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When the bad guys steal your Apple ID: what to do and how to prevent it

When you Apple ID is compromised, everything of yours that is linked to it is at stake. Picture by Lians Jadan/UnSplash

When you Apple ID is compromised, everything of yours that is linked to it is at stake. Picture by Lians Jadan/UnSplash

Published Jun 2, 2022

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It’s everyone’s nightmare. Your Apple ID is hacked and the scammer has access to all your information, including your banking details.

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Some locals have had their bank accounts wiped clean, others have had to get a completely new Apple ID, losing access to whatever was linked to the old ID.

It is devastating and often, after the fact, there is not too much it seems you can do when a baddie has kicked you off your own Apple ID with a new email you don’t have access to, except to go and report it to Apple store and the police, and of course get your bank to put a stop on your cards.

Given this and as more and more people become wary of the risks faced by cyber security, so too has the consideration around protecting your Apple ID risen.

While many people may have had their Apple ID or other information leaked before, hacking an account linked to various devices may not be the easiest task, but it requires human intervention.

This means that it is very unlikely that an Apple ID could be hacked without the owner willing or unwillingly sharing their login information.

Despite the fact that Apple’s staunch security protocols embed within its products, in 2014, an iCloud hack, dubbed the 'Fappening', which exposed nude photographs of celebrities, took place.

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Coincidently, in 2017 another iCloud hack, opportunistically named 'The Fappening 2', took place again, exposing private images of celebrities.

However, today photographs aren't the only data stored on our smartphones and other digital devices. Today, smartphones are a gateway to our home and private life, especially our financial information, for those who transact using their devices.

Hence, it is of paramount significance that precautions are practised around securing your smartphone and the data that lives within it.

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While it is not as easy as it previously was to access someone else's smartphone, it is also important to know the steps if your iPhone is stolen or becomes lost.

HOW TO SPOT A SCAM

According to Apple, an Apple ID could be compromised if you receive a notification from Apple for a specific change to your account that you did not make. The same goes for other brands of devices, such as Android, through which Google notifies users of suspicious logins.

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Despite this, given previous attacks on iCloud and the vulnerability of your iPhone becoming compromised, here are things Apple suggest that users look out for to spot a scam:

1. You receive an email or notification that your Apple ID was used to sign in to a device you don't recognise or did not sign in to recently (for example, "Your Apple ID was used to sign in to iCloud on a Windows PC").

2. You receive a confirmation email from Apple that your Apple ID password was changed or your account information was updated, but you don't remember making any changes.

3. Your device was locked or placed in Lost Mode by someone else.

4. You see messages you didn't send or items you didn't delete.

5. You see charges or notices for purchases that you didn't make. Learn what to do if you see an unfamiliar iTunes Store or App Store charge on your credit or debit card statement.

6.Your password no longer works, or it might have been changed or locked.

7.You don't recognise some or all of your account details.

If you received an email, text message or phone call that you're not sure is valid or you think might be phishing, here are some tips to help determine its legitimacy.

Reassessing your Apple ID after it has been compromised:

Sign in to your Apple ID account page. If you can't sign in or receive a message that the account is locked when you try to sign in, try to reset or unlock your account.

Change your Apple ID password and choose a strong password.

Review all the personal and security information in your account. Update any information that isn't correct or that you don't recognise, including:

* Your name.

* Your primary Apple ID email address.

* If you need to change your email address, update the features and services you use with Apple ID so that each one uses your updated Apple ID.

* All alternate email addresses, rescue email addresses, and phone numbers.

* The devices associated with your Apple ID, if you've already set up two-factor authentication.

* Security questions and answers. If you think they might be easy to guess, you should change your security questions.

* Check with your email address provider to make sure that you control every email address associated with your Apple ID. Suppose you don't control the email addresses associated with the Apple ID. In that case, you should change the password for the email address or use a different email address.

* Set up two-factor authentication for your Apple ID. This additional security feature is designed to prevent anyone from accessing your account, even if they know your password.

THIS IS IMPORTANT

Unfortunately, even with two-factor authentication, scammers have known to get into a person’s Apple ID.

Most important, get hold of your bank immediately and put a stop on all your cards associated with your Apple ID and report what has happened.

Go to your nearest Apple store and also report a case of fraud to the police. You may very well not be able to get your Apple ID back, but you can prevent the crook from stealing any funds at least.

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