iPhones are considered extremely secure devices but hackers still find ways to target them. This article discusses whether or not iPhones can be cloned without you noticing: is it possible for an iPhone to be cloned remotely? If so, how do you keep your iPhone from being cloned?
Assuming the iPhone is password-protected, the risk of cloning depends on the iPhone model and whether it is jailbroken. Older iPhone versions may be remotely cloned relatively easily while newer models (5S onwards) with discrete encryption chips have very little risk of remote cloning.
Let’s dig deeper into remote cloning for an iPhone and look at how to keep your iPhone secure.
Can my iPhone be accessed remotely?
Apple doesn’t allow anyone to access your iPhone remotely through the apps – e.g. TeamViewer. This means no one can access and control your iPhone remotely without first jailbreaking it.
There are some VNC servers that allow jailbreaking iPhones to enable remote access functionality, but stock iOS still does not allow it without the owner’s permission.
Apple has a strong permission system and every app requires explicit permission to use any information and service.
Every new app you install is required to ask for permissions, e.g. to access the camera, location, etc. Apps can’t access any information without user permission. As a result, no app can remotely access your phone without your consent.
Can a hacker clone my iPhone remotely if they had previous physical access?
No one can clone your iPhone remotely even if they had previous physical access to it. Cloning an iPhone requires physical access at all times, so there’s no way a hacker can clone your iPhone remotely.
One thing worth mentioning here is that, although cloning an iPhone remotely is impossible, hackers can still steal sensitive information through social engineering attacks – where the hackers trick a user into downloading a shady app which in reality is malware with a backdoor.
That’s why you should use some precautionary security measures such as:
- Regularly change your phone PINs
- Check and delete any suspicious app which might have been downloaded
- Always update your phone to the latest iOS version
Important iPhone safety tips:
- Never allow anyone to use your phone without your permission, and only in your presence
- Never allow anyone full access to your phone or give them security codes or PINs
- Never keep your phone jailbroken all the time.
Can a hacker clone my iPhone remotely with proprietary knowledge?
As mentioned above, cloning an iPhone remotely is impossible even if the hacker somehow figures out your PIN code or any other password e.g. through a phishing attack.
This is because all cloning apps require physical access during the cloning process in order to work, and this can’t be done remotely.
Can someone clone my iPhone without me knowing?
Every app you install requires specific permissions from the owner in order to work, and cannot work without your consent. That’s why cloning the SIM and the phone information is almost impossible without you knowing.
However, it’s worth noting that iPhone models before 5s can be cloned if the hackers somehow manage to obtain your PIN. The reason is that discrete encryption chips that prevent cloning and hacking were not introduced in the iPhone models before 5S.
Can someone gain access to an iPhone with only physical access and no pin/password/fingerprint?
If we are talking about the iPhone models from 5S onwards, the answer is no. The passwords, keys, and pins are stored in a high-security chip that is tamper-resistant. It is almost impossible to brute-force the owner’s passwords in recent iPhone models, which comes with reinforced security.
Again, with older models of the iPhone, there always exists a chance that a hacker might bypass security restrictions and clone your phone. But even so, the hacker will still need to somehow figure out the PIN to get in.
Can I detect that my iPhone has been cloned?
Telling whether your iPhone was cloned is not easy, but here are a few clues:
- Getting travel related call from your carrier
- Getting many SMS or calls from unfamiliar numbers
- Receiving more than usual abandoned calls and wrong numbers
- Voicemails disappearing and having difficulties in accessing them
- Noticing increased or unusual call activity on your bill
- Sudden error in cellular connection and making calls – usually happens when a SIM card duplicate is made and kept in another phone
You can check a couple of more things to detect whether your iPhone is cloned.
Check Find My iPhone
Go to icloud.com/find, enter your Apple ID, and check where your phone is. It will not exactly tell you if your phone has been cloned or not, but will give you a clue if your phone is used and cloned in any other country.
Make sure to enable your phone location before checking ‘Find My iPhone’.
Check phone carrier logs
Check your text and call logs from your carrier online, that might alert you on any suspicious activity like your phone numbers that you didn’t actually dial.
Also, if you find anything suspicious, you can request an updated text and call activity log from your carrier. You can also request a new SIM card.
How to protect iPhone from being cloned remotely?
The best and most effective solution for preventing your phone from being cloned is to never let it be used by anyone and never let it out of your reach and sight.
In order to clone a phone, one needs to get their hands on the phone physically to download a cloning app or pull off the hardware identifiers.
Steps to protect your phone from cloning:
- Secure your phone with a biometric lock and PIN
- When not in use, turn off WiFi and Bluetooth
- Avoid jailbreaking your iPhone and installing unauthorized applications
- Clear the cookies, browsing history, and cache from your phone regularly
- Use applications like Avast antivirus or Lookout Mobile Security.
- Don’t browse to websites that are not SSL protected
- Update the iPhone software often
- Use a 2-step authentication security method to ensure you are the only one using the iPhone
- Always choose a strong password with a combination of upper and lower case letters, symbols, and numbers
What to do if my iPhone has been cloned?
Although the possibility of your iPhone being cloned is next to impossible, if you still feel your phone has been cloned, you can take the following steps:
Protect your iPhone data
The first thing you need to do once you have detected that your phone is cloned is to protect yourself, your precious data, and the finances that you handle from your phone.
- If you ever feel that the security of your phone was cloned, immediately set up a new phone password.
- Create new PINs and passwords for each website, accounts, and banking apps that you use through your phone.
- If possible, reset your iPhone to factory settings to wipe out any malware
Report the phone cloning
Once you are sure that your phone was cloned, contact the local authorities and your phone provider.
On the FBI website, go to ‘Tips and Public Leads in the Reporting Crime’ to report a phone cloning crime. It is essential to do this step so the authorities can investigate and follow up on your provided information.