How to Detect Spyware on an iPhone


Last August Google warned that over 1 BILLION Apple users may have had their iPhones hacked over a two-year period.

By merely visiting a certain website, it was possible for hackers to access everything on a victim’s iPhone.

And iPhone hacking is still on the rise…

Demand for spyware detection tools for iOS devices skyrocketed by 46% in Q2 of 2020. Even our very own Certo Threat Lab has seen a huge increase in the use of spy apps – the type commonly used to steal vast amounts of sensitive data from someone’s iPhone.

Award-winning spyware detection

Combat spyware and other cyber threats with Certo AntiSpy, the world's leading anti-spyware tool for iPhones.

And it’s not just expert computer technicians who could hack your iPhone. Nowadays, just about anyone can do it. All they need is access to cheap software and the ability to follow a few simple instructions…

Is someone watching everything you do on your iPhone?

When someone hacks your iPhone with spyware, they potentially gain access to all of your most private information.

This includes emails, text & chat messages, browsing history, photos, online account data (passwords and usernames, etc) and GPS location. In addition, most iOS spyware can even listen in on your phone calls.

Essentially, hackers can access anything that’s stored or passed through your iPhone.

How easy is it for hackers?

Again, contrary to what most people think – anyone can be a hacker if they have the right tools.

The bad news is that the spyware you need to hack an iPhone can be purchased extremely cheaply – from as little as $30 per month.

Hacking is no longer reserved only for those with expert computer knowledge. These days, anyone who can use an iPhone is capable of installing data-stealing spyware in a matter of minutes.

Who could install spyware on your iPhone?

A hacker could be anyone around you, from a jealous spouse, a nosey employer or even a complete stranger in the form of a professional hacker, stalker or fraudster. It’s really impossible to tell – especially since spyware is so readily available and easy to use.

For most people, you’re far more likely to be hacked by someone you know, as opposed to a complete stranger.

However, it’s worth noting that if you could be considered a ‘high-value target’, because you have an important job or similar, then you are more at risk from a professional hacker, who may target you based on your credentials.

Why would someone hack your iPhone?

There are many reasons someone might decide to hack you. The main reasons are either for monetary gain or to collect information about an aspect of your personal life.

Here are a few examples of why someone would install spyware on your iPhone and how they could abuse your private data:

1. Cyberstalking. Cyberstalking is the most common use of iPhone spyware, used to keep tabs on you for various reasons – primarily by someone who knows you personally. Some examples of the type of cyberstalking we regularly see are:

  1. Accessing private messages for use in a divorce
  2. Monitoring of GPS location by a jealous spouse
  3. Unauthorized full device monitoring by employers

2. Identity Theft. Once they have access to your personal information, a hacker could just outright steal your identity. They might use your details to open new bank accounts, take out loans, or worse. This has the potential to completely ruin your life and leave you in a mountain of debt that you didn’t create – or at the very least, cause a huge amount of stress and waste a lot of time.

3. Stealing money. If a hacker manages to steal information relating to your finances, it’s common for them to purchase items online using your information, request money from your contacts, or simply extract money from your bank accounts.

4. Selling your data. Lots of hackers make fast money by collecting data from lots of victims and then just selling the information to others who will use that data as they wish. Full ID packages can sell for anywhere up to $100 each, bearing in mind hackers will usually sell this data in huge batches. If this happens to you, other more sophisticated hackers might try to target you in the future.

5. Blackmail. Hackers could use the data they’ve stolen to blackmail you. It’s usually something along the lines of:

“Pay me $ or I’ll send these pictures and videos to all of your contacts.”

Apple makes it harder to protect yourself…

Perhaps the worst thing about iPhone spyware is that Apple could do so much more to protect their customers.

Unlike Android, Apple doesn’t allow security companies to provide apps on their official App Store that can scan your iPhone for spyware or signs of hacking.

This means that you, as an Apple user, have had no EASY way of knowing if you’ve been hacked unless you know exactly what to look for.

Your only other option would have been to have your phone analyzed by a digital forensic firm, which could take weeks and could cost hundreds or even thousands.

Until now, that is…

How to Detect iPhone Spyware

Now, there are a few indicators that your iPhone could have been compromised such as: Is your battery running out faster than normal? Is your phone running hotter than usual?

But as you can probably already tell, these signs are far from foolproof, especially since batteries degrade with age and devices might run hotter in the summer months, etc.

With spyware now doing an ever better job at avoiding detection, it’s almost impossible to spot. You simply cannot rely on these visual signs.

That’s why we created Certo AntiSpy.

Get Certo AntiSpy

Despite Apple not allowing spyware-scanning apps on their App Store, at Certo, we’ve developed an innovative solution to the ever-increasing spyware problem…

Certo AntiSpy is an app for your computer that you can use to scan your iPhone and detect if someone has installed spyware. Here’s why it’s perfect for keeping your iPhone secure:

  • Easily installed onto your PC – just plug in your iPhone and click “Scan”.
  • Uncover spyware, tracking apps, keyloggers and more.
  • Our unique technology means Certo can find threats that other apps cannot.
  • Nothing is installed onto your iPhone so a hacker has no idea you’ve performed a scan with Certo.

Watch the video below to see how Certo AntiSpy can scan your iPhone or iPad for spyware in just a few minutes.

Types of iPhone spyware

1. Hidden spy apps

Hidden spy apps are the most commonly used type of iPhone spyware. These can be easily purchased for as little as $30.

They have the ability to hide on your iPhone and give a hacker access to vast amounts of your personal data, including instant messages, emails, real-time location, photos and more.

This type of spyware requires the hacker to have physical access to the victim’s device for a few minutes to install. Once installed, the hacker can then remotely monitor all activity from the infected device and in some cases even turn on the microphone and cameras to listen in and watch remotely.

2. iCloud backup attack

An alternative method available to hackers who want to steal data from an iPhone is the iCloud Backup Attack. This is when a hacker targets the backups of your device stored in your iCloud account, as opposed to going after your physical device.

This is dangerous because if a hacker gains access to your backups, they could download all of the data you’ve got backed up or even clone your entire iPhone.

This type of attack doesn’t require access to the device, but does require the hacker to have the victim’s Apple ID login details. And because it is carried out 100% via the internet, it makes it almost impossible to detect.

Fortunately, it’s quite easy to protect against by enabling two-factor authentication with your Apple ID.

3. Rogue enterprise Apps

This type of hack relies on bypassing the App Store’s strict security measures by installing apps in a different way. It uses a method usually reserved for app developers and for larger corporations who need their own ‘custom’ apps.

This method allows hackers to install apps onto your phone that have not been approved by Apple, e.g. Spyware.

Rogue enterprise apps are not completely invisible, but hackers often give these apps innocent-sounding names or hide them in a utilities folder so they will go unnoticed.

It’s also not as powerful or intrusive as a hidden spy app, but is compatible with a wider range of devices.

4. Misusing legitimate apps

Pre-installed apps, such as ‘Find My’ and ‘Google Maps’ can be misused to share a victim’s location with a hacker. This requires the hacker to get access to the victim’s device for a short time.

A hacker can also change the logged-in account for the device web browser in order to collect browser history and online account login details.

As no malicious apps or code are installed, it’s quite easy for this type of attack to go unnoticed for months or even years, in which time, the hacker has gained a wealth of information.

5. ZeroDay exploits

ZeroDay exploits are somewhat rare, but can be devastating to those who are affected.

They’re called Zero-day because these exploits are yet to be discovered by security researchers and as such, no fix has yet been released for the apps/devices that are affected.

Zero-Day exploits are usually created by hackers when they discover a weakness in operating systems or 3rd party apps.

Once this weakness has been exposed, it’s immediately exploited, leaving developers scrambling to fix the problem as quickly as they can to minimize the risk to their user’s data.

This can affect millions of users if a Zero-day is found in a popular app or device. In some cases, more advanced exploits can even infect a device with spyware without the hacker needing to touch the victim’s device.

Uncover spyware with Certo AntiSpy

If you're concerned that someone may have installed spyware on your iPhone then run a quick scan with the award-winning Certo AntiSpy.

Our industry-leading spyware detection tool finds threats that are undetectable by more traditional security apps.

The best ways to protect iPhones from spyware:

  1. Regularly scan your device for spyware and other security threats with an appropriate tool. Certo AntiSpy can scan your device for signs of hacking in just a few simple clicks.
  2. Keep your iPhone updated to the latest iOS release. This makes sure that your device has protection against new bugs and vulnerabilities that are discovered.
  3. Similar to the above, also ensure that you keep your apps up-to-date.
  4. Use a strong passcode. Don’t just use 4 numbers and don’t use your birthday.
  5. Only install apps from the official App Store. Apps installed from 3rd party app stores can often contain malware.
  6. Use two-factor authentication with your Apple ID. This account often contains data backed up from your iPhone, so it’s important to protect this too.
  7. Don’t click on links in emails or texts from contacts you don’t recognize. Also, be careful about the links you click whilst browsing the internet.