the single best way to fight hacking. Nobody will be able to remotely access your account without physical access to your phone or computer.

Make your security questions more difficult to answer. If your security question can be answered by a quick Facebook search, that’s not good security.

Is Your Phone Jailbroken?

That’s a lot of information to digest, and the way it’s presented may make you feel like your iPhone isn’t very secure. The truth is, if you exercise common sense and a little bit of caution, you are very secure.

iPhones with stock settings are very heavily encrypted and not prone to viruses or malware.
The only time you should be concerned about this is if your phone is ‘jailbroken’. ‘Jailbroken’?

What does that mean?

Well, some techie people have figured out ways to remove some of the security protocols and rules that are built into the iPhone. This allows them to customize the iPhone heavily, downloading apps from different stores, changing key settings, and changing the iOS.

The problem is, jailbreaking a device makes the device far more susceptible to malware. By removing the intense scrutiny that Apple puts all caps through, it opens up the door for undesirable apps.

If you bought your iPhone new, it will not be jailbroken. If you bought your iPhone used or even lent it to somebody for a period of time, there is the possibility of your iPhone being jailbroken.

If you want to check whether or not your phone is jailbroken, search for an app called Cydia. This app is automatically installed when a phone is jailbroken.

If you find out that your phone is jailbroken or you suspect your phone is jailbroken, do a full reset on your phone. Follow these steps.

Open the Settings app. Tap on General.

img  general - Have You Been Hacked? How Secure Is Your iPhone?

Scroll down to the very bottom of the page. Tap on Reset.

img  reset - Have You Been Hacked? How Secure Is Your iPhone?

Tap on Erase All Content And Settings.

img  erase - Have You Been Hacked? How Secure Is Your iPhone?

You will now have to set your phone up as a new phone or restore it from a backup you made before your phone was jailbroken.

Signs To Be Aware Of

If you are suspicious that your phone is compromised, you may notice a few of these common symptoms:

• Unusually low battery life. You can download apps that will tell you which apps are sucking up all your battery. Keep your eye out for unusual apps you don’t remember installing.

• Slow iPhone. If your iPhone is fairly new, it should be pretty quick. If your phone suddenly slows down, there may be something wrong.

Unusually warm iPhone. Your phone will get hot if you’re using it constantly or watching a video. It should not get hot spontaneously whilst in your pocket.

As previously mentioned, your iPhone is very secure. With these tips in mind a little bit of common sense, you should never have any problems!


This article originally appeared in our monthly subscription newsletter, iExpertnews.

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April 12, 2017

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