How to check if your phone is hacked, and what to do if it is

Dawna Roberts

Oct 26, 20235 min read

Although Apple’s iOS system is built for privacy and security, any device, system, and network can be hacked — even an iPhone. As alarming as that sounds, don’t worry. There are ways to tell if your phone is hacked. And even if it is, it’s not the end of the world. In this guide, we’ll outline the signs of a hacked iPhone, how to check if your phone is hacked, and what to do about it. 

How to tell if your iPhone is hacked: 5 common signs

The last thing you want to believe is that some stranger has hacked your iPhone and is spying on your texts, emails, and phone calls. An even worse thought is that they are using a key logger to steal your passwords and access your private accounts. 

Unfortunately, an iPhone can be hacked when it is used on insecure Wi-Fi networks or through man-in-the-middle attacks. Other ways hackers can get inside your iPhone are through social engineering or if you make a mistake as simple as downloading and installing an unsafe app. 

If you’ve ever wondered, “Is my iPhone compromised?” use the signs below to check.

1. Battery life and performance drop

Is your iPhone not running well? If your phone is taking longer than usual for an app to open or close, or your battery is draining fast, it could indicate that your iPhone has been hacked. If the iPhone starts overheating, it could be a sign that a nefarious program is running in the background. 

2. Contacts say you are spamming them

If your friends and colleagues complain that you are sending them messages or spam you know nothing about, your iPhone might be hacked. Check your record of sent messages.  

3. Messages sent

If, upon checking your record of sent messages on your iPhone, you discover messages that you did not send, it may indicate that someone else has control over your device. The same may be true of outgoing calls. 

An image of a hacker at work.
Source: Unsplash

4. Higher-than-normal device usage

If your data plan shows higher-than-normal usage and you haven’t been using your iPhone any more than usual, it’s possible that your phone has been hacked and is being used by an intruder. 

5. Unrecognized apps and pop-ups

Are you finding apps on your phone that you didn’t install? Are you seeing pop-ups when you use the browser? Either of these scenarios could indicate that someone else has been playing around with your device. 

How to know if your phone is hacked: Check these codes

Using the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) system, you can use special codes and receive information from the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM). These codes can help you determine if your iPhone has been compromised.

1. Redirection code 

If you aren’t getting calls and texts from your contacts, they could be getting redirected to another location. You can check this by typing in: *#062# on your phone’s keypad and tapping the Send button. The resulting phone number is where all your calls and texts are being directed — or redirected.

2. Redirected missed calls code

If someone has hacked your iPhone, they could be forwarding your missed or busy calls to another number. To check on this, dial *#61#. If this leads you to discover that your calls are being forwarded without your permission, you can turn that feature off by dialing ##61#.

3. Calls being tracked code

If you fear that someone may be tracking your iPhone, you can quickly check by dialing *#21#. If you see a number you don’t recognize, change it by dialing *#21#.

4. Reset forwarding settings code

The code ##002# is a universal reset for turning off forwarding and erasing any forwarded messages, calls, and data. It also resets all the forwarding settings on your iPhone. 

5. Complete reset code

If you suspect that your iPhone is hacked, you can perform a factory reset by using code *2767*3855#. This will restore all original settings and wipe out all the data and apps on your phone. Just be sure to back up your data first. 

My iPhone is hacked: What do I do?

Although it’s not a great feeling to discover that your iPhone is hacked, don’t fret. Follow the tips below to fix the problem and move on. 

1. Install and run antimalware

Install and run a trusted antivirus/antimalware software to scan your phone for issues. If it finds any, you can automatically clean it up. You may have to factory reset your phone to undo all the damage.

2. Change all your passwords

If a hacker has gained access to your phone, you should immediately change all your passwords (from a computer, not from the infected device). 

3. Delete suspicious apps

It may help to delete any unwanted/suspicious apps you find on your phone, especially if you did not install them. That said, skilled cybercriminals can hide malicious software where you won’t find it.

4. Factory reset your iPhone

To clean up everything at once, you can perform a full factory reset of your iPhone. To do this, navigate to Settings > General > Transfer or Reset iPhone > Erase All Content and Settings. Then tap Continue to factory reset your phone. You can restore your iPhone from a recent backup to avoid losing any of your data. 

5. Change your cybersecurity habits

Moving forward, you should bolster your cybersecurity habits to avoid any further intrusions. Here are some tips to help you stay safe: 

  • Never click links in suspicious emails.
  • Do not install anything on your iPhone except verified apps through the App Store.
  • Keep a close eye on all your passwords. 
  • Use long, strong passwords, and do not share them with others. 
  • Never use the same password on multiple websites. 
  • Never connect to an unsecured Wi-Fi network (like a coffee shop or hotel) without a VPN to keep intruders out. 

iPhone users must be diligent when it comes to keeping their devices safe. Monitor your phone for any strange activity or performance issues. Overall, if you notice anything odd, it’s best to immediately perform a factory reset on your phone, change your passwords, and turn on encryption for an added layer of security. 

This is an independent publication, and it has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Apple Inc. iPhone and iOS are trademarks of Apple Inc.

Dawna Roberts Dawna Roberts
Dawna has spent her entire career in web dev, cybersecurity, and IT. Her work has been featured on Forbes, Adobe, Airtable, Backblaze, Cyberleaf, Lifewire, and other online publications for the past ten years.