iPhone has earned a reputation as a device that pays special attention to security issues. This happened, among other things, thanks to Apple working to create its own ecosystem and to control it. But no device can be considered ideal when it comes to security issues. Can I really hack an iPhone? What are the risks for the user?
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What does it mean to “crack” an iPhone?
Hacking is a simplified and common term that is often used incorrectly. Traditionally, the word refers to the illegal access to a computer network. In the context of iPhone hacking, the following may be considered:
- gaining access to someone’s personal information stored on the iPhone;
- monitoring or using the iPhone remotely without the knowledge or consent of the owner;
- Change the operating mode of the iPhone using additional software or hardware (for example, jailbreak).
Technically, someone picking your password can also be considered a hack. Then, hackers can install software to monitor your actions on the iPhone.
Hacking can be considered a jailbreak or the fact of installing custom firmware on the device. This is one of the more modern definitions of hacking and is also widely used. Many users have actually cracked their iPhones by installing a modified version of iOS to get rid of Apple’s limitations.
Malicious apps are another issue iPhone has previously encountered. Not only did such applications end up on the App Store, they also found zero-day exploits in Apple’s Safari web browser. This allowed hackers to install spyware that bypasses developers’ protective measures and steals personal data.
Jailbreak work also never stops. This is an ongoing cat and mouse game between Apple and jailbreak tweaks. If you keep the iOS version of your device up to date, then you are most likely protected from any hacking based on jailbreak methods.
Nevertheless, this is not a reason to reduce vigilance. Hacker groups, governments and law enforcement are interested in finding ways around Apple’s protection. Any of these structures may at some point find a new vulnerability and not inform the manufacturer or the public about it, using it for their own purposes.
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Can I connect to the iPhone remotely?
Apple allows you to remotely control your iPhone through remote access applications such as the popular TeamViewer.
However, you will not be able to control someone else’s iPhone without the knowledge of its owner or without first hacking it. There are VNC servers through which you can access a jailbroken iPhone, but there is no such functionality in standard iOS.
IOS uses a robust permission system to give applications explicit access to certain services and information. When you first install a new application, you are often asked to give permission to location services or the iOS camera. Applications literally cannot access this information without your explicit permission.
In iOS, there is no access level that provides full access to the system. Each application is in a kind of “sandbox”, which means that the software is separate from the rest of the system and is in its safe environment. This approach prevents potentially harmful applications from affecting the rest of the system, including restricting access to personal information and data from other applications.
You should always be careful with the permissions that you give the application. For example, a popular application such as Facebook will ask you to access your contacts, but this is not required for its basic operation. Once you provide access to your information, the application will be able to do whatever it wants with this data, including uploading it to someone else’s private server and storing it there forever. This may be considered a violation of Apple’s agreement with the developer and the App Store, but technically applications can do it.
Although worrying about malicious attacks on your device is normal, you are probably more at risk when transferring your personal information to a “secure” application, which simply politely asks for access. Check permissions regularly for your iOS apps along the way Settings → Privacy and think twice before agreeing to the program’s requests to give it access somewhere.
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Apple ID and iCloud Security
Your Apple ID (which is also your iCloud account) is probably more susceptible to external threats than your iPhone. As with any other account, many third parties can get your credentials.
Your Apple ID may already have two-factor authentication (2FA) enabled. However, you should make sure of this by going to Settings → [Ваше имя] → password and safety on your iPhone.
Click “Enable two-factor authentication“To configure it if it is not already on.
In the future, when you log into your Apple ID or iCloud account, you will need to enter the code sent to your device or in SMS by phone number. This prevents you from logging into your account even if the attacker knows your password..
However, even two-factor authentication is susceptible to social engineering attacks. Using it, you can transfer a phone number from one SIM card to another. This will convey to the potential “hacker” the last puzzle piece of your entire online life if he already knows your main email password.
We do not want to scare you or make you paranoid. However, this shows how something can be hacked if you devote enough time and ingenuity to it. You should not worry too much about trying to hack into your device, but always be aware of the risks and keep a minimum of vigilance.
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What about spyware iPhone software?
One of the common tools that hack iPhone is the so-called “spyware” software. Such applications are based on human paranoia and fear. Users are prompted to install surveillance software on their devices. Applications are interested in parents and suspicious spouses, wanting to track someone else’s activity on the iPhone.
Such applications cannot work on the standard version of iOS, so they require hacking the device (jailbreak). This opens up the iPhone for further manipulation, which will entail security and potentially application compatibility issues – some programs refuse to work on hacked devices.
After hacking the device and installing monitoring services, people can monitor individual devices through the web panel. This will allow an attacker to see each sent text message, information about all the calls made and received, and even see new photos or videos taken by the camera.
Such applications will not work on the latest iPhone (including XS, XR, 11 and the latest version of SE) and on some devices with iOS 13, for which only a tethered jailbreak is available (disappears after rebooting the iPhone). The thing is that Apple greatly complicates the jailbreak of their latest devices, so for them with iOS 13 installed, the threats are small.
However, this will not always be the case. With each major jailbreak update, manufacturers of such software again begin marketing campaigns. But spying on a loved one is not only doubtful from an ethical point of view, it is also illegal. Hacking another device also exposes it to the risk of malware. It will also void any warranty that the device may have.
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Wi-Fi may still be vulnerable
No matter which device you use, insecure wireless networks are still one of the most serious security threats for mobile devices. Hackers can use (and do it) man-in-the-middle attacks to create fake insecure wireless networks and capture traffic.
By analyzing this traffic by intercepting packets, a hacker can gain access to the information you send and receive. If this information is not encrypted, you can lose passwords, login credentials, and other confidential information.
Be smart, avoid using insecure wireless networks, and be careful when using a public network. For complete peace of mind, encrypt iPhone traffic with a VPN.