FBI Can't Find Anything on Your iPhone, Even with $900,000 or More

The world was shocked to learn that the FBI had paid out $900,000 to a private hacking company to unlock the San Bernadino terror suspect’s iPhone. There had been lots of debate in the press and around dinner tables across the globe on the ethics of Apple allowing security services access to user data, but the final monetary figure that was paid left many shocked. It still remains a mystery exactly who cracked through to access the information on the phone and how it was done, but the figure paid for it was accidentally leaked during an interview. And, phew! What a figure it was.

Apple iPhones are generally considered more secure than their Android counterparts, in the same way that Apple laptops are considered more secure than Windows ones. But, there’s lots of ways in which your data can be breached.

How can data on your iPhone be accessed by others?


Your iPhone may have turned on the setting to automatically back itself up to the iCloud. This is handy should your phone be damaged, lost or stolen, as you can simply re-download your information and carry on as before. However, files saved in the iCloud are easy pickings for hackers – and recent such privacy breaches include hacked celebrity photos and files, which have been widely publicised across the world.


You likely plug your phone into your laptop or desktop computer to use iTunes, but this too takes information directly from your handset and stores it elsewhere. Those who know where to look can access your iTunes account which will give them access to your purchased music, podcasts, videos and films, alongside payment details for your iTunes accounts – which includes your full name, address, and credit or debit card details.

Recently deleted items

When you delete photos or other files on your phone, you may think that that’s it, and they’re gone. But that’s actually not true. Newer models of iPhones have a ‘Recently Deleted’ album in your Photos menu (scroll down, its hidden!) which actually continue to store your photos for up to 40 days, even after you’ve hit the delete button. This is great for when you accidentally hit the trash can, but not so good if you want to make sure pictures are entirely removed from your phone. You’ll need to delete images from your phone’s main album, and then again from the ‘Recently Deleted’ folder.

If someone has your physical phone handset, they can, with simple free software, plug it into another laptop or computer and rescue recently deleted items – making everything you think you’ve removed from your phone accessible to anyone with the right equipment. And with such software available cheaply, and sometimes free, online, it’s important to make sure you’re protected.

OK. So how can I enhance my privacy and make sure that when I erase items from my phone, it’s permanent?

There are ways to completely protect yourself and make it so even the FBI can’t get hold of what you’ve deleted – unless of course, they’re willing to fork out another $900,000!

Disable iCloud back-up

It’s really easy to disable automatic back-up to the iCloud. Here’s how:

  • - Open Settings (it’s the grey gear-shaped box on your main phone screen, and can’t be removed)
  • - Tap into ‘Apple ID’, or on older iPhone versions ‘iCloud’
  • - Scroll right to the bottom of the page and select ‘Sign Out’
  • - Type in your password – this is standard security to make sure it’s really you disabling it
  • - Tap ‘Turn Off’ at the bottom of the page.

This will also disable the ‘Find my iPhone’ facility.

You can still keep copies your iCloud data by sliding the corresponding sliders next to specific apps to ‘On’ (they’ll go green). However, this will mean that data relating to that app can be accessed – so make sure you don’t do it unless you really need to.

Delete iTunes back-up files

When you plug your iPhone into your computer to access iTunes, you’re actually backing up your phone’s data directly onto your other device. If you want to keep things private, then follow these steps to delete these files:

  • - In the iTunes menu, click ‘Preferences’
  • - Click on ‘Devices’ (it’s at the top)
  • - Select onto the back-up file you’d like to remove, and select ‘Delete Back-up’.

If you want to be extra secure, then delete all back-up files. These can’t be recovered.

Permanently delete your iPhone’s records and data

Completely deleting your iPhone data isn’t as easy as a Google search may suggest. You can select ‘Erase All Content and Settings’ to default your phone back to new, but this isn’t enough, and isn’t the more permanent way.

The most secure method of deletion is a full iOS deletion toolkit. The dr.fone toolkit - iOS Full Data Eraser is a secure and permanent toolkit that will fully wipe all data, saved files and settings from your phone. This will allow you sell or donate your device, and it comes with a full guarantee that data is 100% unrecoverable and secure – meaning that no matter who has your device next, they’re unable to access any of your information. This makes the option completely secure and private. Even if the FBI did pay out $900,000, they’d be unable to access your data!

erase an iphone permanently

Download the dr.fone toolkit - iOS Full Data Eraser now to completely wipe your phone’s data, no matter your version of iOS or Apple handset model.

Once installed onto your computer, load up the software and take the following steps to permanently erase data:

  • - Plug in your device to the USB port
  • - When the option pops up on screen, click Erase (you’ll need to type in a passcode or word to ensure you really mean to – as the data is non-recoverable)
  • - Wait for the data to erase
  • - Unplug your now completely blank device!

Your iPhone will now be completely blank with nothing left on and nothing recoverable.

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dr.fone - Erase (iOS)

dr.fone - Erase (iOS)

Permanently erase what you want from your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, whole devices or part of data.

dr.fone - Backup&Restore (iOS)

dr.fone - Backup&Restore (iOS)

Backup data on your iOS devices easily and restore backup files selectively to any device.

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