There are a number of ways that someone could potentially spy on your iPhone. One fairly common tactic is to obtain your Apple ID and password, through phishing or social engineering, and hack into your iCloud account. This would give the hacker access to a copy of your phone at any given time if you back it up.
There are easy ways to keep yourself safe from this type of attack, and some fairly simple barriers that can prevent someone from accessing your information. These include:
Storing your credentials securely – it is important that you do not share your username and password with anyone. If you’re careful with where you store this information – for example avoid emailing them to yourself – you can prevent potential hackers from gaining access.
Using two factor authentication – When two-factor authentication is enabled with your Apple ID, even if the hacker does have your username and password, they will not be able to access your account. Most people have this enabled on newer phones, but if you are not sure, it is best to check.
Not backing up to iCloud – Hackers rely on you using iCloud to create an online back-up of your phone instead of accessing the device itself. This means that if you are not creating these back-ups there is far less for them to see, even if they do get into your account successfully.
Recent changes to iCloud security mean that this type of attack is getting more difficult and less reliable. Because of this, hackers are finding alternative methods to spy on their victims’ mobile devices. Here we will outline each method briefly before going on to tell you how to detect and remove them.
iPhone spyware that doesn’t require your Apple ID
If you’re wondering whether someone can hack into your iPhone without your credentials, the short answer is yes. Some of the most prevalent methods are:
Spyware or Stalkerware
The main way in which someone could spy on you through your iPhone without knowing your iCloud password is by using purpose designed spyware. To install it they would have to gain physical access to your phone and perform a jailbreak. This removes the inbuilt security from the iOS. They would then install a spyware app onto your device.
This will give the hacker access to every part of your device including your calls, messages, social media accounts, banking, and location. They may also be able to access your camera and microphone to listen or watch you in real time. If you are worried about this type of spyware, download Certo AntiSpy and scan your device. The software will identify potential malicious applications and advise you to remove or disable them immediately.
Developer/Enterprise app spyware
This is a type of spyware that hackers can use to bypass the App Store and avoid jailbreaking the device. It works by abusing Apple’s Developer or Enterprise programmes.
The Developer programme gives developers the opportunity to make and test apps before they are published on the official App Store. Using this programme means that the test apps can be downloaded onto an iOS device without going through the App Store review process. In order to take advantage of the programme, the hacker would need to create their own malicious app in advance and then gain physical access to their victim’s phone in order to install the app onto it. Typically, they will then hide the app in an app folder like ‘Utilities’, so it will go unnoticed for as long as possible. The app can be active for as long as 365 days if it is undetected.
The Enterprise programme was designed by Apple to be used internally by companies and organizations to distribute apps amongst their teams, without making them publicly available during Beta testing. However, hackers have turned this feature into a way for them to trick unsuspecting users into installing malicious apps.
Unlike Developer apps, hackers do not need physical access to the victim’s phone in order to install an Enterprise app; they simply need the victim to download the app. The app could look like a free version of a paid app available on a third party app store. The best way to guard against this type of spyware is to only use the official App Store, and be vigilant about what you are downloading.
Another way that hackers can spy on your phone without your Apple ID and password is using a tracking app. These are apps that are available from the official App Store and are usually marketed as family safety apps for parents to keep track of where their children are. Whilst they have their legitimate uses, they can be abused by stalkers to track a victim’s location. To detect this type of app you can go into your settings and manually check any app that has access to your location data for anything that you do not recognize. Alternatively, Certo AntiSpy will show you the apps that have access to your location and highlight any that are known tracking apps.
Wi-Fi Sync attack
Spyware in the form of a Wi-Fi-sync attack requires the use of a PC app. The hacker would install the app onto a computer using the same network that the victim’s phone connects to, and then get hold of the victim’s phone to set up the Wi-Fi-sync.
Because of the nature of this attack the hacker would need to be close to the victim’s home network and phone, which is why this type of spyware is predominantly used in domestic situations. The hacker can use their own computer and the iPhone itself remains secure, with no jailbreaking, additional apps or access to iCloud required.
To detect and remove this type of attack, first check if Wi-Fi-sync is enabled in Settings > General. If you did not enable this feature yourself, disable it immediately. You can then check the PCs in your network for a spyware app. The ability to detect this type of hack is a feature that is coming soon to Certo AntiSpy.
As you can see, when we ask the question; ‘Can someone spy on or hack my iPhone without my Apple ID and password’ the answer is most certainly yes. There are a number of steps that you can take to protect yourself from spyware, and if you are in any doubt you can always turn to a proven tool like Certo AntiSpy to put your mind at ease.