10 Ways to Make Your iPhone Safer
Think of all the information that our smartphones hold and how terrible it would be if a criminal got their hands on it. There are several ways to protect your iPhone, including face ID, multiple security features, and numerous Apple and third-party apps that can be downloaded from the app store.
These are the 10 security tips that ensure the personal information that's on your iPhone is protected in case your phone is ever stolen or lost.
1. Lock Your Phone
Using appropriate iPhone security can prevent others from gaining access to your email, text messages, apps, and personal information. There are several ways to lock your phone, through passcodes and remote access. You should always make sure that your phone locks quickly to protect your information and to preserve the battery.
You can set auto-lock via Settings > General > Auto-Lock
If you don't have a strong passcode set up on your iPhone, set it up now. The latest iOS versions, including iOS 12 and iOS 13 allow you to set up passcodes ranging from the default 6-digit code to a simple 4-digit code to a more complex alphanumeric code. From the Touch ID & Passcode screen, you can choose to erase data after 10 failed attempts to log in. Whatever passcode you choose, don't make it an obvious "1234" or "password," make it something that would be difficult for a thief to crack. The most secure password is one that contains a custom alphanumeric code (letters, numbers, and one or more special characters). Never use birthdates or common information. Do not use the same password on multiple devices or apps, and change passwords often.
Turn on and set passcode via Settings > Touch ID > Passcode
2. Set Up Find My iPhone
Another way to lock your phone, this time remotely, is to turn on Find My iPhone.
If you lose your phone or have it stolen Find My iPhone lets you find, lock, or erase your iPhone. Find My iPhone also has the option to Send Last Location, which will send the last location of your iPhone to Apple before the battery dies.
You can enable Find my iPhone via Settings > Apple ID > Find My
3. Turn Off Your iPhone’s Tracking Ability
There are iPhone security measures that can be used to prevent tracking your location and sending the information to Google and other search engines.
Don't want your iPhone keeping a history of your every move? Then you need to turn off the frequent locations setting. If your phone were lost or stolen and this feature was turned on someone would be able to see the places you most often frequent, which means your home, work, or child's school. More recently, stores and other locations have enabled GPS mapping. This means that your phone knows, and reports, including where you have been inside a store. It will send ads and other information to your phone related to the location.
You can turn off tracking via Setting > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Frequent Locations
After turning off Frequent Locations you can also Clear History, which will erase your already tracked locations.
4. Turn off Automatic Settings
Using autofill and auto-sync tools is easy and convenient. However, using the tools allows others to access your apps, websites, and private information because it’s all stored on the phone and immediately populates when needed. Although it can be somewhat inconvenient, enter your information as needed. You can also use a master password program to store passwords, as long as the autofill feature is disabled.
You turn off autofill on Safari via Settings > Safari > AutoFill
Like autofill, auto-sync can prevent private information from being stored automatically on Apple iCloud. If information is auto-synced, erasing it from your phone doesn’t remove the information from iCloud. For example, a celebrity has a compromising or embarrassing photo on his phone. The phone automatically syncs to iCloud. The photo might be deleted on the phone but remains on iCloud. If the system is accessed by another, that photo could end up in next week’s tabloids. Although you can select which apps and features auto-sync, it’s best to turn off the feature and transfer data manually.
You can turn off auto-sync via Settings > iCloud
5. Turn Siri and Other Features Off on Lock Screen
Even though iPhone users can lock and guard their phones using a strong password & security features, criminals can still access valuable personal information from the lock screen if you don't have Siri, wallet, and notifications should be turned off. To prevent sensitive information from being divulged you can disable certain features from being accessed via the lock screen.
You can turn off Siri and manage other lock screen features via Settings > Touch ID & Passcode
6. Use Two-Step Verification
Two-Step Verification, also calls Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), has become standard with many apps and websites. Use Two-Step Verification wherever it’s available, especially for your Apple ID and iCloud. Whenever you log in or make a purchase, the system will send a confirmation code to an email account or to a second, trusted device, such as an iPad. It prevents people from accessing or making purchases on your account.
You can set up Two-Step Verification via https://appleid.apple.com > Manage your Apple ID > Password and Security > Two-Step Verification
7. Only Join Trusted Wi-Fi Networks and Turn Off Bluetooth
Free Wi-Fi is always tempting, but it shouldn’t be trusted. Enable your iPhone's Ask to Join Network setting. This will prevent your phone from joining an untrusted or unknown network and make it harder for hackers to break into your phone. Similarly, Bluetooth and Air Drop should also be turned off to prevent your phone from connecting to other devices while on the go.
You can turn on Ask to Join Networks via Settings > Wi-Fi
Additionally, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt and protect your data. It will protect your information even if you are using public Wi-Fi. There are several different VPN apps for iOS that can be downloaded and will protect your connection.
You can also set up a VPN if you already have one from work or school via Settings > General > VPN
While avoiding public Wi-Fi and using a VPN are valuable tools, keep in mind that they aren’t the only way hackers can access your information. A new method of hacking is called “Juice Jacking.” Simply put, hackers install a device inside USB ports to access data when your iPhone is plugged in for charging purposes. It also allows the hacker to place malware or other programs on your phone. The solution is to buy a data blocker. The small device is inexpensive and easy to use. It is placed between your phone’s USB cable and the phone. It allows the phone to charge but no data can be transmitted.
8. Block Cookies and Limit Ad Tracking
A third way to protect your personal information when browsing and using public Wi-Fi connections is to disable cookies from being used on your phone and limit ad tracking. Cookies are little bits of information that websites and advertisers use to track your behavior when browsing.
You can turn off cookies via Settings > Safari > Block Cookies
You can limit ad tracking via Setting > Privacy > Advertising
9. Check Application Data Sharing Settings
An important privacy setting that often gets overlooked is protecting what data you share with the different apps you've downloaded. Some apps ask for access to your location, contacts, camera, and microphone. Others ask for permission to make changes to your phone’s operating system. You can manage what information you share with different apps to ensure optimum privacy.
You can manage what information you allow access to via Settings > Privacy
10. Block Spam Callers and Scams
Have you ever gotten a text with a shortened link in it along with instructions to follow the link? Or maybe you receive constant calls from illegal telemarketers and foreign scammers. For peace of mind, it's best to never click a link or accept a call from a number that you don't recognize. You can use a number tracer app, like CallerSmart, to unmask the mystery numbers.
You can block numbers via Settings > Phone > Blocked Contacts