9 min read

1. Signs of Hacked or Cloned Devices

Hacked or cloned devices are a result of your information being intercepted and practically stolen when you think you are using a secure network, or the utilization of multiple hacking measures to obtain access to your mobile device. Cloning involves copying the SIM card, allowing access to your call history, text messages, and list of contacts. Common surrounding factors of hack include your device being used as a tool to intercept information from others, sending of unsolicited commercial messages, or an attempt to sell you a service. At the point when both of these actions are occurring your mobile device is vulnerable to viruses, and truly the best measure to take should constant unusual behavior become apparent is to format both your phone and memory card, by doing so you can prevent a big headache resulting from having to deal with the problems they can cause.

Here are 10 products on Amazon recommended by USA-Cybersecurity that can help Apple device users determine if their device has been hacked, cloned, or has a virus:

  1. Norton Mobile Security: Offers robust protection for Apple devices with features like anti-phishing and identity theft monitoring. It provides a comprehensive security suite for mobile and PC users.
  2. Bitdefender Mobile Security: Known for its lightweight malware scanner and a fast VPN, Bitdefender Mobile Security offers real-time protection and innovative app behavior monitoring to alert users of any suspicious activities.
  3. McAfee Mobile Security: Provides excellent malware protection and web security features, including anti-phishing and a Wi-Fi scanner. It’s particularly strong in protecting against malicious downloads and unsecured hotspots.
  4. Kaspersky Internet Security for Apple: This software is designed to protect Android devices from malware and includes features like anti-theft and privacy protection.
  5. AVG AntiVirus FREE for Apple: Provides basic antivirus protection plus privacy and performance tools, making it a solid choice for comprehensive security maintenance on Android devices.
  6. Avast Mobile Security: Another popular choice that offers a range of features including antivirus protection, app locking, and call blocker to keep Apple devices secure.
  7. ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus: Features an antivirus as well as a real-time scanning and security audit tool to check device security status.
  8. Trend Micro Mobile Security & Antivirus: Offers robust protection against malware and ransomware, includes privacy scanning, and safe surfing features to protect data.
  9. Lookout Security & Antivirus: Provides comprehensive security features including malware protection, system advisor, and safe browsing.
  10. Malwarebytes Security: Known for its effective removal of malware and ransomware, it also provides privacy audits for all apps to manage data access and control.

These tools are specifically designed to help Apple users identify and respond to security threats like malware, hacking, or cloning by providing real-time protection, scanning capabilities, and system monitoring. Each product has a variety of features to suit different needs, from basic virus removal to more advanced internet security solutions.

1.1. Unusual Battery Drain

Battery Drain: Keep in mind that one of the biggest variables in battery drain over time is iOS. Sometimes newer versions may drain battery faster on older devices, but the older devices due to iOS will not recognize the new battery that is put in. The biggest possibility of recognizing a hacked iPhone is that if it has started to drain its battery, and the battery has not gone through a full lifecycle. This can be detected through an app called "coconut battery". This hack occurs because without a new hardware battery replacement, iPhone will only recognize a battery has gone through 500 charge cycles when in reality the full lifecycle of a battery is between 1000-1500 cycles. This can be a complex issue because it is possible that the battery is a bad battery and not a clone, so an alternative is to use an app called 3U tools and check if your issue occurs when a good battery is recognized but often has a bad battery connected to it. Battery health information can be found in your device settings under the option "battery" and on this menu you can also see if any app has been draining excessive battery if you have plausible to believe the app is making the device a target for data mining.

1.2. Unexpected Data Usage

Unexpected data flow is a sign that your iPhone is hacked. Certain functions on a jailbroken iPhone use additional data as a result of downloading information from the phone to a remote server. As the hacker or data thief is downloading this information from your iPhone, the data usage will be substantial. Moreover, data being sent out from your iPhone will result in higher data usage, which can be seen by checking your data usage in "Settings > General > Usage > Cellular Usage". If this method of checking data usage is not available to you, contacting your mobile service provider to request the amount of data flow through your account can also be done. If high data usage is seen, restoring the iPhone with a jailbreak or clone to factory settings and setting up as a new device is a way to remove a hack or clone from the iPhone. Backing up the device and restoring from a backup will simply restore the hack or clone that was previously on the device. Note that a substantial amount of data usage could also be due to an application that has run amok or an automatic app refresh, so check to see if closing apps or turning off automatic app refresh changes the amount of data usage for any app that is using an absurd amount of data.

1.3. Slow Performance

You may notice that your iPhone has slowed down in its performance, taking longer to complete the same tasks and find information. There are many reasons why an iPhone may slow. It could be an app that is taking up too much power, or an app that needs to be updated, a low memory capacity on the phone, or the phone may need to be updated to the latest iOS operating system. Your slow iPhone may be due to an app running in the background. You can troubleshoot this by double clicking your home button and seeing if there are too many apps running in the background. If so, you will see more than one application window open. You can shut down a running app by pressing and holding the black app window and clicking the red circle with the "-" inside. If you figure out that it's not a background running app and the software is up to date, your problem may lie in the memory capacity. Try deleting some unnecessary data on your iPhone such as extra music or pictures. This method has been proven to speed up the iPhone. Upgrading to the latest iOS operating system is also another way to speed up the iPhone but it may not be a favorable option for everyone.

1.4. Strange Behavior or Pop-ups

Strange behavior may result in sluggishness and frequent data transfers that can also be evident in a changed homepage, either accidental or not. In general, if you find your device behaving abnormally, and you have the ability to isolate from external influences (jailbreak and installation of unapproved apps in the case of iPhone), it may come from a cloned device. Pop-ups were not addressed in any of the cloning articles online, but it is a definite side-effect of hacking. In general, pop-ups are a method of advertising, and are used because the advertiser knows it is effective. Pop-ups often occur when information is first accessed. The most common occurrence would be accessing the internet, but sending and receiving data can also trigger off an ad generator. This would result in receiving a pop-up whenever you do certain things, particularly an internet-related task. This might ring some alarm bells, but there are also apps that implement pop-up advertising as a monetizing method. To identify where the pop-ups are coming from, one would need to take note of what the user was doing each time a pop-up appears. Pop-up ads are more frequently an indicator of adware. An effective way to combat adware or phase it out is by advertising something that will better capture the viewer's attention. Ad generators can be isolated with firewall access logs and denied internet access, although the latter might cause the app to crash.

2. Detecting Viruses on Your iPhone or Apple Device

A good way to check for viruses is to determine if your phone bill has increased dramatically. A spike in your bill is usually attributed to increased data usage, and a virus could be the cause of that. Additionally, your infected iPhone could be sending SMS messages and spam to your contacts. This is usually a result of a form of adware and could be a sign of a virus. If your friends start to ask why you keep sending them spam, you may want to check your iPhone for viruses. A less harming, but still annoying aftermath of a virus is the sudden appearance of unfamiliar apps. If you see an app that you don't remember installing and it seems to have appeared out of nowhere, this could be the result of a virus. Take into consideration what was mentioned in 2.3. Be Cautious of Suspicious Apps and Links and apply that to any unfamiliar apps.One of the biggest myths in the iPhone world is that an iPhone can't get a virus. While for many years this statement was in fact true, that has recently changed. Due to the ever-growing third-party app market, the increased ability to access complex phone configurations, and many other factors, the truth is that iPhones can get viruses. While they may not be as easily spread as they are on a PC, they can still wreak havoc.

2.1. Install Reliable Antivirus Software

Installing reliable antivirus software is by far the best way to keep your iPhone or iPad safe from viruses. It is the most effective way to prevent malware from gaining access to your device and is very useful for identifying any existing threats. Antivirus software works by scanning your device and identifying any malware. Should any suspicious software be detected, it can be easily removed. Many antivirus apps also include real-time scanning, making it easy to identify threats as soon as they access your device. This is particularly useful in preventing malware from accessing your device via email. Due to the nature of the iOS platform (restricted access for third-party apps and limited rights for the user), it may be perceived that there is no need for antivirus software. While the chances of an iPhone becoming infected with malware are extremely low in comparison to other platforms, it is still possible for the device to become infected, providing that the malware can bypass any security restrictions. An example of this would be the recent case of malware that could jailbreak an iPhone and install unapproved apps. This not only bypasses Apple's security restrictions, but it also made use of a vulnerability in iOS, so it could theoretically have an adverse effect on any uninfected iOS devices.

2.2. Regularly Update Your Device's Operating System

So it is crucial to remember to keep your device updated, an old OS is a major security risk. If your device is already jailbroken, however, it would be wise to delay this update until there is a clear jailbreak available for the most recent OS – upgrading an iPhone from a jailbroken OS can be a confusing and sometimes risky process! It may sound like a no-brainer, but the updates always seem to come at the most inconvenient times. Do get in the habit of clicking "remind me later".Updating your device's operating system is one of the many important steps in keeping your iPhone or iPad up to date and functioning properly. Your device's operating system is its own dedicated software component. To improve the performance of your device, the operating system receives new feature updates, improvements in appearance, and bug fixes. Most importantly, the operating system is constantly being overhauled for security improvements. A device with the latest update is far less likely to fall victim to an attack by a virus, as bugs in the older software will have been patched.

2.3. Be Cautious of Suspicious Apps and Links

Similarly, links in emails, texts, and web pages should be avoided if they lead you to a URL that you are unsure of or is a shortened URL. If you were told that you would be going to the website of a familiar or popular product and the URL does not seem to match up, chances are the link is malicious. Links promising offers that seem too good to be true are often traps. Activity such as installing suspicious apps and clicking on suspicious links greatly increases your chances of your phone or data being hacked.Just as with any computer or laptop, it is important to exercise caution and use your best judgment when choosing to install and open apps and links on your iPhone or Apple device. Many hacks and viruses are successful because an iPhone user installs an app without reading the comments and reviews first. If you have never heard of the app, the best choice is to not install it. Apps with low ratings and a low number of downloads should also be avoided - occasionally new malicious apps will try and pay for good ratings, so it is best to stick with apps that have been popular and highly rated for a while. Apps that seem to have a hidden or secretive purpose (such as a calendar or note-keeping app that asks for network permissions) should also be avoided.

3. Steps to Take if Your Device is Compromised

Start with your device's Settings app. Go through your app list and remove any apps that you don't remember downloading or that seem suspicious. Also take this time to remove any old or unnecessary apps. You can determine the space an app is using by its size. Apps with large or multiple large associated files can slow down your device. If you have an app that seems suspicious but you aren't sure, a good indicator is to check the reviews on similar apps in the app store. While you are doing this, check through your device's files and remove any unfamiliar or suspicious files. After removing these files, clear your recently deleted items to ensure they are gone.Enable two-factor authentication on your Apple ID. This is an extra layer of security for your Apple ID. It ensures that you're the only person who can access your account, even if someone knows your password. After you enable this service, you will have to verify your identity using one of your devices or your phone number when you sign in to a new device or browser. This feature significantly reduces the chance of someone accessing your account, even if they have your password.Change your passwords, and make them long and strong. That means using at least 12 characters that include numbers, letters, and special symbols. Use a different password for each of your important accounts, like your email and online banking. Keep these passwords in a safe place, so that you can reference them later. Also consider using a password manager. By creating a strong password and using a password manager, you are taking an important step to enhance your online security.

3.1. Change Your Passwords

If you are suspicious that your device has or had access by a hacker, it is crucial you change your passwords. This could prevent further damage being commenced to you or your device. Depending on what accounts you suspect may have been compromised, you may want to change every password you have. Not only on your Apple devices, but on any accounts that may be accessed using the device. Be sure to use a different and complex password for each account. This may be difficult to remember each password, but it is more difficult for a hacker to access an account if you have a completely different password. Changing your Apple ID password may log you out of a few apps and on web browsers where you have used your Apple ID. This typically occurs for any apps or internet browsers where you selected to save your password previously. This usually concerns users, causing them to use the same or a similar password so they do not forget what it is. Try to visit those places where you were logged out as soon as you change the password to avoid forgetting to do it later.

3.2. Enable Two-Factor Authentication

A two-factor authentication sends a personalized code to your phone when you are trying to log into your device. Only having the code sent to your personal device is an added layer of security. This code is needed to proceed logging into your device. This would prevent anyone who has gained access to your Apple ID from logging in immediately. Gaining access to your Apple ID is one way an attacker might try to install monitoring apps like mSpy. With access to your Apple ID, they can enable iCloud backup and sync services for the monitored device. This allows another device synced to the Apple ID to see iMessages, call history, GPS locations, and much more. This might go unnoticed until messages are checked against the monitored device and something seems out of place. TFA would prevent access to any newly enabled services on your iCloud account by denying again that code sent to your phone.

3.3. Remove Suspicious Apps or Files

To uninstall an app, navigate to the home screen of your device and tap and hold on to any app icons. When the icons start to jiggle, you can press the X mark on the icon that you want to delete. This can also be done on an iPad by holding the icon. This will prompt you as to whether you want to delete the app. Upon uninstalling an app, the app's data may still be left on the device and this can be deleted by going to Settings -> General -> Storage Usage, tapping on 'Manage Storage' and then selecting the app that has data you would like to delete.Conduct a search for any suspicious applications or files. If you are unfamiliar with an app or it does not have any reviews/headlines, then it may be a cause for concern. Check to see what personal information such apps have access to; if they request access to SMS, voicemail, camera or photo library, then it may be a malicious app. Determine whether you think this app is official or not. In relation to files, look into the name of the file and see if you can recall downloading/saving it. If you feel that the file is out of place, then delete it. Remember to always empty your Recently Deleted folder for photos to ensure that the files are gone from the device. If you have jailbroken your device, the chances are much higher that you have a malicious piece of software. Due to the nature of jailbreaking, any security features that the phone once had will be compromised in order to give you root access. This means that the authors of malicious software will often target jailbroken devices as the malware is more likely to succeed in its objectives.

3.4. Contact Apple Support for Assistance

To directly contact Apple support, you can go to their website and fill out a form to request a phone call from a support representative, or you can schedule a callback time. There will usually be a 1-2 minute wait time until you get a call, as your request is immediately forwarded to the next available support agent. If you'd prefer to have a text-based conversation, you can usually request email support instead of a phone call. During your conversation, you can request for a transcript of the chat to be emailed to you. This may be beneficial if you need to frequently reference the provided information.Before directly contacting Apple, it's recommended to first visit a local Apple store if possible. They may be able to provide an even better understanding of your issue, and being able to physically interact with the phone could provide a higher chance of issue recognition. Be sure to book an appointment on Apple's website if you're planning to visit a store, as unscheduled visitors may sometimes be turned away.If you suspect your Apple device is compromised, the worst possible thing you can do is to reach out to unprofessional hackers and scammers in an attempt to get the issue fixed. Your best chances of fully understanding the problem, and finding the most suitable fix, is by contacting Apple's technical support service. Though speaking to Apple employees won't guarantee a fix for your issue, it's a safe option and is worth an attempt.