iPhone Passcodes Become an Opening to Steal One's Digital Life

March 3, 2023

Dr. Adam Aviv

Dr. Adam Aviv, Associate Professor of Computer Science at GW, was quoted in a recent article by The Wall Street Journal. Aviv conducts research on mobile authentication and how users select PINs/passcodes on their phone. This article details the danger of someone learning your phone’s passcode as this basic iPhone feature is becoming a way criminals may gain access to your money and data to steal one’s entire digital life. 

Once unlocked, criminals can change the password of the iPhone owner’s Apple ID using the passcode; this was a convenient feature created for forgetful customers that has turned into an easy way for criminals to lock you out of your account. Criminals are often able to loot the phone’s financial apps as well since the passcode can unlock access to all of the device’s stored passwords. The Wall Street Journal interviewed a number of recent victims who all said their iPhones were stolen while they were out at night socializing.

“It was only a matter of time before an attacker would use shoulder surfing or social engineering,” said Aviv. Relying on a phone as a trusted device fails in such cases, he added.

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