iPhone Privacy: A User Guide

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The fear of someone installing malware on your iPhone spying on what you’re doing is horrible and a real threat to us in the digital age.

But is it true? Can someone install malware and see what you’re doing?

It is possible to install spyware onto an iPhone to monitor its phone activity and even remotely turn on the camera and microphone. 

It’s a scary thought, but it is 100% possible that someone can spy on your iPhone. So keep reading for the tell-tale to know if someone is spying on your iPhone and what you can do about it.

14 Ways To Tell Someone Is Spying On Your iPhone

  • Check what devices are signed in to your Apple ID by going to Settings > [Your Name].
  • Check to see if there’s an unexpected alternate appearance or additional fingerprint set on your device.
  • Sign in to https://appleid.apple.com/ and review your account’s personal and security information.
  • Review installed apps on your device and look for apps you don’t recognize or remember installing.
  • Look for an unknown Mobile Device Management (MPD) on your iPhone.
  • If your iPhone is rooted or jailbroken, it is easier to get hacked.
  • Your iPhone is getting very hot.
  • Your battery drains very fast.
  • You have strange activity in standby mode.
  • You have issues shutting down the iPhone.
  • Odd SMS messages.
  • Autocorrect is misbehaving
  • Your screenshot quality is bad.

Above is a combination of Apple’s checklist of knowing if someone had or has access to your iPhone or Apple accounts and 10 VPN guides on how to tell your phone has spyware installed.

1. Check What Devices Are Signed Into Your Apple Account

If you sign in to your Apple ID via Settings > [Your Name] and see an iPad signed in to your Apple ID and don’t have an iPad, it is a red flag someone has hacked your Apple ID. Please click the device’s name and select ‘Remove From Account.’

For example, I only own an iPhone 7 plus and a MacBook Air, assigned to my Apple ID.

2. See if There Are Additional Fingerprints of Unexpected Appearance on Your Device.

If you assigned two fingerprints on your device and you check, and there are three, likely someones you know logged into your iPhone without you knowing and added their fingerprint or Face ID to login to your iPhone.

Follow the instructions to use Face ID on your iPhone or iPad Pro, or use Touch ID on iPhone and iPad to check for anything you don’t recognize.

3. Review the Personal and Security Information in Your Account.

Sign in to appleid.apple.com, check all the personal and security information tied to your account, and see if someone added additional information. For example, if someone hacked your Apple ID, they might have added their verification email to your account.

Ensure your information is up to date. If you have two-factor authentication turned on, review any devices and remove those you don’t recognize. If your account doesn’t have two-factor authentication, turn it on to a mobile number you have access to.

Please read my detailed guide for more information about Apple ID, like using the same ID on multiple devices.

4. Review Your Installed Apps and See if You Recognize Everything.

If you see any downloaded applications that you don’t know, this is a bad sign your Apple ID or iPhone has spyware installed.

Look at apps on the App Store and see what their purpose is. Maybe you installed it but forgot why you did. Regardless, change your Apple ID password to be safe.

Just applies to music or any media you downloaded. If someone has access to your iPhones camera that might have taken photos, you never look watchful.

5. Look at Mobile Device Management Profiles.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) are profiles installed by employers, schools, or other official organizations that allow additional access to your device. Look for a known MDM profile on your Apple Device via Settings > General > Profiles & Device Management.

If you don’t see this option in your settings, your iPhone has no profiles installed.

Check out Apple’s additional checklists if you want to stop sharing with someone you previously shared with and if you want to make sure no one else can see your location

You can download and read Device and Data Access when Personal Safety is At Risk for even more detailed information. 

6. Check if the Device Is ‘Jailbroken.’

A jailbroken iPhone allows you to bypass the official app store and install unapproved apps. If your iPhone is jailbroken without your knowledge, that’s huge evidence someone has installed spyware onto your iPhone.

‘Rooting’ an Android device or ‘jailbreaking’ an iOS device allows users to bypass the official app stores and install unapproved apps.

To check whether an iOS device has been jailbroken, look for an app called ‘Cydia.’ Cydia is used to install software onto jailbroken phones. If you find it on your device, then it’s almost certain your phone has been jailbroken.

If you bought a second-hand iPhone, you should always restore it to factory settings to ensure it isn’t jailbroken.

To do this go to Settings > General > Transfer or Reset iPhone > Reset. Choose an option: WARNING: If you choose the Erase All Content and Settings option, all of your content is removed.

For more information on Apple account recovery, you can learn more in my detailed article.

7. Your iPhone’s Battery Is Draining Fast.

If overnight, your battery suddenly drains down faster than usual, this could be a sign spyware is constantly working, putting a drain on your battery.

Maybe you dropped it one time too many. Learn the other symptoms of internal damage in my article. Also, check all the recently installed or updated; you will be surprised how powerful-hungry certain social media apps can be.

8. Your iPhone Gets Very Hot.

Your iPhone getting hot could be a sign someone is spying on you via running spyware on your iPhone. Check if your iPhone gets very hot when you’re not using it or when you’re barely using it. If you notice a sudden drop in your iPhones speed, this could be because of spying as your iPhone’s resources are directed towards the spying app, making your iPhone run slower.

However, this is another sign that I explain in my article about internal damage. If your iPhone gets hot or the battery drains fast, this isn’t proof by itself, but if it does with the other things mentioned in this article, you have to worry.

9. Your iPhone Has Unusually High Data Usage.

A spy app needs to use data to send information back to the spy. So if you notice a huge increase in data usage, this is a sign that spyware is constantly running in your background.

Go to Settings > Cellular or Settings > Mobile Data to check data usage on your iPhone. These only track cellular data on the internet you use when not connected to Wi-Fi. If your iPhone is always connected to Wi-Fi, this isn’t much help.

However, rule out legitimate apps first by checking the data consumption of specific apps; you might notice a huge uptick in data usage but discover your new podcast app was downloading lots of podcasts.

Curious if using your iPhone without Wi-Fi or data is even possible? To know for sure, you can read my detailed article.

10. Strange Activity in Standby Mode.

When your iPhone is in sleep mode, it can still receive messages and calls, but it shouldn’t be lighting up or making noises. If it is, this suggests spyware is installed.

Your iPhones screen should be off and not just darkened in standby mode.

11. You Have Problems Turning off Your iPhone.

Spyware apps could change your iPhone’s shutdown process, so it doesn’t turn off properly. However, it doesn’t take long, so it should only take around 10 seconds to turn off.

In 2014, Edward Snowden revealed NSA technology that prevents phones from switching off fully, to use them for eavesdropping then, showcasing this form of spying is possible. On the Joe Rogan podcast, Snowden said the only true way to prevent someone from spying on your phone is to disconnect the battery.

If you notice your iPhone randomly turning off and restarting, spyware is installed onto your iPhone.

Maybe your Apple ID got hacked due to Apple notes. To know how safe it is, I suggest you read my article.

12. Strange SMS Messages.

Spyware and malware can use text messages to send and receive data. So if you see any messages that you didn’t send, that’s a huge indicator something is not right. Look for unusual income messages to be sure.

Basic spyware apps can use SMS messages to communicate with the spy. These messages will likely be coded to look for messages that contain the text you don’t understand.

There are also services like Cerberus, which send hidden commands within SMS messages that can make your phone take a picture and email it to the perpetrator, wipe your SD card, take a screenshot, and do many other invasive things.

13. Your AutoCorrect Has Issues.

Keyloggers are a form of spyware that records what you type, someone spying on your iPhone could have access to everything you type, and yes, that includes your login information!

If you see autocorrect not working properly or working slower than usual, this could be someone is spying on your iPhone.

14. Your Screenshot Quality Is Bad.

According to Malwarebytes, if your screenshot quality is bad, this could result from spyware.

CAUTION: These issues are not exclusive to spyware that other forms of malware can cause, AdWare can slow down your iPhone and use data, and websites that mine your iPhone for information can consume more than 5% of your battery power in ten minutes.

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