Can iPhones get hacked? Yes, and here’s how to handle it (2024)

While iPhones are known for their security, they're not impregnable. If you’ve ever wondered if your iPhone can get hacked, the answer is yes, they can. Find out how it happens and how to recover. And use a reliable mobile security app to help keep hackers off your phone.

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To be sure, the built-in security of iOS means that iPhones are generally safe. But like any device, iPhones aren’t immune to hackers. Thankfully, if you think somebody hacked your phone, there are steps you can take to recover and make your iPhone safe to use again.

Let’s look at some myths about iPhone security, how somebody can hack an iPhone, signs to look out for, and how to deal with a hacked phone.

Common security myths about iPhones

Some people believe iPhones that haven’t been jailbroken are unhackable, but that’s a myth. And while it’s commonly believed that iOS devices are more secure, they can still get viruses and malware if the user makes a Cyber Safety misstep.

Here are a few debunked iPhone security myths to bear in mind:

Myth: iPhones can’t get viruses

While hackers and bad actors are less likely to successfully infect iOS devices with viruses because of their “closed ecosystem” infrastructure, it’s still possible. And you might take more risks if you (falsely) believe nothing can impact your mobile device. Riskier behavior can increase the likelihood of clicking on an unsafe link or downloading a suspicious app, which can lead to your iPhone getting a virus.

Tip: Always double-check that links in emails and texts are from trustworthy sources. Check email addresses and phone numbers before clicking to help avoid hacking attacks.

Myth: iPhone apps are all safe

Not all apps are safe, not even those on Apple’s official App Store. Dangerous apps can slip past Apple's App Store review by disguising malicious code within legitimate functions or hiding it to activate later. However, this is rare because of Apple’s walled garden, which is essentially a comprehensive set of device and operating system security measures that help block threats.

Beyond that, many older and third-party apps have security flaws that hackers and criminals can exploit to gain a foothold in your iPhone.

Tip: Before downloading an app, check the App Store for reviews, number of downloads, developer information, typos in the app description, and the app’s permissions to ensure it’s legitimate.

Myth: Only jailbroken iPhones are at risk of hackers

Jailbreaking an iPhone can make it more susceptible to hacking because it removes the device’s built-in guardrails and defenses. But no iPhone is completely safe. Phishing attacks and other social engineering techniques can be effective iPhone hacking methods because they trick people into compromising their own security and bypassing iOS security features.

Additionally, Pegasus spyware is an advanced type of malware that can infect iPhone devices, and security researchers have discovered other examples of zero-click iPhone vulnerabilities.

Tip: If an app is available only through third-party app stores that require your phone to be jailbroken, look for safer alternatives in the official App Store.

How can iPhones get hacked?

Unfortunately, a cybercriminal can hack your iPhone in a variety of ways. Here’s a rundown of some of the most common ways criminals hack iPhones:

  • Malware: Malware can be disguised as a legitimate app or file that you download unintentionally. Once it’s on your iPhone, malware can hijack your phone’s resources and steal sensitive information.
  • Unsecured Wi-Fi: Public Wi-Fi networks are often unencrypted, potentially exposing the data you send and receive—including logins, messages, and financial data—to hackers.
  • Phishing: Phishing scams arrive as emails or messages that look like they’re from a trusted source. But once you click, the hackers can steal your login information and credit card numbers or infect your device with malware.
  • Jailbroken phone: Jailbreaking removes the security features Apple places on iPhones, opening the door to potentially dangerous unauthorized tweaks and unapproved apps.
  • Physically: If a bad actor can get to your phone, they can plug it into a computer and load malware onto your device. Or, someone you know may learn or guess your passcode to access your device.
Can iPhones get hacked? Yes, and here’s how to handle it (1)

Now that you understand how your device can be hacked, let’s examine some signs that your iPhone may be compromised.

6 signs your iPhone has been hacked

Determining if your phone is tapped or hacked isn’t always obvious, but some signs could indicate that a hacker or malware is invading your privacy. Not all glitches or slowdowns are a sign that a hacker has control of your device, but recognizing these red flags could help you stop a hacker before they get too much of your personal information.

Your phone runs poorly, and its battery drains faster than it should

A phone’s battery naturally drains faster as it ages, but if you’ve noticed a significant drop in battery life over a short period, it might mean somebody hacked youriPhone. That’s because malicious software can run silently in the background, constantly consuming battery power.

If you have fewer hours of battery per charge, start by checking your battery’s health to see if it’s a problem with the battery itself. On your iPhone, tap Settings > Battery > Battery Health. This will show you a breakdown of your recent battery consumption and help you identify suspicious activity.

You’re locked out of your Apple ID

One of the first things many hackers do once they have access to an iPhone or another iOS device is change the Apple ID password to lock the owner out of their account. Because so much of normal iPhone usage requires the Apple ID, you’ll probably notice that you’ve been locked out quickly.

Perform a password reset using another device to secure your account, and change your password to something more secure to keep them from getting back in.

You have apps you didn’t download

If you start seeing apps you didn’t download on your home screen, it could mean that a hacker has control of your phone. They might have gained access by sending you a link to malware, or they could have exploited weakened security in an app.

Delete any apps you didn’t download without opening them. On your iPhone, hold the app icon until it opens a new window, and tap Remove App. Then, tap Delete app and Delete to remove the app from your phone and delete its data.

Friends and family receive strange messages from your number

If you’ve ever woken up to texts and emails from your contacts asking if you sent them strange messages, that could be a sign of a hacker. If hackers can access your accounts, they can send messages with dangerous links to people in your address books. If they click those links, malware could be downloaded onto their devices, further increasing the hacker’s reach.

If you find out someone has been sending emails or texts from your accounts, create more secure passwords immediately—especially on any potentially compromised accounts, including your Apple ID password. You should also turn on two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible to make it more difficult for hackers to control your accounts.

You’re using a lot more data than normal

Surges in data usage could be a sign that a hacker has control over your phone. Malware, spyware, and other malicious software can receive and send data constantly, even when you aren’t using your phone.

To check your data usage, tap Settings > Cellular. In this menu, look for suspicious spikes in data usage, especially by any apps you don’t remember downloading. Then, toggle off the switch to prevent the apps from transmitting and downloading data, and permanently delete them from your phone.

You have a lot of pop-ups and ads on your phone

There’s no way to fully get rid of pop-ups, but ad blockers and reliable browsers like Safari do a good job of blocking most. If you’re using tools like these and start to notice an uptick in pop-ups, that could signal that there’s some kind of virus on your iPhone.

In some cases, hackers will even design malware to mimic the look and language of legitimate pop-ups to scare you into clicking unsafe links or downloading more malware. This scareware can be difficult to detect but is easy enough to avoid.

Close any browser window that has a pop-up and don’t click any links. Then, download Norton Ad Blocker to help shield yourself from annoying and potentially malicious iPhone pop-ups.

What to do if your iPhone has been hacked

If your iPhone was hacked, there are several steps you can take to help remove a hacker from your phone. Depending on what the hacker has done, the malware they may have installed on your device, and whether or not your phone has been jailbroken, some of these tips may not work. But before you perform a factory reset or buy a new phone, give these options a shot.

Can iPhones get hacked? Yes, and here’s how to handle it (2)

Run a scan for malware

iPhones have built-in security that should catch a lot of the malware out there. But no system is perfect. Using additional security software and running a malware scan can offer extra protection from malware and hackers by helping to identify and root out threats.

Delete apps you didn’t download or don’t use

Keep your iPhone clean by removing unused or unknown apps. These apps can be gateways for hackers to steal data or track you online. Deleting apps you don’t use minimizes your exposure to vulnerabilities and can disrupt existing hacking by removing the tool the hacker used.

Delete any apps you didn’t download without opening them. On your iPhone, hold the app icon until it opens a new window, and tap Remove App. Then, tap Delete app and Delete to remove the app from your phone and delete its data.

Remove unknown devices from your profile

Do you see unfamiliar devices attached to your Apple ID? These could be access points for hackers. Remove them to cut off potential backdoors, and remove any devices you don’t use anymore.

To remove these devices, go to Settings > Apple ID and scroll down to see the devices associated with your ID. Look for devices you don’t recognize, tap on the icon, scroll to the bottom, and tap Remove from Account.

Change your passwords

Good password security practices mean changing your passwords regularly. While you shouldn’t wait until your iPhone is hacked to change your passwords, it’s better late than never. Always:

  • Make your new passwords long and unique (meaning don’t use them on more than one account).
  • Use a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Change your password if you notice any signs of hacking or malware.

Start by changing your Apple ID password and the email password associated with your Apple ID. After that, change the passwords for any apps you use and any accounts you access on your phone’s browser. This can be time-consuming, so consider using a password manager to help you create, manage, and securely store your passwords.

Update your phone

Regular software updates are designed to patch vulnerabilities and flaws in your iPhone’s operating system. You should be aware of two kinds of updates: operating system updates and app updates.

To update your operating system:

  1. Tap Settings > General > Software Update.
  2. On that screen, you can set your phone up to update automatically.


To update apps:

  1. Tap on the Apple App Store icon.
  2. Tap your Apple ID picture in the top right.
  3. Tap Update All.

Use Find My iPhone

Find My iPhone can be useful, even if somebody already hacked your iPhone. You can lock your device remotely by enabling Lost Mode through Find My iPhone, rendering stolen data inaccessible. This boots out the hacker and secures your iPhone while you locate it or erase its contents.

To use Lost Mode:

  1. Sign into iCloud on a trusted device.
  2. Navigate to Find My iPhone.
  3. Select your device.
  4. Choose Lost Mode.

Download a VPN

A VPN on your iPhone encrypts your internet traffic, making it harder for hackers to steal in-transit data while you're using the internet, even on an unsecured public Wi-Fi connection.

For a multi-layered defense against hackers, combine a reliable VPN like Norton Secure VPN with other online security measures like strong passwords and regular software updates.

Get Norton Secure VPN

Use 2FA/MFA

Two-factor authentication (2FA) can be a powerful shield against hackers. Even if someone steals your password, they won’t be unable to access your accountbecause 2FA requires a second form of identification to log in. These second factors can be text messages, Face ID, or a code generated by an authenticator app. This extra step makes it nearly impossible for anyone to get your information unless they have your device.

To turn 2FA on, look for Security or Two-factor authentication in an app's settings and follow the on-screen instructions.

Protect your phone from hackers and malware

Following the tips above can significantly bolster your iPhone's defenses. And sign up for Norton Mobile Security for iOS to add an extra layer of powerful, proactive protection.

As well as helping to identify and button up weaknesses in your device security, Norton Mobile Security comes with a full suite of advanced security features including safer web browsing, dedicated Wi-Fi security, and anti-SMS phishing protection.

Get Norton Mobile Security for iOS

FAQs about how to tell if your iPhone is hacked

Still have questions about whether iPhones can get hacked? We have answers.

What does it look like when your iPhone is hacked?

There are several signs that your iPhone may be hacked, including:

  • Reduced battery life
  • Increased data usage
  • Poor phone performance
  • Apps you didn’t download
  • Being locked out of your Apple ID

Can someone hack my iPhone and remotely access it?

Hackers can use spyware to remotely access your iPhone. Regular malware scans and smart digital security practices can help reduce the risk of a hacker accessing your iPhone remotely.

Can iPhones get hacked from text messages?

Yes, iPhones can be hacked from text messages if you click a malicious link in the text that leads you to a phishing website or directs you to download malware or spyware.

Can iPhones get hacked from websites?

Yes, iPhones can be hacked by visiting malicious websites. If somebody created a website to phish your personal information, like logins, hackers can use that information to access your accounts and devices. Other sites can contain drive-by malware that may give a hacker a way into your device.

Are Androids or iPhones safer?

Android phones and iPhones are both at risk of malware and hackers. Because the Android operating system is open source and powers more devices than iOS, it may make it a more attractive target to hackers. Good security practices can make using either kind of device safer.

Does *#21 really tell you if your phone is hacked?

No, dialing *#21 does not tell you if your phone is hacked. That code is designed to tell you about the status of any call forwarding set up on your device. And while keeping control over your call forwarding is good digital hygiene, the status of call forwarding itself won’t tell you if there is malware on your device or alert you to other forms of hacking.

Note: iPhone is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

Can iPhones get hacked? Yes, and here’s how to handle it (2024)

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