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Hackers are coming for your Apple ID – how to protect your iPhone

Scammers are everywhere in the news these days, which oddly can seem like a relief from much worse news depending on how you look at it. Sure, COVID-19 and coronavirus are the big topics of the day, but scammers seizing upon current events have a way of attracting attention like nothing else.

And for good reason, too. Scams have been on the rise during this pandemic and billions of dollars have been lost to predatory schemes promising cures, treatments and other nonsense. Tap or click here to see red flags to look out for.

Out of all the victims scammed by these con artists, a few significant trends have emerged. Owners of Apple products, it seems, are far more likely to be attacked by phishing schemes — with Apple IDs being the biggest targets of all. Here’s what you need to know, along with what you can do to protect yourself.

Apple owners beware

A new security report from Check Point Research revealed that owners of Apple products face significantly more danger from phishing attacks than owners of other products.

According to the report, 10% of all phishing attempts were trying to get ahold of Apple IDs and passwords, trumping Netflix accounts, Yahoo accounts and even bank accounts.

This is because Apple products are typically more expensive, which means that owners of Apple ID accounts are more likely to have more funds to steal from. In fact, a recent report found that Apple IDs sell for a higher price on the Dark Web than any other non-financial account.

Most phishing attacks come via email links to fraudulent websites that trick you into entering your login credentials. These can vary in appearance, but many go as far as directly copying Apple’s own login screens to appear more convincing.

Recently, though, the use of phishing apps for cyberattacks has grown. These malicious apps will typically be third-party programs that are less popular or infrequently used, such as games and health apps.

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, however, fraudulent apps and websites may take the form of apps that claim to triage your symptoms or direct you to a testing center. Essentially, these hackers will do whatever they can to scam you of your info without concern for morality or appearances.

Fortunately, as with all phishing attacks, you can easily protect yourself by knowing what to look for.

The best offense is a good defense

The phishing schemes targeting Apple IDs aren’t all that original. Usually, they take one of the following flavors:

  • A claim that your Apple account is “locked” and that you must “confirm” it to regain access
  • A receipt for an expensive digital purchase (like a game or in-app purchase), with a link to “cancel” the charges
  • A message from “Apple Support” that claims to have detected problems with your device

The latter message combines phishing with another common scam: The tech support hotline. After grabbing your account information, these kinds of scammers will go a step further and try to bilk you out of even more money over the phone. Tap or click here to see more info on tech support scams.

As for the other ones, knowing the types of messages you’ll see in scams can help you identify them more easily. One thing to check before engaging any unknown email or link is to look at the URL or sender’s email address. If it’s not explicitly from “Apple.com” (applesupport.ru or apple.co.kp don’t count), you can ignore it.

Ultimately, the more suspicious you are of links or emails you get from unknown senders, the better. In the meantime, you can add an additional layer of security to your account by setting up two-factor authentication (2FA) for your Apple devices. This forces any login attempt to require a code that is sent to you via text message.

To set it up, open Settings >> tap [Your Name] >> tap Password and Security. Here, you’ll see an option to Turn on Two-Factor Authentication. Follow the steps that appear onscreen to finalize the setup.

While you’re setting up 2FA, you can also use your iPhone to protect other accounts via “Sign In With Apple.” Tap or click here and scroll to the bottom to find out more about Sign In With Apple and how to use it.

Knowledge is power, and just about the strongest weapon you have in your arsenal against phishing schemes and cyber-scammers. Use it wisely, and share it with others so they know the signs to look out for.

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