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What Can You Do To Prevent Your iPhone From Being Hacked?

Cybercrime targeting smartphones is on the rise, with everything from malware to phishing scams to network infiltration threatening iPhone users. According to recent research, mobile malware attacks increased by 15% last year, exposing the sensitive personal and financial data we keep on our phones. iPhones are enticing targets for hackers, but the good news is there are steps you can take to lock these devices down and reduce your risk of falling victim to cyberattacks. This article will provide cybersecurity tips every iPhone user needs to know, so you can use your device safely and guard your data.

Avoid Public WiFi Hotspots

Free public WiFi networks in coffee shops, hotels, airports and other locations may be convenient, but they come with serious security risks you need to watch out for. Hackers often set up spoof WiFi hotspots to mimic legitimate connections and then monitor or intercept traffic of anyone who joins. According to a recent NortonLifeLock survey, 68% of U.S. adults use public WiFi despite the dangers. But on public WiFi, all your online activity and data can be exposed, from emails and messages to passwords and credit card numbers.

To keep your iPhone safe, avoid connecting to open WiFi networks altogether when you‘re out and about. Instead rely on your cellular data plan or use a personal hotspot if you need a quick connection. The encrypted data transmission over cell towers will keep your activity protected from prying eyes. Only use trusted secured WiFi networks with passwords that you know are safe, like your home network. Taking this precaution ensures no one can spy on your device.

Vet Apps Before Downloading from the App Store

While the Apple App Store offers millions of apps, among them lurk risks and malware. According to AV-Test Institute, over 4,000 instances of iOS malware were discovered last year. To avoid falling victim when seeking out new apps, be sure to:

  • Check reviews – Look for red flags like negative feedback mentioning suspicious permissions, data collection or crashes. An app with a high volume of overly positive reviews can be suspicious as well.
  • Research the developer – Search for information on lesser known developers before downloading their apps. Remove apps immediately if users report questionable practices.
  • Say no to questionable app requests – Don‘t grant access permissions to contacts, messages, photos or sensitive data without good cause.
  • Install reputable security apps – Antivirus apps like Norton 360 can scan for threats on iOS devices and help identify dangerous apps.

Only install apps from developers you trust. It’s wise to be very selective about what apps you download to minimize the chance of inadvertently installing malware or spyware.

Watch for Signs Your iPhone May Be Hacked

Sometimes hackers are able to circumvent defenses and successfully compromise iPhones with malware or other tricks. Here are some signs to watch out for so you can spot a potential hack:

  • Unexpected spikes in data usage – Malware running in the background could be using data.
  • Strange or inappropriate pop ups – Scammy ads could indicate adware.
  • Higher than normal battery drain – Malware can consume extra battery.
  • Random app crashes or restarts – Unstable apps may be tied to malware.
  • Sluggish performance – Malware can over-tax the CPU and slow things down.
  • Overheating – Working harder due to malware will heat up the iPhone.
  • Unknown apps – Malware could install without your knowledge.
XCSSETMalicious code injected into appsCrashes, background activity
PegasusPowerful spyware from NSO GroupSuspicious texts, network activity
GazerScreen recording malwareDecreased battery life

If anything seems irregular, run a security scan, check app permissions, monitor network traffic and contact Apple support right away. Catching a hack early is key to preventing major damage.

Enable Built-In Security Features

Apple devices have strong integrated security features, but you have to use them properly to get the full protection. Here are some easy yet vital ways to lock down your iPhone:

  • Use a strong passcode – Avoid weak codes like "1234" that can be easily brute forced. Opt for a 6+ digit alphanumeric code or passphrase.
  • Set up Touch ID/Face ID – Face recognition and fingerprint scanning offer secure biometric access to keep prying eyes out.
  • Enable Find My iPhone – This app lets you remotely wipe data if the phone is lost or stolen. Over 15 million devices were returned using Find My iPhone last year.
  • Don‘t jailbreak – Jailbreaking removes security controls and opens major vulnerabilities. Avoid it.

Enable all the built-in iOS security features you can. For optimal protection, use biometrics for convenience while keeping a strong complex passcode as a fallback. Leverage Apple‘s offerings to fortify defenses.

Avoid Phishing Scams

Phishing employs social engineering schemes to trick users into providing sensitive data and unknowingly install malware. Attackers impersonate trusted entities like banks, e-commerce sites and even contacts. Here are some common phishing techniques and red flags to recognize:

Emails – Watch for poor spelling/grammar, threats, sketchy links and forged sender addresses from brands. Check the actual domain of shady links before clicking.

Texts – Smishing texts offer fake login codes, urgent account updates and other scams to steal credentials or deploy malware.

Fake Websites – Phony login pages mimic real sites to harvest passwords and financial data. Verify URLs (e.g. extra characters, "http" vs "https").

Social Media – Scammers impersonate friends and request sensitive info or app installs that inject malware.

Don‘t open attachments or click links from anyone you don‘t know and trust 100%. If something seems suspicious, confirm directly with the purported sender. Use common sense as your first line of defense.

Keep Your Software Up-to-Date

Apple issues monthly iOS updates with vital security patches that plug vulnerabilities hackers could exploit. Yet many delay installing the updates, leaving their iPhones open to attack. Updates also squash bugs that could cause crashes, freezes and instability.

To ensure you have the latest protections, enable automatic iOS updates. If a prompt appears, don‘t delay the installation. Each update eliminates weaknesses that malware relies on. Given hackers constantly probe for flaws, running the newest OS version is critical. Updates also improve performance and provide new features, so there‘s no downside to staying current.

Here are some examples of serious vulnerabilities that Apple has patched in recent updates:

  • iOS 15.0.2 – Fixed exploit in CoreGraphics that allowed arbitrary code execution. Actively exploited.
  • iOS 14.4 – Mitigated vulnerabilities allowing kernel code execution, sandbox escapes and memory corruption.
  • iOS 14.2 – Patched WebKit bugs hackers could abuse to run malicious code remotely.

Don‘t give hackers an open window. Install iOS updates the moment they become available to keep your iPhone defended.

Use a VPN When on Public WiFi

While it‘s best to avoid public WiFi networks entirely if you can, sometimes using them is unavoidable. In these cases, be sure to connect via a trusted Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel for all your traffic, preventing snoops on open networks from spying on your online activity and intercepting sensitive data like financial transactions or passwords. Consumer Reports found 68% of public WiFi hotspots they tested had medium to high security vulnerabilities.

Choose a reputable paid VPN app from providers like Norton or ExpressVPN. Free VPNs often have privacy concerns or bandwidth limits. Enable the VPN before accessing any sites or apps over public WiFi so your traffic remains protected. This shields your iPhone despite nearby threats.

Backup Your Data Regularly

No security measures are foolproof, so it‘s wise to back up your iPhone data regularly as a redundancy. This ensures you have a copy of all your photos, messages, contacts, notes and app data saved. If your phone happens to be infected with resilient malware or ransomware, you may need to wipe it back to factory settings to eliminate the threat. Or if it‘s lost or stolen, you can still recover everything from iCloud or iTunes backups.

Enable automatic iCloud backups to seamlessly save your iPhone data online. Or periodically sync and backup locally to your computer via iTunes. Schedule regular backups and review them to ensure they completed properly. This gives you peace of mind that your valuable information is protected.

Practice General Device Security

Beyond specific anti-hacking recommendations, practicing prudent security habits with your iPhone is key to keeping it safe:

  • Use strong unique passwords and a password manager app like 1Password. Over 15 billion passwords are stolen annually. Don‘t contribute to the problem by repeating passwords across accounts.
  • Enable two-factor authentication wherever possible. This safeguards accounts even if passwords do get stolen.
  • Keep your phone locked if leaving it unattended. Set it to auto-lock after 1 or 2 minutes.
  • Don‘t browse or enter sensitive info over unsecured WiFi networks. Stick to cellular data when out and about.
  • Don‘t click suspicious links or attachments in emails, texts or downloads. Verify the source first.
  • Review app permissions and don‘t grant unnecessary access to contacts, photos and location data.
  • Keep Bluetooth off when not needed to prevent remote device pairing.

Staying vigilant about security basics significantly reduces your odds of having your iPhone compromised by malware or phishing. Don‘t let your guard down.

Install Antivirus Software

Apple does a good job vetting iOS apps, but malware still occasionally sneaks through. Antivirus software provides another critical layer of active defense by continuously monitoring for and detecting any threats that make it onto your device. Apps like Norton 360 can run on-demand or automatic scans to identify dangerous or blacklisted apps and malware strains. They alert you of any security risks found so you can promptly delete troublesome apps and malware before major harm is done.

Antivirus apps also warn you away from phishing sites and other risky domains that could compromise your iPhone with a tap. This additional oversight helps identify threats even if all other precautions fail, adding invaluable protection. Don‘t rely solely on Apple‘s screening – utilize antivirus software for enhanced security.

In Summary

Smartphones hold so much personal data that it‘s critical iPhone users take steps to lock these devices down. While complete prevention of hacking is impossible, following the tips outlined in this guide can dramatically reduce your risk:

  • Avoid public WiFi hotspots and use cellular data when out
  • Thoroughly vet apps before downloading
  • Enable iPhone security features like Touch ID and passcodes
  • Watch for signs of infection like crashes or battery drain
  • Keep iPhone software updated and use a VPN on open networks
  • Practice general security habits for passwords, links and physical safety
  • Backup data in case a factory reset is required
  • Install antivirus apps for enhanced threat detection

Stay vigilant in protecting your iPhone and its sensitive data. By taking the right precautions, you make it very difficult for hackers to successfully compromise your device. Use your phone safely and don‘t let your guard down.



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.