Is It Easy to Hack an iPhone? How to Secure Your iPhone?

Samuel Walker  - Technology Policy Researcher
Last updated: May 19, 2024
Read time: 13 minutes

An iPhone hack isn't uncommon today. Yet, applying iPhone security best practices saves your device from being hacked.


Apple flaunts utmost security for its iPhones. However, like every other device, an iPhone is equally vulnerable to cyber threats. Today, numerous malware exist that typically target iPhone users. Sometimes, the adversary may include state actors that execute an iPhone hack against a specific target. while it sounds scary, thankfully, you can easily fix a hacked iPhone, and prevent future hacks, by applying some basic security practices. Find all about it, and more, in this guide.

Very few tech firms are as adept at PR management as Apple. For instance, take the iPhone security’s reputation. Apple has managed for a big chunk of the world to believe that an iPhone is impervious to hacks. It’s supposed to be the safest mobile device on the market, and many people are willing to sing along with this tune.


Let’s not forget that the iPhone remained the most straightforward device to hack for an extended period. That’s why Apple had to remove Flash technology from its devices. 

Things are not so bad nowadays. Safety in iOS-powered devices has improved significantly over the years, and there is no doubt that, as things stand right now, the security in the platform is worthy of praise. It’s better than Android or Windows, for sure. But that doesn’t mean that iPhones are the invulnerable strongholds of digital security they are purported to be.

Let’s address the fundamental issue: Apple iPhones can get hacked. It’s the nature of the beast. So yes, Apple can tell us all about how hard it is to hack one of its phones and talk endlessly about the iOS secure source code and security measures. All that information may be truthful, but it fails to acknowledge the main source of data breaches: human error.

Most hacking strategies on iPhones have the user as the attack’s target, the weakest link in the security process. They’re not about the hardware, the platform’s weaknesses, or polluted apps. Instead, hackers look at you, the user, as their ticket. Therefore, you must be aware to deny them their wish effectively.

Restoring a hacked iPhone – The quick guide

How to prevent hacking and cyber threats

If your beloved iPhone fell victim to hackers, there’s no need to worry. You can fix it and restore it completely. Here’s what to do:

  1. Choose an iOS mobile security suite, and install it. Norton 360 is a good option, including features like Wi-Fi security, a VPN service, and web protection.
  2. Launch the app. Run a full scan. The scan will take a while because it will go through every file in your system, looking for any signs of security problems.
  3. After the scan completes, take the time to read the report in full. The information will tell you the security problems you are facing and how to repair them.
  4. Now that you have a security suite running on your iPhone, keep it active at all times. Thus, you will prevent your phone from getting hacked again.

Ways through which an iPhone hack may happen

iPhone hack

1. Wi-Fi connections

Have you ever encountered a public Wi-Fi network asking you for much information upfront before you can connect? And then, you must go through an insane number of terms and conditions pages. Unfortunately, sometimes we’re desperate and will follow through with this craziness, even without the help of a VPN that can keep us safe under the circumstances. These networks are public, unprotected, and a hacker’s wet dream. You usually find them in:

  • Airports. Many airports across the world offer Wi-Fi networks for their travelers. Unfortunately, they are as unsafe as any public Wi-Fi network is bound to be. If on top of everything, the network requires you to provide personal details or if a third party is in charge of it, then more red flags are waving in the air — any resemblance to Boingo is not coincidental.
  • Budget hotels and motels. Keeping a reliable and secure Wi-Fi network takes resources. The most affordable motels are rarely interested in devoting any of their meager resources to that service, so they usually have an open network for everybody.
  • Cafes ad bars. Coffee shops and Wi-Fi go together like movies and popcorn. Starbucks is a good example. Have you ever thought twice about connecting to your favorite Starbucks Wi-Fi network? Well, unless you had an iPhone VPN active always, you should have. 

2. URLs

You’ve probably read this before: if a link comes from an unknown source, you should never open it. It’s hard to believe that phishing remains one of the most effective hacks, but it’s still effective, and phishers are a pretty creative bunch. They’ve found many ways to scam unsuspecting users. Here are some of them:

  • Email. Email phishing attacks have been around for decades. And we’re all still getting links to a “free cruise” or notice for our winning lottery tickets. These days, more sophisticated attacks can make their emails look like legitimate messages from Google, Amazon, Microsoft, or Apple. The classical phishing email will ask you to “update” your password.
  • SMS. Can iPhones get hacked from text messages? It’s a common query for most iPhone users. And the answer to it is “yes.” Text messages are very cost-effective for hackers. They allow them to rely on quantity over quality and still get something out of their efforts.
  • Phone calls. The domestic phone networks of many countries are flooded daily with scam calls. These are simple phishing attacks where the telephone call replaces a fraudulent web page.
  • Social media. Social media are a sign of our times. There exist some accounts that look like targeted ads, but they are the latest phishing technique. So, keep your social media accounts as private as possible to avoid public (especially negative) attention.
  • Web ads. Adds are the curse of the web. Unfortunately, they’re also at the heart of many business models of successful tech corporations. Many are not merely annoying but pose real risks to the users who click on them, even on iPhones.
  • Fraudulent software. There are fraudulent versions of legitimate paid software that criminal hackers exploit for phishing. Be careful when downloading apps like “free VPNs” or “free antivirus suites.”

3. Apps

The digital economy is new in the human experience. Nevertheless, it’s been around for long enough for a principle to be clear: whenever you’re not paying for a digital service or product, you are the actual product. The amount of ink spilled on the subject of Facebook, Google, and other tech firms selling user data is enormous. However, being a household name is not a requirement to spy on people in the digital environment. Any relatively exotic or small app can spy on you effectively. And if you allow it, however unknowingly, you will make its task easier to accomplish.

So, let’s turn to “free” apps. They will offer free wallpapers, ringtones, VPNs, and novelty camera features. You should be suspicious of any app that doesn’t come from a trusted source and provides anything for “free.” Pay attention to the following signs indicating a phone hack — they may tell you that a new “free” app is indeed doing sketchy things:

  • Overheating, shorter battery life. If your battery lasts noticeably fewer minutes after you installed a particular app, it’s a bad sign. The app is consuming all that power to do something. Most probably something for which you didn’t install it.
  • Absurd permissions. Why is your fitness-tracking app asking you for access to your contacts? Why do so many apps with nothing to do with video or taking pictures need permission to access your microphone and camera?
  • Behavioral change. Intrusive apps will prompt changes in your device’s behavior. If once you installed that new free app, your iPhone’s usability or general behavior changes noticeably, it’s terrible news.

4. People

People who are close to you can become a threat to your privacy. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. For example, consider that about a quarter of all financial security breaches come from an ex.

  • Stalkerware. You don’t need to be famous to get stalked. An abusive ex-partner, a nosy family member, and even your current partner can install apps into your iPhone known as “stalkerware.” The app can monitor your keystrokes, chats, and every breath you take.
  • Direct data transfer. Simple but effective. You leave your phone unattended for a minute. In the meantime, somebody else plugs a USB stick in or connects it to a computer. In a few minutes, they can extract the bits and pieces of critical information they want. And yes, this scenario implies that the wrongdoer is somebody close to you.

5. Governments

Governments are hacking threats, period. Have you heard about Edward Snowden? Of course, most governments don’t have the resources or interest to pay a lot of attention to every citizen. However, journalists, political activists, and opponents are typical targets in many countries — some of them are not considered repressive, like Singapore. 

And then you have other countries historically oppressing a particular ethnicity. As a result, members of that group are at a higher risk of catching their government’s digital eyes. That is where a VPN comes in very handy

And if you move around a little, your government is not your only concern.

Let’s suppose you go to China. You’ll realize that the digital ecosystem there is different. Apps like WeChat, Alipay, or QQ are all the rage, while your usual suspects like Google, WhatsApp, and others are either useless or banned. Nevertheless, tens of millions of Chinese residents get by with their own set of mobile apps. And these apps, which are now essential tools if you live in China, have the government’s blessing because it keeps them heavily surveilled.

How can I protect my iPhone from hackers?

Online safety tips

The list of potential threats to iPhones is substantial. However, there’s no reason for you to panic. Once understand that your security is not Apple’s responsibility, you will also realize that there’s plenty you can do to keep your device safe. Here are some iPhone privacy best practices that you can adopt to protect your device from hackers.

  • Remain updated. Software updates are your friends. They are often released to address security vulnerabilities. Yes, sometimes they can be glitchy. But consider that the inconveniences that installing every new update quickly can give you are irrelevant compared to the security problems they solve.
  • Use 2FA. Protect your Apple devices and accounts with two-factor authentication. If you can set it up to use biometric authentication, it’s even better!
  • Use a VPN. As far as we are concerned, VPNs are no longer optional luxury services but essential tools of the digital age. And if you’re a frequent public Wi-Fi user, you definitely need to ensure that you are on a VPN whenever you’re not home. Of course, we know and understand how much you like to play with your toys when drinking your favorite beverage at Starbucks. But your friendly neighborhood hacker likes it even more than you.
  • Mind your passwords. Use good password practices. We have articles on that on this website. Let’s remind you to use passwords that include at least a number, a sign, and both lower and uppercase letters. Also, every password must be unique to its account.
  • Be careful with your personal information. If you’re going to give away any personal information, make sure that the request comes from a legitimate organization.
  • Set up a passcode. If your iPhone is down for a given period, you will need a passcode to open it again. Enable this feature like this:
    • Go to “Settings.”
    • Tap “Touch ID & Passcode.”
    • Tap “Turn Passcode On.”
    • Tap “Passcode Options.”
    • Select “Create a Custom Alphanumeric /Numeric Code.”
  • Turn on the Find My iPhone feature. It will help you find your device if you misplace it or lose it.
  • Disable your iPhone’s Bluetooth whenever you’re not using it.
  • Don’t click on phishy links. Malicious websites can be effective in infecting a computer or an iPhone. The best way to prevent the problems they create is to stay away from them. So don’t follow any links unless you trust the sender completely.
  • Don’t jailbreak your iPhone. Jailbreaking your device means overriding the restrictions that iOS places on users. It may sound very cool, but some of those restrictions are there to protect you from yourself. Yes, a jailbroken iPhone is open to many new possibilities and things you can’t do with your standard iOS. But those new possibilities include additional vulnerabilities you can’t have in a regular device.

How to tell if your iPhone is hacked

Apple device

Every hack is different, and it shows in different ways. But, unfortunately, the best ones don’t show much at all. However, a few tell-tale signs can help you identify an iPhone hack.

  • The phone is too hot too frequently.
  • The battery depletes too quickly.
  • There are calls and SMS messages on your device that you don’t remember doing or know you didn’t do.
  • Some people in your contact list start asking you what the deal is with all those weird messages.

Be diligent and don’t rush to any conclusions. New iOS updates can sometimes have weird effects on phones, but they go away quickly.

What to do if iPhone is hacked?

Every hack is different, so the correct reaction is specific to each scenario. Unfortunately, there is no digital panacea that will solve every possible iPhone security breach. However, there is always something you can do to alleviate your situation while you figure out the utterly appropriate response:

  • If you can trace the root of your problems to an insecure Wi-Fi network, disconnect from it and make sure not to use it again.
  • If an URL is to blame, remember everything you downloaded from it. Delete everything.
  • If an app is the root cause of the problem, delete it.
  • Make sure your iPhone remains updated to the latest releases. 
  • If you find your AppleID or iCloud compromised, you must contact Apple immediately. Use a clean device to call 1-800-275-2273 or proceed to an Apple store.


Let’s face it. Manipulating iOS code and finding its security weaknesses is pretty hard. However, manipulating and deceiving users is cheaper, quicker, easier, and just as effective.

Yes, your iPhone is cool, robust, and very secure for the most part. But do not idealize it. Keep a healthy skepticism about your iPhone and the internet at large. Never give away any of your sensitive information to somebody or something whose credentials are perfectly transparent.

Lastly, be careful about the apps you allow on your iPhone. If any app demands more than its reasonable share of system permissions, get rid of it.

Remember that your digital security is nobody else’s responsibility. In this regard, you’re alone against the world. The Apple updates, a good antivirus, and a top-notch VPN will help you significantly. But don’t forget that hackers are not targeting any technical weakness in your device –they are betting on you to be the weakest link. So don’t be afraid to disappoint them.


There is no single universal thing that will tell you that an iPhone’s hacked. It depends on the type of hack. Maybe your battery will last too short a time. Possibly your data usage will explode. The most telling sign is when your contacts start getting calls or messages from you that you didn’t initiate.

Having an iPhone hacked remotely is indeed possible in principle. However, this is the most challenging way to hack them and, therefore, the most unlikely one. Malicious software and hacks involving physical contact are way more likely to be the cause of your problems.

Yes, this is a possibility. That is why a VPN and a good antivirus suite are essential to keep your phone safe.

No, this can’t happen. But unsolicited phone calls are among the phishing strategies that can then allow a third party to hack your phone.

No, rebooting your iPhone won’t make your device safe again. In the best-case scenario, it will delay the hackers a few seconds before they return to business. A complete restoration of factory settings is different, as it can eliminate the hacks. But you will also lose any of your data, and if you restore security back up, you’d be installing the same vulnerabilities again. So a factory reset only works if you start as a user from scratch.

Share this article

About the Author

Samuel Walker

Samuel Walker

Technology Policy Researcher
27 Posts

Sam Walker is a tech-focused writer who has traveled the world but currently lives in Australia. He has a keen interest in digital privacy and security. Sam loves testing new technology and researching the latest security trends to keep others informed (and ultimately safe) online.

More from Samuel Walker


No comments.