Whatever model of mobile you use, it’s your responsibility to get educated about the security threats you face each day. iPhone owners are definitely better off with a basic understanding of modern risks under their belts. So let’s go over the most important info regarding spyware in particular so that you can steer clear of it where possible, and deal with infections when they do arise.
Spyware is everywhere
The issue of spyware is near universal, extending beyond smartphones to include every type of connected device.
However, since our handsets are so essential to modern life, they’re prime targets for cybercriminal groups who develop malicious software. And that makes them more likely to be targeted and successfully infected as a result.
As such it’s not a question of if your iPhone will encounter spyware, but when. Don’t feel smug just because Android is more frequently attacked in this manner; there are still plenty of underhanded campaigns tailored to Apple fans which you need to be clued up on.
Infections can occur in many ways
Hackers can wangle their way onto your iPhone through multiple avenues, including:
Malicious links sent via SMS are widely associated with identity theft, since unsuspecting mobile users are easily duped when messages they receive look legitimate.
Scammers can claim to represent a government body, a parcel delivery service, or anything in between to trick people into clicking links which end up downloading spyware onto their phone instead.
In much the same way as malicious texts, a scam email either containing spyware itself or linking to it elsewhere online is another tried and tested strategy.
Google has had to step in to remove apps for spying on users, and even with tighter measures put in place to prevent exploitation of the Play Store marketplace, there’s still a risk associated with downloading little-known software from legitimate platforms.
This also applies to Apple’s own digital store, so think twice before you download any app that doesn’t have many reviews.
This is another widespread way for spyware to end up on iPhones, and requires that a third party has physical access to your handset in order to install the malicious software of their choice.
As such, leaving your phone on show and unattended in public is always unwise. Even if it doesn’t get stolen, it could end up infected, and can then be used to monitor your every move, steal your data, eavesdrop on your conversations and much more.
Using a custom lock screen which is protected from unauthorized users and is still functional and fun for your own interactions makes sense.
Lastly, if you visit dodgy websites using your iPhone, this could be a backdoor by which spyware infections occur. So stick to well known, secure sites instead.
Checking your iPhone for spyware
Having an iPhone hacked with data-stealing spyware is not the end of the world, but the main obstacle to overcome is detecting the infection in the first place.
There are lots of telltale signs to keep in mind, such as:
An iPhone which isn’t as snappy to respond as usual could be a sign of spyware running in the background and monopolizing system resources without your knowledge.
High data use
Spyware typically relies on sending a lot of data to the cybercriminals that created it, and of course this shows up on your network usage statistics. So if you’ve noticed an inexplicable uptick in data usage, the culprit could be spyware.
Bad battery life
Sure, the average iPhone will see battery life degrade slowly over the years. But if this happens suddenly, and you’ve barely used it, spyware might be responsible. This is because of the aforementioned use of system resources, which of course requires more energy from your battery.
Audio oddities on calls
Keeping your ears open when you’re taking voice calls will let you pick up any aberrations in the audio that could indicate the call is being listened in on by spyware.
Of course even if you don’t detect any of these issues, the best option is to play it safe by assuming your iPhone will face off against spyware at some point. That means having a well regarded security app installed, and running regular scans with it to look for problematic software which is buried from view.
Again, it’s important to be proactive, rather than waiting until your device is infected before you bring security software into the mix.
The fallout from a compromised phone can be significant
So why should you care about spyware, and what makes it worth going to the trouble of changing your habits and using security software frequently?
Well the simple answer is that your private data could end up in the wrong hands, at which point your entire life hangs in the balance.
Data theft from an iPhone or any other device can allow crooks to spoof your identity for everything from taking out bank loans to going on e-commerce shopping sprees.
It’s not just about losing money in the short term, but also the long term impact that this type of fraud might have on things like your credit rating.
This information could also be used for far more nefarious means, such as tracking your location via GPS. And you can imagine what a criminal might choose to do with this data.
The bottom line
Spyware is not a threat iPhone owners can take lightly. It’s a real and present danger whenever and wherever you use your mobile, and so you need to respond proportionally to this threat.
One final thing to note is that Apple does a good job of securing its smartphones at an OS level, so installing the latest updates is another must for security-conscious iPhone fans. That way you won’t be exposing yourself to threats that have already been patched, and will also get the latest features as soon as possible.