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Hackers Breaking Into iPhones, How to Prevent It

11:57 PM, Nov 12, 2013   |    comments
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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Your iPhone is an easy target for a new type of hacking. All a criminal needs is a USB cord to give them a hard line to your personal information.

As iPhone technology evolves, so does the way criminals work to steal your identity. Now, they're using public phone chargers to hack into your phone. Once they're inside, there's no telling what they can get their hands on.

Have you ever been desperate for a charge? So desperate that you've borrowed a charger from a stranger at a coffee shop or restaurant? That could end up costing you all of your personal information.

"There are ways for people to install apps on your iPhone, or anyone's iPhone, without going through the app store," said Billy Lau of the Georgia Tech Information Security Center.

All they need is that single cord that's meant to give your phone some juice.

Here's how it works: A hacker develops an app that looks legit. In this case, one that resembles Facebook. Then they disguise a USB charger as a normal iPhone or iPad charger but connect it to a hidden computer rather than an outlet. When you plug in your phone in to charge it, your phone and personal information could be at risk if you unlock it.

"If it's unlocked even for a second or less than a second, the attack commences," said Lau. All the hackers have to do is launch their malicious app to take remote control to see everything you do, passwords and all. They can even make calls and eavesdrop on yours. "The possiblity is really endless," said Lau. "It can steal your banking credentials."

The simple solution? Don't unlock your phone while it's charging. Apple is working to prevent this. The company now warns you about plugging into unknown USB public charging stations. An action that could nip iPhone invaders in the USB bud.

And, if you absolutely need to use a public charger, make sure you can see the outlet it's plugged into. If you can't see where it's connected, don't use it.

You might also want to consider cleaning out the clutter. Delete any apps you don't use anymore. Many of those apps could hold onto your personal information.


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