Using an iPhone may not be as safe as you thought

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Although many iPhone (opens in new tab) users think of themselves as unhackable, that simply isn't the case as the past few years have shown that our smartphones, whether they run iOS or Android, can be exposed to a wide variety of different vulnerabilities.

In a new blog post (opens in new tab), NordVPN (opens in new tab) has pitted the two most popular mobile operating systems against each other to reveal that while iOS is safer than Android when it comes to the security of its hardware and App Store, iOS security can still be breached.

For instance in August of 2019, Google Project Zero (opens in new tab) security researcher Ian Beer discovered an unseen vulnerability in a number of iPhones and other devices running iOS that allowed an attacker to reboot and take control of them remotely. By exploiting this vulnerability, an attacker could read emails, download photos and even potentially spy on users (opens in new tab) through their microphone and camera. Thankfully Apple released a fix for this issue and all up-to-date devices are now secure.

Digital privacy expert at NordVPN, Daniel Markuson (opens in new tab) provided further insight on this vulnerability and its implications when it comes to iOS security, saying:

“This case has proven that no one is ever fully safe. And even though there are no recordings of hackers using such a vulnerability, many Apple users should be more cautious and maybe forget the fact that iPhones are unhackable.”

iPhone security

One of the most common ways to take control of your iPhone or at least your Apple ID (opens in new tab) is through guessing your password. This can be easily done if you reused your password across multiple accounts and it found its way into NordVPN's list of the most common passwords (opens in new tab).

For this reason, you should avoid reusing passwords and ensure that you create a strong, unique and complex password for each one of your accounts. While you could use a password generator (opens in new tab) to achieve this, most password managers (opens in new tab) now have this capability in addition to being able store and sync your passwords across devices.

Besides exploiting vulnerabilities or guessing your password, cybercriminals can also gain access to your iPhone through human error. For instance, someone might send you a suspicious link or use a fake landing page in order to steal your credentials. At the same time though, an app could request unnecessary permissions (opens in new tab) to location services or to your camera as another means to steal your data.

Finally, unprotected or public WiFi networks (opens in new tab) are often used by hackers to steal personal information which is why you should always secure your iPhone with a VPN (opens in new tab) when connecting to networks outside of your home.

While Apple's iPhone may be more secure than some Android smartphones (opens in new tab), the tricks and tools used by hackers can be used to compromise anyone's accounts or devices which is why our online security is something we all need to take more seriously.

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.