Can iPhones Get Hacked? Yes, and Here’s What to Do About It

If you’re an iPhone user who believes your mobile device can’t be hacked, guess again. Read this article to discover the truth about iPhone security and how to protect yourself from malware.
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Although safer than Android, the iOS operating system has its share of vulnerabilities. Like any mobile device, an iPhone can fall victim to cyberattacks. Hackers can steal your money, data, and even your identity.

So, can iPhones get hacked? Absolutely! That's why adopting good security habits is so important (using a reliable antivirus program, for example). Keep reading to learn how to protect your iPhone and recover after a successful attack.

In this article
Is it even possible to hack an iPhone?
Six critical signs that your iPhone has been hacked
How to deal with a compromised iPhone
How to protect your iPhone from hackers
Can iPhones get hacked FAQ
Bottom Line

Is it even possible to hack an iPhone?

Apple builds its products with security in mind. Some of its key safety measures include:

  • Hardware-based encryption: It protects the device even if the main processor is compromised.
  • App Store control: Apple's manual review process leaves little room for malicious apps. Apple is especially strict when it comes to protecting children.
  • Regular patches and updates: Apple has been diligent with its rapid security responses. However, we don't like how they won't disclose security issues until they have patched them. It prevents widespread panic but also delays user awareness and protective actions.

Unfortunately, even the most advanced systems have vulnerabilities, and nothing is unhackable. For example, an iOS flaw before version 16.6 allowed attackers to install programs and view, change, or delete data. Apple patched this issue quickly, but exploits had already happened.

Apple's commitment to security has also given rise to many dangerous iPhone myths. Learn more about them below.

The most common iPhone security myths

Here are the most popular myths about iPhone security:

  • iPhones are resilient to malware: While rare, viruses can and do make their way into iPhones — Pegasus (spyware) and AdThief (adware) are two.
  • Hackers can't target iPhones: In 2022, Apple’s security flaw allowed hackers to take complete control of iPhones. Apple released a fix, but this wasn’t an isolated incident.
  • iOS apps are 100% safe: Despite rigorous control, malicious apps have found their way to the Apple Store in the past.
  • iPhones are only vulnerable if jailbroken: Jailbroken iPhones are more susceptible because they allow you to install third-party apps that Apple hasn’t vetted. But non-jailbroken iPhones aren’t immune to attacks; they’re just harder to target.

How can my iPhone get hacked?

iPhones get hacked through system vulnerabilities or user negligence. Here are eight scenarios you need to be aware of:

  • You click a malicious link: These phishing links are designed to download malware to your device. They will grant the hacker access to your phone and everything on it.
  • You download infected or malicious apps: This scenario is more common on jailbroken Apple devices. Downloading unverified third-party apps could lead to iPhone hacks.
  • You use weak passwords: Brute force attacks can crack short and simple passwords in seconds. Create strong passwords and avoid using info hackers can easily find online (e.g., your birth date and important names). We also recommend using a good password manager instead of writing everything down.
  • Hackers target you: Sometimes hackers discover vulnerabilities in specific iOS versions. They'll then target iPhones with that OS version until Apple issues a fix.
  • You jailbreak the iPhone and sideload apps: Limiting yourself to the Apple App Store will result in fewer apps but better security.
  • You fall victim to a zero-day exploit: Sometimes, hackers will discover a flaw before Apple does. This usually happens with new iOS updates. The 2022 incident was an example of a zero-day exploit. Unfortunately, there’s no way to predict when these bugs will hit.
  • You use unsecured Wi-Fi: Using public Wi-Fi networks could endanger your iPhone. The public Wi-Fi network in hotels, coffee shops, or airports is easy to hijack and monitor. Once you connect, the hacker can see everything you do and steal your info.

Six critical signs that your iPhone has been hacked

Keep an eye out for these red flags to detect a possible hack:

  • Your battery drains faster: This is a common problem with older iPhones. However, it might be a sign of a hack with newer models. If your new device is burning through its battery and overheating, this could indicate a hacked iPhone.
  • You’ve been locked out of your Apple ID: A hacker has likely accessed your device and then reset your Apple ID.
  • Unfamiliar apps on your home screen: This strongly indicates a hack attack.
  • Your contacts receive strange messages from you: Hackers may send phishing links to your contacts. They'll usually target people who trust you, like your friends and family.
  • You notice a dip in device performance: Although age can cause this, it can also be a sign of an attack. Criminals might be using your processing power for malicious activity.
  • Your data usage is spiking: If your mobile data drains faster than usual, a hacker might be using it.

We also recommend monitoring your Apple ID account and any linked credit cards. Staying vigilant will help you prevent identity theft and data loss.

How to deal with a compromised iPhone

You can recover your iPhone if you act quickly. The more time you give hackers, the more damage they’ll do. If something feels off with your iPhone, follow these steps immediately.

Run a malware scan

We always advise taking a proactive approach with regular malware scans. If you wait for the red flags, the hacker has already done some damage.

We recommend Norton 360 Security as the best antivirus for iPhones. It offers comprehensive protection against malicious software and identity theft. You can buy Norton Mobile Security as a standalone product. You'll also get it with every Norton 360 with LifeLock plan and Norton 360 Deluxe.

Aside from Norton, we’ve reviewed dozens of antivirus programs and can also recommend:

  • McAfee: It offers robust protection and a free plan. It also has an iOS app that automatically updates your operating system.

Get McAfee | Read our McAfee review

  • TotalAV: An affordable option that caters to antivirus beginners and experts alike. It delivers real-time malware and phishing protection, deep scanning, and a VPN.

Get TotalAV Antivirus | Read our TotalAV Antivirus review

  • AVG: It comes with comprehensive phishing and malware protection and offers a free trial.

Get AVG | Read Our AVG Review

Delete the apps you don’t remember installing

Removing a virus from your iPhone can be as easy as deleting unrecognized apps. They can hide malware, no matter how legitimate they look.

Be sure to actually delete them — not just remove them from your home screen — using the following steps:

  1. On your home screen, press and hold on the icon of the unfamiliar app.
  2. When the icon comes to the forefront and displays options, choose Remove App at the top of the list.

Remove unknown devices

You can remove a hacker from your iPhone by unlinking their device from your Devices list.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. From your iPhone’s home screen, navigate to Settings.
  2. Click on your name/Apple ID at the top.
  3. Scroll down to view the devices your phone recognizes and can connect to.
  4. Select any that you don’t recognize.
  5. Click Remove from Account.

Be careful with linked devices used for two-factor authentication (2FA). If you remove them, you won't be able to complete 2FA, and you'll lose access to the relevant applications.

Remove suspicious configuration profiles

Configuration profiles you don’t recognize could be related to malicious activity. They might simply be old, but it’s still safer to remove them.

You can do it in three simple steps:

  1. From your iPhone’s home screen, navigate to Settings.
  2. Go to General.
  3. Scroll to the bottom to view Profiles (If you don’t see the option, you don’t have any configuration profiles).
  4. Select the profile you wish to remove and click Remove Profile. If you have a passcode, you’ll need to enter it when prompted and then click Delete.

Freeze your credit

Identity theft is the worst outcome of a compromised iPhone. The hacker will steal your bank account info, social security number, and more. Your credit score will also plummet due to their actions.

A credit freeze will restrict access to your report. Lenders who can't see your credit file won't extend credit. In other words, it prevents hackers from opening fraudulent online accounts in your name.

As of September 21, 2018, you can freeze your credit at Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion for free. Contact them through their websites or by phone to enact a freeze.

Cancel linked credit cards

If a credit card is linked to your compromised Apple ID, you should cancel it immediately. The criminal can misuse it if you leave it active. Do not start with Apple — contact your credit card company first.

The canceling process will depend on the institution. So, start by visiting their websites or calling their customer service. This can take some time, so the faster you act, the better.

Check your app permissions

Broad app permissions can be extremely dangerous when a hacker infiltrates your iPhone. Since they control the malicious app, they can steal as much info as you let them. For example, they can record you (video and audio), watch your photos, read your messages, and much more.

You'll have to give some essential permissions. However, we recommend keeping them limited to basic functionality. A weather app can work without access to your photos or messages.

Use the following steps to run an app permission audit:

  1. From your iPhone’s home screen, navigate to Settings.
  2. Select Privacy & Security.
  3. You’ll see a list of features, including Contacts, Bluetooth, Photos, and more. If you select one of these features, you’ll see which apps can use them, indicated by a green toggle icon.
  4. Swipe the toggle icon to the left (it should turn black) to deny permission.

Clear your cache and browser history

Browsers, apps, and operating systems keep caches that store your usage data. Since we seldom delete them, hackers can use them as malware deposits.

Every browser and system with a cache differs and requires distinct steps to clear it. Here's how to clear your Chrome cache:

  1. In Chrome, click More in the top right of your browser. If you don’t see More, click the three vertical dots.
  2. Click More tools and then Clear browsing data.
  3. At the top, choose a time range. To delete everything, select All time.
  4. Check the boxes next to the items you wish to clear.
  5. Click Clear data.

Factory reset your iPhone

You should factory reset your iPhone only as a last resort. This action will wipe all data from your device and restore it to default settings.

A factory reset will install the latest iOS version but might not remove all malware. Unfortunately, some persistent infections might survive a complete wipe.

Follow these steps to factory reset your iPhone:

  1. From your iPhone home screen, go to Settings.
  2. Select General and then Transfer or Reset iPhone.
  3. Click Erase All Content and Settings.
  4. When prompted to update your iCloud backup, select Back Up Then Erase if you haven’t already backed up your data. Otherwise, click Erase Now.
  5. Enter your passcode and click Erase.
  6. In the new dialog box, click Erase, and the reset process will start.

Report the hack to Apple

After taking the above steps, you should report the hack to Apple support so the company is aware of the malicious activity. Alternatively, you can physically go to an Apple store to report it in person.

How to protect your iPhone from hackers

You can proactively protect your iPhone from hackers in a number of ways. Here are the essential ones:

  • Install the latest software updates: New iOS versions come with security upgrades and patches for known problems.
  • Set up multi-factor authentication: At a minimum, set up a 2FA as an extra layer of security.
  • Use a virtual private network: VPNs like Surfshark offer affordable encryption. This prevents hackers from monitoring and logging your traffic. Check out our list of the best VPNs for iPhone.
  • Update your auto-lock and passcode: Make sure your iPhone auto-locks. Also, reset your passcode if you haven’t done so in over a year.
  • Don’t jailbreak your phone: Sideloading unvetted apps is as tempting as it is dangerous. However, they can be riddled with malware and infect your device.
  • Enable Find My iPhone: This app lets you physically locate your phone. If you lose it, this will prevent theft and hacking or at least minimize the damage.
  • Ignore, delete, or report suspicious emails, messages, phone calls, or calendar invites: All suspicious messages can be phishing attempts to steal information from you.
  • Enable the Erase Data option: This setting makes your iPhone erase all data after several failed passcode attempts.
  • Turn off Bluetooth when you’re not using it: Doing so limits the number of external devices your iPhone tries to connect to. More importantly, it prevents malicious devices from connecting to your iPhone.

Can iPhones get hacked FAQ


How to secure my iPhone from hackers?

You can take a number of steps to secure your iPhone from hackers, including using a VPN, updating your passcode, turning off Bluetooth, and enabling Find My iPhone. Check out our list of the best password managers for iPhone to get started with securing the passwords on your device.


How will I know if my iPhone is hacked?

There will likely be signs, including a fast-draining battery, a dip in device performance, unfamiliar apps on your home screen, or strange messages issuing from your iPhone.


Have iPhones ever been hacked?

Yes — less frequently than other types of smartphones, but they have certainly been hacked.


Can someone hack my iPhone by calling me?

Hackers can gain access to your iPhone through phone calls only if you tell them something they can use against you (your credit card info, for example). As long as you’re aware of this, they won’t be able to hack you.


Can I scan my iPhone for spyware?

Yes, you can run malware scans by using antivirus software to detect spyware on your iPhone.


How do I clean my iPhone from viruses?

There are a number of steps you can take to clean your iPhone from viruses, including running malware scans, removing unfamiliar apps, or — in the worst-case scenario — performing a factory reset.

Bottom Line

While iPhones are harder to hack than Android devices, they are definitely susceptible to cybercrime. Cyberthreats evolve on a daily basis, and not even Apple can keep up with them. iPhones also occasionally contain security vulnerabilities that get patched with new software versions, so they are not 100% hack proof.

The best thing you can do to prevent someone from hacking your iPhone is to stay vigilant about basic security measures. Using antivirus software, changing your passcode frequently, and refraining from jailbreaking your iPhone are three places to start. Check out our comprehensive review of the most reliable antivirus programs to learn more.

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Author Details
Juliana Kenny is a seasoned writer with over a decade of experience in cybersecurity topics. She holds a B.A. in English with a concentration in Irish Literature, a B.A. in French, and a minor in Art History. Since 2010, she has explored the dynamic intersection of technology and security, specializing in endpoint security, cloud security, and networking technologies like secure access service edge (SASE).