As the world becomes increasingly digital, the level of risk involved in everyday activities increases. The digital theft of personal data is becoming a problem that poses greater risks than physical theft. It appears that no matter the measures taken by individuals to protect their digital lives, attackers have been able to breach security measures established by major corporations. In such cases, the victims feel powerless, as there is often no direct way to track the theft or even prevent it in the first place.
Just recently, it has come to light that individuals are specifically targeting iPhone owners with a new type of digital theft. According to The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern and Nicole Nguyen’s in-depth report, these thieves are now able to essentially “steal your entire digital life”.
These criminals target their victims by spying on the individual’s iPhone passcode when out socializing at bars and public places at night. In some cases, the iPhones are literally grabbed from the owner’s hand and in other situations the owner is physically assaulted and intimidated.
Once thieves possess the passcode, they can easily reset the victim’s Apple ID password in Settings in order to gain access to the device and its data. They can also turn off Find My iPhone, preventing the device’s owner from tracking its location or remotely erasing the device’s content via iCloud. Even worse, these criminals can change the contact information associated with the victim’s Apple ID and even set up a recovery key to prevent the victim from recovering the account.
With the victim’s Apple ID in hand, the criminals can access banking apps or even use Apple Pay to pay for items using passwords stored in iCloud Keychain. In some cases, they have even opened an Apple Card with having only the victim’s last four digits of their Social Security number stored in photos on the device.
The threat of stealing one’s digital life can seem so farfetched that some may not even consider it could happen to them. Although Apple should step up and increase the security of its products, as stated in the report, it is ultimately up to individual users to protect their own data.
It is now more important than ever for iPhone users to be aware of their surroundings, especially when out and about or in a public setting. Even when using Face ID or Touch ID to access the device, remember that there are still security measures that can be bypassed. Utilizing a secure, alphanumeric passcode is the best way to protect the device and its data.
What is also of great value is for users to take advantage of the various password saving, encryption and auto-lock settings that iPhones and other devices have in place. Storing passwords in password managers like 1Password is a great way to keep user accounts secure against theft.
At this point, it’s important to remember that Apple is aware of the issue and sympathizes with users who have had their digital life stolen. The company ensures that “security researchers agree that iPhone is the most secure consumer mobile device, and we work tirelessly every day to protect all our users from new and emerging threats”. Hopefully with Apple continuing to advance the protections to help keep user accounts secure, we will progress towards an environment where digital thefts become a thing of the past.