A popular hacker tool has the iPhone in its sights — here's how to fight it

iPhone 15 Plus
(Image credit: Future)

If you constantly have Bluetooth turned on in your iPhone settings, you might want to change that, at least when you’re in crowded public spaces. Right now, iPhones are being attacked via a popular hacking tool known as the Flipper Zero device, and this device is gaining access to iPhones via open Bluetooth communications.

TechRadar writes that the Flipper Zero device is marketed as a “multi-tool device for geeks” that can act as a remote key or, ironically, be used to help with cyber security penetration testing. However, Ars Technica notes that the Flipper Zero is often used in a more criminal manner, citing reports of people using the device to change TV channels in public places, clone hotel keys, or even open automatic garage doors.

Now, it appears the Flipper Zero device is growing in its capabilities, and we could start seeing more frequent attacks on Bluetooth devices in general. Flipper Zero makes it much easier for hobby-hackers to infiltrate your privacy, even if it is just to play a prank. If your iPhone is the next victim of a Flipper Zero attack, there’s not much you can do right now, but here are the best available tips.

How to prevent your iPhone from being hacked via Flipper Zero 

Security researcher Jeroen van der Ham was on a train in the Netherlands when his iPhone randomly popped up multiple windows and rebooted, rendering his device useless. In a quote from van der Ham (via Ars Technica), he mentions that during the attack, his phone was “almost unusable” and that it’s possible to “do stuff in between for a couple of minutes,” but the overall experience was incredibly annoying.

In those moments when it’s possible to access your phone for a few minutes, toggle Bluetooth off. That’s the only way to cut the communication between your iPhone and the Flipper Zero device. Head to your iPhone’s Settings app to turn off Bluetooth. Simply toggling Bluetooth from the Control Center won’t turn off Bluetooth, and it still leaves you vulnerable to attacks via Flipper Zero.

Although iPhones are currently the smartphones being attacked more frequently in the media, Android devices are just as vulnerable to Flipper Zero hacks. TechCrunch says Android devices can locate “the ‘nearby share’ option and [toggle] off notifications” as well as turning off Bluetooth in settings.

Many of us connect wireless earbuds to our phones via Bluetooth, and that’s how we listen to music or podcasts throughout the day. However, until Flipper Zero attacks quiet down or someone comes up with a way to more effectively prevent attacks, you might consider turning off Bluetooth in settings before entering a public place and using wired headphones or earbuds instead.