There’s been a prevailing rumor — practically since the invention of the iPhone — that argues Apple products cannot be targeted by hackers. This has been particularly applicable to the iPhone, with some going as far as to argue that the phone’s supposed inability to be hacked is one of the biggest advantages of the product over the competition. The truth is that — while iPhones are, in fact, safer and more secure than the competition — Apple products can still be susceptible to hackers. That’s why it’s so important to learn ways to bring protection.

Granted, these hackers don’t strike Apple products as often as with other cell phone brands, but they still pose a legitimate threat to iPhone users with certain vulnerabilities on their smartphones. Thankfully, you can work to prevent these vulnerabilities and protect your privacy. The following vulnerabilities outline the risks iPhone users face and outline the ways they can ensure protection for their devices.

iPhone data and privacy
While it is a myth that iPhones can’t get viruses, Apple does a thorough job of ensuring it doesn’t happen often.

These days, iPhones and other cell phone brands work hard to implement virus and malware protection right into the phones’ operating systems. While this protects users from random attacks, it still doesn’t provide much security if you manually click on a suspicious link or website designed by a hacker to violate your privacy and obtain your private information.

Links with weird spelling, strange-looking logos, or unfamiliar URLs all threaten to bring a virus or malware to your device. This is particularly true when using public Wi-Fi connections (especially ones without a password). These links — sometimes referred to as phishing links — are breeding grounds for hackers, effectively allowing them to hop onto your device and coerce you toward one of these suspicious links. Once you click a phishing link, hackers can get everything from your login credentials to your financial information. It’s best to altogether avoid sites or links that look or feel off. Use your best discretion and always trust your gut when faced with a potential phishing link to keep your iPhone from being hacked. 

2. Falling Victim to Targeted Attacks

Most of the time, we think of hacking as a random thing. However, this ignores the existence of targeted attacks: an invasion of privacy by a virus or malware that is directed at a specific person for a specific reason. This is what’s known as a targeted attack. The average person likely isn’t going to have to worry about being targeted, but people in the public eye — particularly news reporters, politically active individuals, and those with some degree of fame or recognizability — should take precautions.

Hackers like to take out their frustrations on famous people, and it doesn’t even have to involve A-listers, either. Anyone who has been put in the public eye — as seriously as a Hollywood celeb and as minor as a local news anchor — is at risk of this kind of attack. If you’re a notable figure hoping to avoid a targeted attack, practice the tips and tricks you’ve learned here and always be wary of potential risks links, apps, and software updates might pose to you and your privacy in particular.

3. Downloading Questionable Apps

There’s no doubt that Apple’s App Store is far more rigorously monitored than other competitors’ stores. Apple is remarkably strict about who and what is allowed to be published on their digital marketplaces, and this security does a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to protecting your iPhone from being hacked. However, it’s only inevitable that some things will slip through the cracks.

Thankfully, you’ll be able to tell pretty quickly whether an app is worth trusting or not. Obvious glitches, a painfully outdated look, or slow functionality are good signs that you should probably delete the app as quickly as you installed it. You can also prevent hackers from remotely accessing your info by opting not to share your location, your camera, or your microphone with the app when or if you’re prompted. More often than not, Apple will remove the questionable app from their Store sooner rather than later.

4. Having Spyware Installed

When we think of being hacked, we think of visiting a website or downloading an app that suddenly barrages you with pop-ups or a blank screen as a random hacker remotely accesses your device and steals your info. It’s a very cinematic notion, and it’s not always reflective of the truth. In all honesty, you can just as easily be hacked by someone you know. Some couples or friends have seen someone they thought they could trust install spyware — also known as stalkerware — onto their iPhone. 

This violation of privacy and destruction of trust gives your friend or partner full access to your location, texts, calls, emails, and even your photos and Safari history.

5. Using Weak Passwords

When visiting a website you use frequently — be it a social media site, a work platform, or simply a webpage related to a hobby of yours — people tend to opt for a password they can quickly and easily log in with so that they can get right to business. However, using these easy-to-crack passwords can put you at serious risk of being hacked. It’s a universal feeling: You’re visiting a website, you’re faced with a login screen, and you’re likely going to choose to reuse your trusty username and password combo.

When you’re visiting a website and instructed to create an account, do your best to avoid this urge to simply recycle a version of your go-to password. With the help of a password manager (like the one Safari prompts you to use), you should instead choose to use a passphrase that is virtually impossible to crack (especially in comparison to a basic password). Two-factor authentication — which involves confirming a text, call, email, or using an authentication app — is another way to secure your passwords. This gives hackers two blockades to break down, which would be next to impossible to do.

6. Failing to Keep Your iPhone Up to Date

Hackers like to take advantage of the loopholes and weak points in the newest version of iOS. You see a real surge of this kind of activity around new iOS releases because hackers know people will be curious to see the changes despite the inevitable flaws in the operating system’s armor that come with new updates. These so-called zero-day exploits take advantage of peoples’ excitement over the new iOS in an attempt to profit off of temporary security flaws.

To avoid being victimized, use caution when downloading the latest and greatest iOS update. Many suggest waiting a few days or weeks until a new version of the iOS is released that addresses these bugs and risks found in the earlier release. That way, you can still keep your iPhone up to date and enjoy the new features without having to worry about being taken advantage of.

7. Jailbreaking

It’s not hard to see why a jailbreak would be appealing to some. This act effectively gets rid of all the restrictions Apple puts on its operating system and allows you to implement a much more complex, much more customizable, much more attractive operating system in its place. However, a jailbreak that eliminates Apple’s iOS restrictions puts you at a much more serious risk of being hacked.

Apple works tirelessly to protect its iPhones from even the most complex and intricate hacking measures. By opting to jailbreak, you effectively opt out of that security the company has poured millions and millions into in favor of something much, much weaker. You should avoid jailbreaking at all costs.

The 7 Terrifying Ways Your iPhone Can Easily Be Hacked FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What are the signs of your iPhone being hacked?

Some of the most obvious signs of a hacked iPhone include the device getting very hot, dying very quickly, moving very slowly, and draining its battery without you even using the smartphone.

Can an iPhone actually get hacked?

While the iPhone is equipped with state-of-the-art security and anti-hacking measures, it’s still possible for hackers to take advantage of vulnerabilities in the latest iOS updates or obtain your information through spyware or phishing links.

Is there a shortcode to check if my phone has been hacked?

The iPhone does have an IMEI number, but this shortcode will not tell you whether or not you’ve been hacked.

How can I protect my iPhone?

The best way to protect your phone is to use strong passwords, use two-factor authentication, avoid jailbreaking, and use your best discretion with links, apps, and updates.

How do I remove a hacker from my iPhone?

To remove a hacker from your iPhone, the best bet is to restore it. While you can do a factory reset, you can also check to see if you have an iCloud or desktop backup saved from before you were hacked. This will prevent having to start back at square one.

What do I do if my iPhone is hacked?

If you think you’ve been hacked, you need to restore to factory settings or the last available backup saved.

Can an iPhone be hacked by visiting a website?

Yes, your iPhone can be hacked via suspicious links.

Can an iPhone be hacked remotely?

Yes, the iPhone can be hacked remotely, but the truth is that it’s so difficult and expensive to do that it almost definitely won’t happen to you.

Can an iPhone camera be hacked?

Yes, the iPhone’s camera can be hacked, but again, the amount of work and money involved makes it seriously unlikely.

Can iPhone be hacked through Safari?

While Safari is a very safe and very secure web browser, there are instances where Safari can be susceptible to zero-day exploits. These come with new iOS updates and are usually quickly amended. There’s also the risk of clicking suspicious links that use Safari to try and gain access to your personal info.

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