If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Can an iPhone be hacked?” the answer, though it may surprise you, is a resounding “yes.” Here’s what you should know:

Hacked Off

An iPhone is more than just a mobile phone: it’s a personal computer you carry in your pocket, and like any computer, it contains a lot of personal and precious data. It also contains an operating system similar to that of a computer, which makes it highly susceptible to the growing army of unscrupulous and innovative hackers who just love a challenge. Despite Apple’s team of engineers working around the clock to resolve any security issues, the iPhone remains a potential and rewarding target for cyber criminals.

iPhone_at_Macworld_-rear_view-Can an iPhone Be Hacked Remotely?

Due to the intensive and watertight security of Apple’s iOS, having your iPhone hacked remotely has never been considered a realistic threat or something for iPhone users to lose sleep over. However, way back in 2009, at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, security experts Charlie Miller and Collin Mulliner exposed an iPhone virus capable of hacking your device through a simple text message.

The hack involves sending a code contained within an SMS. The text would appear as a solitary square character. Upon receiving the SMS, your iPhone would crash, and in the aftermath the device and all its functions would be in the sole control of the hacker. Apple has obviously taken precautions since this concern was exposed, as very few cases of remote iPhone hacking have ever surfaced, but hackers are always working on new attacks, and Apple needs to stay on its toes.

Can Your iPhone Be Hacked When Charging?

At the 2013 Black Hat conference, tech hackers Billy Lau, YeongJin Jang, and Chengyu Song demonstrated how a modified charger could hack your iPhone. This hack works by uploading malicious software as your device is charging and replacing a real app with a fake one in less than a minute. Once users enter their passcode, the Trojan awakes, the iPhone is compromised, and sensitive data is at risk.

The modified charger has been named a “Mactan,” which is part of the Latin name for a virulent and pernicious black widow spider. Apple has yet to address this issue, which renders all iPhone devices at risk; in the meantime, users may want to keep a close eye on their chargers and not use anyone else’s.

Can Your iPhone Be Hacked with Fingerprint Technology?

When your iPhone is stolen, the passcode can be easily circumvented and the device hacked by any criminal with just a little tech knowledge. With the launch of the iPhone 5s, Apple hopes to put an end to the abundance of stolen devices which were subsequently hacked. The iPhone 5s contains a unique fingerprint scanner.

However, concerns have already been raised about the new technology. Fingerprints may be unique, but fingerprint scanners can be temperamental, and there is a risk that an iPhone user could be prevented from accessing her data due to an overzealous scanner which fails to walk the fine line between convenience and security. In the face of such issues, users will simply disable the scanner, and the iPhone will once more be at risk of being hacked… except this time, the hackers will not only have access to your device’s data but potential access to your encrypted fingerprint data, which — unlike a passcode — can’t be changed.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Paul Williams
Paul Williams

Paul Williams brings a wide range of experiences to his writing. He worked extensively in technology, as a software engineer, technical writer, and now a technology writer. Known as the leader of one of the top American Spacerock bands, his forward-looking music continues to be heard all over the world.