We use our phones for event tickets, reservations, insurance cards and even driver's licenses. But what happens if someone takes their unlocked iPhone out of sight for a moment ̵
This is also important at international borders where your unlocked phone can – hopefully temporarily – be taken away from you.
Financial details and passwords are secure.
It's not that risky to lose sight of your iPhone for a moment, it seems. If you have an online banking or other financial app on your iPhone, the person with your phone probably will not be able to open it. Most of these apps use Face ID, Touch ID, or even a PIN to authenticate you. Someone with access to your unlocked phone will not be able to unlock your banking app – at least not without directing it to Face ID authentication.
Many other confidential apps are provided with such additional protection. Someone with your phone can not buy apps on the App Store in password manager apps like LastPass and 1Password.
Your emails, sms and photos could be sniffed.
If your phone is not in your view, this is trivial For someone to see your notifications, photos, text messages, and anything else you can touch. Anything you can access with your phone unlocked can be accessed – and that's a lot.
You can even open messages, emails, or Facebook and send messages like yourself. Someone who has it for you could post an offensive message on social media or send your boss an insulting email. You can access your web browser, view your browsing history, and use any website you're signed in to. All bets are disabled here.
In fact, someone with access to your phone could even e-mail or send some of your photos or other messages.
Theoretically, someone with access to your phone could use SMS messaging. You also get access to one of your accounts. You could reset the password for your account, use an e-mail or SMS to retrieve a code, and then try to enter a new password.
You can not install any software.
Someone with your unlocked iPhone can not install software even if your iPhone is unlocked. You must authenticate yourself with the face ID or Touch ID to install a new app.
Configuration profiles designed for organizations that allow someone to enforce settings such as a VPN on their iPhone can not be installed without a PIN.
How dangerous is it?
Someone with access to your phone can not install software, open banking apps to conduct financial transactions, or search the saved passwords in your password manager. That's a relief.
That's important – unlike a PC, no one can install software that lies in the background and spies on you.
At that moment, however, the person can search your data and review your photos, read your messages, and search your emails. You can do whatever you want with your web browser and most apps on your system. That's not so great.
If you're worried about someone messing around with your phone, you may want to open the app toggle immediately after you get your phone back. Just swipe up from the bottom of the screen (on an iPhone X or later) or double-click the Home button (on an iPhone 8 or earlier). You see the most recently used apps – unless the person closed the apps after closing. This is unlikely.
How to lock someone up for a single app.
If you leave your unlocked iPhone with someone else, this is not as dangerous as it might be. It's still not a good idea to access someone, be it a ticket taker at an event or a kid in your home To grant your entire unlocked phone.
You can increase security by using Guided Access. So you can quickly bind your iPhone to a single app. Set this feature in advance and you can quickly put an iPhone in "Guided Access" mode. This restricts it to a single app until you enter your PIN.
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