Apple ID hacked – What can I do?
Illegal hacking and spyware use are constantly rising around the world. As organizations like the Coalition Against Stalkerware work to fight this global problem, one of the main weapons we have in our arsenal is education.
If you have ever wondered if your Apple ID has been hacked, then read on to discover the telltale signs and what to do if you suspect that someone else is accessing your information without your permission.
It’s important to remember that Apple ID hacking isn’t the only way that someone could be snooping on your phone. There are many spyware providers that offer apps that can hack and monitor an iPhone, often stealing much more data than available through an Apple ID.
If you suspect that your iPhone has been hacked in any way, you can use a dedicated spyware detection tool, like Certo AntiSpy, to find out for sure and fix your device.
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How can someone gain access to your Apple ID?
Simply put, the hacker would have to know your Apple ID username and password and there are a variety of ways that they could find this information out:
Phishing attack: A phishing attack is a text or email that persuades you to click on a malicious link and prompts you to enter your credentials. There are a number of ways that these attacks give themselves away, and you can read our guide to spotting them here.
Hacking another device: If a hacker has gained access to another device of yours, for example a computer, tablet or other phone, they can use that to log keystrokes and steal your login data for your Apple ID, as well as any other login information you may use on that device.
You are the victim of a data breach: Data breaches are another alarming facet of the rise in malware, particularly ransomware targeting large organizations. If you use the same login information for multiple accounts, there is a much higher chance that these details will be leaked online. In 2022, companies suffering the largest data breaches included Twitter, Neopets and AT&T. You can read the full list here.
You know your hacker: Potentially the most worrying, if you have ever shared your credentials with anyone, or allowed them unsupervised access to your phone, they could be using this information to hack into your Apple ID.
What happens when someone hacks your Apple ID?
What can a hacker do once they’ve obtained Apple ID login credentials?
Many spyware providers offer a service that steals data from the cloud using the victim’s Apple ID and password.
Most iOS spyware relies on your phone being jailbroken to work, which requires access to the device and a little technical knowledge, so offering an alternative cloud solution (often called a ‘no-jailbreak’ solution) gives hackers a greater breadth of options when they are trying to stalk you or steal your personal information.
So how does it work? The hacker would give your Apple ID and password to the spyware provider, who would then use it to access your account and download a copy of all your data synced from your iPhone to iCloud.
This data is then formatted for the hacker into an easy-to-read report and will be updated every time your phone syncs to iCloud. This data could include:
- Photos and videos
- GPS location in real-time
- Emails, if you have an iCloud address
What else could a hacker do with your Apple account?
Another option would be to restore the most recent backup of your iPhone to a device they control. This would allow them to see a full copy of your phone at the time of backup, including messages, photos, contacts, and any other data available in the device backup stored in iCloud.
What are the limitations? Hacking an Apple ID gives someone a lot of information about you and your phone. However, it doesn’t allow them to listen in to your calls or turn on your camera or microphone to spy on you in real-time.
This requires a more advanced spy app to be installed directly on the device. If this is something that you are worried about, check out Certo AntiSpy to find and remove spyware on your iPhone.
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How to tell if your Apple ID has been hacked
This form of hacking is particularly dangerous because it’s difficult to detect and gives the perpetrator a lot of insight into your activities. The data is all accessed directly from iCloud using your Apple ID and password and doesn’t install anything on your phone or rely on your phone to transfer the data.
This means that the usual indicators for spyware like high data usage and a fast-draining battery will not be present and you would need to obtain access logs from Apple to determine if your Apple ID has been hacked. Unfortunately, these are not readily available and you’d have to get in touch with Apple to request them and then analyze the data yourself.
Another way you can check without needing Apple’s intervention would be to find out if two-factor authentication is enabled on your phone. If it is enabled then it would be impossible to hack your Apple ID, and you can relax. If it is not enabled, then you may have to dig further to find the answer.
Protect yourself from Apple ID hacking
If you know what to look out for and the tactics you can use to protect yourself, you should be able to avoid this type of hacking. Things you can do are:
Always use two-factor authentication with your Apple ID: If you have this feature enabled then even if someone discovers your password, they will not be able to access your account. Any attempts to login will trigger a unique code being sent to your device. This protects you and also alerts you if any attempts to log in are made.
Use a strong password: It should also be one that is different from all other online accounts. This is standard good practice for existing on the internet. If all your passwords are different, then a data breach will not open you up to hacking and fraud in the same way that it would if one password could unlock multiple accounts.
Only sync what’s necessary: While it can be convenient to sync data to iCloud – for example, so you can access it on other devices, it does mean that there is a copy of your private information stored somewhere that you do not control. Therefore, think carefully about what data you are syncing and only sync what’s necessary for you.
Consider local backups: Similar to the above, if you backup your device to iCloud then a complete copy of all your data is stored online and could potentially be accessed by anyone who gains access to your account. It’s worth considering backing up to your computer instead, which gives you more control about where your data is stored. These backups can be encrypted for extra security.
Turn on Advanced Data Protection: In iOS 16, Apple added the option to enable Advanced Data Protection for your data stored in iCloud. This feature encrypts your data and means that it can only ever be accessed by one of your trusted devices. You can learn more about this feature and how to turn it on here.
Hackers are always finding new ways to access your sensitive information. By following our steps above, your Apple ID will actually be very difficult to compromise. This means the hacker may be more likely to try an alternative method, such as installing more advanced spyware directly on your device.
If you have any suspicions about your iPhone security, run a scan with Certo AntiSpy. The award-winning iPhone spyware detection tool can quickly identify spy apps, keyloggers and other malware on your device. Any threats can be quickly removed, ensuring your data stays private.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
How can I tell if someone has signed into my Apple ID?
If someone attempts to sign into your Apple ID, Apple will alert you by displaying a message on any devices signed into that Apple ID. You may also get an email with details of any unrecognized login attempts.
To check devices that are signed into your account follow the instructions here.
Can someone read my WhatsApp messages if they have my Apple ID?
While WhatsApp chats can be backed up to iCloud, it would not be possible for someone to view this information if they just have access to your Apple ID. The messages can only be downloaded by a device with your phone number.
For an extra layer of security, turn on end-to-end encryption for your WhatsApp backups in the app’s Settings.
What can someone do if they have my Apple ID?
If someone gains unauthorized access to your Apple ID there are a number of ways your data could be compromised:
- If you sync data from your iPhone to iCloud a hacker would be able to view this data.
- If you have an @icloud.com email address, they may be able to send and receive emails via your account.
- If FindMy is enabled, they could track your location.
- If you backup your iPhone to iCloud, they could restore the entire backup to their own device.