SOS! My Apple Device Was Hacked! How Is That Possible and What Should I Do Now?

Can we justify people who hack the devices of others? Why do people need to spy on their kids, friends and beloved ones from time to time? Before discussing the cons of surveillance apps for Mac, let’s have a look at several reasons to justify this type of software:

  • Preventing kids from filthy content;
  • Taking care of aged people on distance;
  • Remotely controlling kid’s after-class activities and location;
  • Avoiding dangerous situations;
  • Making sure your spouse does not cheat on you;
  • Monitoring employees to keep company’s confidential information safe.
hacked apple devices

Those are all reasonable factors, but most people would still call playing with spy apps an unethical and immoral decision. Most probably, you read this article as you suspect that someone has penetrated into your Apple computer. Right, it’s hard to sleep well being paranoid. Yet, you still have reasons for that paranoia as it was proved millions of times that a user could really hack one’s device without this person knowing. Do not hurry to panic and block all your accounts – you still may solve this problem, but a route might be long and thorny unless you are an experienced Mac owner who knows how to work with the Terminal app.

Good and Bad News

detect your iPhone

As technologies keep on progressing, more and more advanced apps appear. Apple developers love creating new exciting solutions, but sometimes they can be rather dangerous for one of the parties. While some of them are helpful, others, unfortunately, may be completely useless or even harmful. You have probably heard of the spying software for Android. It is much easier to hack Windows or Android devices than Apple computers and phones. However, it doesn’t mean that hacking Apple devices is impossible. You should be aware of various approaches to spying on Macs and iPhones if you want to ensure your security. Experienced Apple users offer a short guide on how to detect whether your iPhone was compromised. In the last section of this article, you will learn how to find out whether your Mac was hacked.

The good news is that it is impossible to hack any iOS device or Apple computer without accessing it at least once. It means a potential victim should give his or her device to the intruder. While the person turns away or leaves the device for some time, the spy should make corresponding changes to its settings. He or she has to circumvent Apple’s limitations and security measures, exposing the target device to safety holes and software incompatibility during the process. Besides, in most cases, it is important to set up a special spying software to let it reflect the entire information from the target device.

A less tricky way one can spy on another with the help of Apple computer or iOS device is a web camera. Not many users cover it to take care of their privacy. While you may be asked to keep it on in the workplace, there is no need to leave it turned on at home. If you want to know how to keep your Mac from spying on you, keep on reading the next section.

Spying on Mac with Built-in Web Camera

Without your consent, one can access your Mac’s native web camera. Perhaps, it is even worse than reading your messages or else: the intruder may watch your every action in real time!

Special malware may use user’s webcam against him, so it may do much more harm than simply irritating you with spam. Some experienced Mac owners may still remember the nasty malware called Eleanor and BlackHole RAT that served as the camera spies.

spy camera on mac

What Can I Do about My Mac’s Web Camera?

Well, luckily, a Mac owner can easily protect his or her private line from curious watchers by covering the computer’s web camera. This way, even the smartest guys or malware will spy on you. It is as simple as a sticky note.

Some advanced Mac users even recommend refusing to use the camera at all. But what about the users that love using FaceTime regularly? Perhaps, a sliding webcam cover may help! Just make sure it doesn’t harm the aluminum surface of your MacBook.

You may also wonder about the microphone. Sometimes, your voice alone is enough to compromise you. On the one hand, you cannot totally mute the microphone. On the other hand, the practice proves that a piece of electrical tape muffles sounds sufficiently, so the intruder will barely understand a word. Thus, covering microphone is not that necessary, taking into account how difficult this procedure may be. Alternatively, a good antivirus or firewall is the best solution for those who do not wish to over their cameras or microphones.

Legal and Ethical Aspects: Two Sides of One Coin

How comes snooping on your exes, bosses, friends, enemies, and family members with the help of surveillance software for Apple devices can be legal? Well, initially such software was designed to take care of kids. You may ethically justify the practice in your head if you plan to use spying tools to protect or help your family. Organizations also have the right to spy on their employees’ office devices (but not personal ones!).

So, it is okay to apply surveillance software upon the agreement of the other side. However, it does not sound ethical to spy on boyfriends/girlfriends, spouses, friends, and colleagues without their acknowledgment. Anyway, it is not necessarily illegal: it depends on the case. Thus, you cannot be sure no one spies on you.

As a rule, spy apps are marketed in a rather broad variety of ways, and, as a result, they attract many Mac owners. Most of such tools can:

  • Track person’s location;
  • Read text messages;
  • Review phone calls & contacts;
  • Block content;
  • Control camera.

Doing any of the mentioned violates the privacy of a victim. These features are a massive breach of privacy or a product of dishonest marketing.

You should know that no surveillance app can do everything it promises without voiding the target device’s warranty. It means you harm the devices of your close people by installing such software. Not to mention the trust issue. Thus, think twice whether the game is worth that onion is worth peeling.

As you know, Apple company has a hardline approach to security. It is not meant to run third-party applications even though you can do that. Using spying tools has certain risks, and it does not always bring the expected results. Doing so violates an AppleCare after-service guarantee.

Can I Detect a Nasty Little Spy?

detecting a surveillance app

Detecting a surveillance app as well as the intruder who installed it on your device is quite hard. The software like that is meant to be invisible. In case you detect any sort of spyware on your Mac, follow the instructions posted at the Apple forum to eliminate it.

The recommended steps constitute a diagnostic test designed to check whether someone has hacked your Mac, so it is not a solution. Mind that it may be not a hacker who ruins your operating system and hardware. Perhaps, you are just running out of memory, and that is why certain problems like sudden freezing happen.

The test we offer will assist in defining the installed modifications that might decrease the computer’s performance. The guide below helps to enter some UNIX shell commands. Make sure t type everything the way it appears (copy-paste the commands to avoid problems). Otherwise, you may harm the system.

Several commands may line-wrap or scroll in the preferred browser, but every command is a single line. Make sure to log into your admin’s account to make the necessary changes. Here is what a Mac owner should do to discover if someone is possibly spying on him:

  • Pick Finder to choose Go and Utilities then. You may also get to Utilities with the help of LaunchPad. What you need in both cases is your Terminal tool. Finally, it is possible to launch one by typing the first letters into a Spotlight search.
  • Make sure a line that shows up in the popped-up window ends up with a dollar sign. In case you can see a percentage symbol, type “sh” and push the Return key.
  • Triple-click, the line of the offered command, to choose it:

kextstat -kl | awk ‘!/com\.apple/{printf “%s %s\n”, $6, $7}’

Cut-and-paste the highlighted line to the Clipboard. Press Command and C buttons. Click anywhere in Terminal to add the command with the help of Command and V. omit the last line with the dollar sign in the end.

  • Repeat this one:

sudo launchctl list | sed 1d | awk ‘!/0x|com\.(apple|openssh|vix)|edu\.mit|org\.(amavis|apache|cups|isc|ntp|postfix|x)/{print $3}’

Now, it is time to enter the login details. You will have to enter it blindly – are you ready for this challenger?

spying on iphone
  • Next, insert the following:

launchctl list | sed 1d | awk ‘!/0x|com\.apple|edu\.mit|org\.(x|openbsd)/{print $3}’

  • Insert this line now:

ls -1A /e*/mach* {,/}L*/{Ad,Compon,Ex,Fram,In,Keyb,La,Mail/Bu,P*P,Priv,Qu,Scripti,Servi,Spo,Sta}* L*/Fonts 2> /dev/null

  • Enter this command:

osascript -e ‘tell application “System Events” to get name of every login item’ 2> /dev/null

Keep in mind that the first five stages are all copy-&-paste. You will have to enter only a passcode. Do not forget to save the output as a text file! Shut down the Terminal window once done.

The given procedure will help define which modifications were installed on Mac, intentionally or not. By such modification, we mean any app that has an impact on the way other applications function (it is usually a bad impact). So, if you see any third-party system changes, those could be the spies. It is better to get rid of them in a way you usually uninstall apps. To erase the pesky apps, launch Applications, find the target software and drag it to the Trash bin. Empty Trash afterward.

Preventive Measures

These steps will prevent you from facing troubles with spying software.

  • First, make sure the target Apple device is updated to the latest released version of operating system. In case of Mac, for instance, it should be macOS High Sierra or at least macOS Sierra. The recent updates have a certain level of protection against the spying tools.
  • Another thing to do is to check what exactly is running on your iOS devices or Mac. It is better to get any third-party apps only from the legitimate places (e.g., the App Store). This way, you will avoid potential malware and adware that may act as some hackers.
  • In some cases, it may be the fault of bots rather than real people. The spying code could make its way to the target device via the preferred web browser. Just make sure you keep away from suspicious websites.
  • Finally, it is better to use Safari – Apple’s native browser to avoid such issues. Other browsers, especially Google Chrome, might be risky and even harmful to the Apple devices.

Well, that is basically it. Do not forget to take care of your web camera as well not to let it spy on your Mac. As for the spying software (no matter, is it you who uses it or your close one uses it to keep track of your activity) – think twice: perhaps, all you have to do is sit and talk to your close people to get the answers to the most disturbing questions. It is better to avoid playing with third-party surveillance apps if you wish to keep your Apple devices safe and healthy!