2016

What Could a Hacker Actually Get from Your iPhone?

We hear about hackers often on the news and see them in movies and TV nearly every day, but what we see in the media is a misrepresentation of the truth.

Hackers do go after huge organizations, yes, but the far more common target is someone just like yourself and the device you carry. To hackers, your iPhone is far more valuable than your wallet and far more useful in the long term.

Unfortunately, despite Apple’s best efforts, your iPhone’s safety cannot be guaranteed without your effort and caution. Yet what makes a hack so dangerous for you? What could a hacker do with the information on your iPhone? What exactly can you do to protect yourself?

Let’s answer those questions by reviewing the most important information on your iPhone.

Account Access

Your iPhone, by itself, is not necessarily the most important thing you own. What makes it so vital to your life are the apps you use on it and the accounts you regularly log into with it. Chances are you don’t log out of social media accounts every time you use them on your device. Are there any apps you use constantly that could affect your life should they be compromised? Even a Netflix account hack, although marginal, could turn into a headache as you try to get it back.

Hackers know the value of your accounts. And if there is a market for them, they will be sold once the hacker takes control. Even if you can get your accounts back, it’s a better investment to spend a few hours preparing protection than to spend a few days mopping up the damage.

Your Life and Schedule

You might think it doesn’t matter if a hacker knows your schedule. After all, what is he going to do with it? To a degree that thought is correct, as your schedule doesn’t necessarily have inherent value to it. The problem is that if someone knows the details of your life and schedule, he can easily use that information to scam either you or the people closest to you. Depending on your position, your workplace could even get conned based on information stolen from your iPhone.

Social engineering is far more common than traditional hacking, and the reason that is the case is because it works. With your lifestyle information, someone could impersonate you far more accurately, especially if he or she also has access to your email accounts and social media. This could quickly lead to a great deal of trouble and embarrassment.

Financial Information

This information is the most obviously detrimental if lost. Many people have taken to online banking services and mobile pay systems. While these are most certainly useful, their presence on your iPhone could mean that if those accounts don’t have additional protections on them, there is a strong likelihood that a hacker (or his information buyer) could commit identity theft using your information.

While many fraud protections are in place regarding your banks, you could wind up financially crippled for weeks (perhaps even months) as the involved parties work out the situation. Getting your credit status back to where it was can be an entirely separate affair. In a worst-case scenario, a hacker can drain your accounts (at least temporarily) using information taken from your iPhone.

Contact Information

Many people take their contacts for granted, but hackers know just how valuable being able to contact someone directly with a name they trust can be. How much information would you be able to scam out of your loved ones if you wanted to?

As an example, many people wouldn’t think twice about texting their spouse some bank details or even a Social Security number. If a hacker gets your contact list from your iPhone, he can spam them and potentially get a hook into someone not paying the most attention. For their sake, you need to avoid letting this happen.

Protection Methods

image005

As stated before, you absolutely have the power to protect yourself. To keep your iPhone safe, it is recommended you do the following:

  • Make sure you have a security app installed on your iPhone. While malware isn’t as big of an issue on iPhones as opposed to other smartphones, it is starting to appear more frequently. Perform regular scans, and don’t download anything suspicious onto your phone.
  • Public networks are one of the worst threats to your iPhone due to the hackers also present on those networks. They will monitor traffic for things such as login details and sensitive communications. You will want to protect yourself using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which will encrypt your connection to any network. If you don’t know which one to get, Secure Thoughts has some useful recommendations.
  • Use verification measures whenever possible on your iPhone (even within apps). If your phone is stolen, it could mean the difference between nothing happening and all your accounts getting hacked. At the very least, the measure can give you time to change your passwords and warn your loved ones.
  • If information is simply too valuable for anyone to know, don’t keep it on your iPhone. While it’s convenient and proper security measures will work in most circumstances, you can never be too careful as to new methods hackers might try next.

Hackers pose a severe threat to your privacy and safety should they worm their way into your iPhone. Try to do everything in your power to make sure you and your sensitive information are protected from hackers. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to enjoy your device, but there’s no reason to throw caution to the wind as well.

About the Author: Caroline Black is a technology writer and blogger who specializes in cybersecurity topics. You can read her work at http://securethoughts.com. She greatly enjoys making sure the public is protected against hacker threats and hopes this article will inform you on just why you need to protect your iPhone.