Once upon a time, all a hacker needed was a username and password to break into an iCloud account. In the years since the 2014 iCloud breach, however, Apple has sigificantly tightened their security controls.
Apple now requires nearly all iCloud users to enable two-factor authentication. That makes it nearly impossible for anyone to access an iCloud account unless they have their device on hand. Short of stealing someone’s iPhone, it is nearly impossible to get past two-factor authentication.
Apple has also severely curtailed third-party applications’ access to iCloud. A few years ago, all a spyware app needed was a username and password to download everything, from files to photos to messages and more. These apps now have very little access to iCloud data. Some can still snoop on data as it syncs. But as far as we can tell, there are no apps that can download iCloud data after it has been backed up to the cloud.
How to Tell If Your iCloud Has Been Hacked
That said, it isn’t entirely impossible for an iCloud account to be breached. If for any reason you do not have two-factor authentication enabled, for instance, it’s surprisingly easy for a hacker to break into your account. There’s a reason Apple requires this feature for all new accounts. Even with two-factor authentication enabled, it’s still possible to access your account if someone has one of your devices on hand.
Here are a few ways to tell if your iCloud account has been hacked:
- You can’t log in to your account;
- You receive a warning message from Apple;
- Your account details have been changed;
- You notice messages or other account activity you have no recollection of;
- You see transactions you have no recollection of;
- A supposed hacker tells you they’ve compromised your account.
If a hacker gets in touch with you, you may have strong reason to doubt them. For one, they’re a cybercriminal – not the most reputable sort. And, as detailed above, hacker’ ability to access iCloud data is very limited. Before agreeing to any kind of ransom, then, it might be best to dig a little deeper and maybe get in touch with Apple or the authorities.
You should also be careful with any notices you receive from Apple. Hackers love to impersonate legitimate companies when they make phishing attempts. To keep your passwords safe, navigate to iCloud directly rather than following any links you find in an email.
What to Do If Your iCloud Account Has Been Hacked
If your iCloud account has been compromised, the first thing you should do is attempt to reset your password. Provided you can access your account, you should then doublecheck your account info to make sure nothing has changed.
If you can’t access your account, you’ll have to get in touch with Apple support. Provided you can prove the account belongs to you, they will hopefully be able to help you in short order.
Once you’ve secured your account again, it’s time to make absolutely certain you have two-factor authentication enabled. Without it, all a hacker needs is your password to access your account. But with two-factor authentication enabled, it is nearly impossible for someone to break in unless they have one of your devices on hand.
Finally, if any credit cards were attached to the compromised account, you should call your bank. They might or might not encourage you to cancel the credit cards in question. Whatever they tell you, I advise you follow their recommendations.