I have been cyber bullied by an unknown assailant. They sent several emails using a throwaway GMail account and then sent several SMS texts from two different phone numbers. The last number actually sent texts to my 16 year old daughter, and I have no idea how they obtained her number.

Can my iPhone have been hacked?

  • 1
    Have you recently done an online search for your email, name and phone numbers? If not, I'd recommend it. If nothing shows up, it is likely to be a compromised Facebook or other account. Personally, I don't give phone numbers to any online service if I can help it. For email, I use an extendable name pattern such as myname+suppliername@.... which Gmail also supports. That way I can block compromised addresses and trace them back to the origin. Oct 5, 2016 at 15:02
  • You might need to change email and phone numbers. Oct 5, 2016 at 15:03
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    Please do not post peoples email adresses or phone numbers here even if you think they belong to the assailant. They may very well belong to someone completely innocent.
    – Anders
    Oct 5, 2016 at 16:09
  • I understand and will not post emails and phone numbers here. I apologize. I am clueless when it comes to this stuff. That is why I reached out here. Again, my apologies and please understand I am not attempting to blatantly disregard etiquette.
    – user126350
    Oct 5, 2016 at 16:32

2 Answers 2


Caller ID (which includes the SMS sender field) is spoofable by design. I'm fairly certain the numbers you have are innocent people's numbers chosen at random, and the offensive texts were actually sent through an online SMS service.

In any case, your mobile carrier may still have the logs containing which carrier the texts really originated. It may end up nowhere (if the far-end carrier is an online SMS gateway and the attackers used Tor, proxies or compromised computers to conceal their identity) but it's worth a try.

Get in touch with the police, they will obtain the logs from your phone's carrier and investigate based on that, and they may be able to locate the attackers, but as I said, if the attackers did their job right, the chances of them being brought to justice are unfortunately close to zero. Your best bet is to ignore them, possibly change phone numbers & e-mail addresses and making sure none of your new information leaks out (don't reveal too much on social networks, etc). Google your name and your relatives and see what comes up. Try to get any personal information taken down or change it so whatever data is published is no longer valid. I suggest you read this : After getting doxxed, how can one protect personally identifiable information?

I doubt your iPhone was compromised, especially if it's up to date. iOS exploits retail for millions on the black market and I do not think someone would waste valuable exploits just to bully someone. Your computer, on the other hand, may have been compromised. I suggest you reinstall it and change your passwords.

  • Thank you for your quick response. I have contacted the police, IC3, and attempting to subpoena google for the email originator. Thank you again.
    – user126350
    Oct 4, 2016 at 3:20
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    @user126350 that's the right thing to do. In the meantime make sure your devices are safe, and try to ignore the problem. This kind of lowlife gets a kick out of their victim's reaction - if you are indifferent they'll quickly get bored and move on. Oct 4, 2016 at 3:24

In most cases yes SMS messages can easily be traced if they initiated from an actual phone and not an International bulk SMS relay service (in many cases those are also still traceable).

Many countries require that all telephone metadata (which includes the source and destination numbers) is recorded and kept on file by the telephone provider either for a set time length or in some cases indefinitely. Likewise for billing purposes most telecoms keep track of every individual connection for what each one of them deems to be a reasonable time period even if it's not mandated by law in their jurisdiction.

The longevity of these records is also rapidly increasing as the price of storage declines and companies recognize the value of data mining, leveraging Big Data in numerous ways, and having large amounts of "learning data" for Artificial Intelligence applications.

Gathering the data to do what you have mentioned would not require hacking your phone but it also doesn't mean that did not happen. Most likely this information is available publicly or the bully had access to that information via some other means.

Depending on where you live law enforcement may be able to help. Likewise in most areas you can hire a Private Investigator locally who may be able to help. If you are still not sure where to go most attorneys give a free initial session and may be able to refer you to a specialist in your area.

Attorneys can also help you draft a discovery request which in some cases may help with getting research started, or at least preserved, relating to your incident.

Additionally contact the phone company and ask them to preserve the records and see if they can help. They may not be able to divulge more information without a court order however in some cases their internal fraud/abuse teams may be able to rapidly escalate getting the information to local law enforcement.

Note: As much as I wish this were not the case keep in mind that most law enforcement offices are overwhelmed by on-line crime and may consider this lower priority when compared to dealing with other issues that are either deemed more important or easier to solve. In their defense, there is a LOT of on-line crime and they have very little resources (and in some cases little training ) to deal with it. Be as helpful to them as you can be. Finally, having an attorney involved may help a lot in this regard if nothing else it may prioritize your case over others where no attorney is present.

I would also recommend pursuing the e-mail as well. In some cases this will make it much easier to identify the person doing this.

  • Thank you for your answer. I have already contacted the police and filled out the IC3 form online. I have not heard back from either as of yet. You have given me some new info that I will capitalize on. Thank you very much.
    – user126350
    Oct 4, 2016 at 3:33

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