What’s the Worst Thing Someone Can Do With Your Unlocked iPhone?

home screen of the iPhone XDedi Grigoroiu / Shutterstock.com

We use our phones to event tickets, reservations, insurance cards, and even driver's license. But what happens when someone leaves your iPhone unlocked for a moment – what are the risks? What is the worst thing that someone can do?

This is also relevant at international borders, where your unlocked phone could be removed, hopefully temporarily.

Financial information and passwords are secure

A face recognition prompt for an online banking application on an iPhone.

Letting your iPhone disappear for a moment is not as risky as it seems. If you have an online bank or other financial app on your iPhone, the person who has your phone may not be able to open it. Most of these apps use a face ID, a touch ID, or even a PIN to authenticate you. A person with access to your unlocked phone can not unlock your banking application – not without pointing it to your face to authenticate you with at least the facial identity.

Many other sensitive applications are also secured with additional protection. Someone with your phone can not buy any apps on the App Store password management applications like LastPass and 1Password.

Your emails, SMS and photos could be monitored

If your phone is not visible, it's very easy for someone who has it to view your notifications, photos, text messages and anything else you can support. Everything you can access with your unlocked phone is accessible to them – and that's a lot.

They could even open Messages, Mail or Facebook and send messages as you. Someone who takes care of it can post an offensive message on social media or send an insulting email to your boss. They can access your web browser, view your browsing history, and use any Web site you are connected to. All bets are open.

In fact, someone with access to your phone can even send an email or send some of your photos or other messages.

In theory, someone with access to your phone could also use SMS message verification to access any of your accounts. They could reset your account password, use an email or SMS to get a code, and then try to provide a new password.

They can not install software

Face ID for installing an application on an iPhone XR.

Anyone with your unlocked iPhone can not install software even if your iPhone is unlocked. You must authenticate with Face ID or Touch ID to install a new application.

Configuration profiles, which are meant for organizations and allow someone to force settings such as a VPN on the iPhone, can not be installed without a PIN either.

So how dangerous is it?

Someone with access to your phone can not install software, open banking applications to perform financial transactions, or monitor passwords stored in your password manager. It's a relief.

It's important – unlike a PC, you can not install software that is hiding in the background and spying on you.

However, the person can view your data at that time, check your photos, read your messages and check your emails. They can do what they want with your web browser and most applications on your system. It's not great.

If you want to know if anyone has played with your phone, you can open the application switch immediately after you have recovered your phone. Slide your finger up from the bottom of the screen (on an iPhone X or newer) or double-click the Home button (on an iPhone 8 or older). The most recently used applications are displayed. Unless the person closes the apps after using them, which is unlikely.

IPhone application selector.

How to lock someone on a single application

Although leaving your iPhone unlocked with someone else 's is not as dangerous as it might be, it' s still not a good idea to give someone something to worry about. 39 – A – Whether he is a ticket buyer at an event or a child of your home – access to all of your unlocked phone.

You can make things safer by using "Guided Access", which allows you to quickly lock your iPhone to a single app. Set up this feature in advance and you can quickly put an iPhone in "guided access" mode. This restricts the application to a single application until you enter your PIN.

RELATED: How to share your iPhone without people wandering around

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