10 Ways to Make Your iPhone Safer

iPhone UserThink of all the information that our smartphones hold and how terrible it would be if a criminal got their hands on it.

These are the 10 steps that you can take to make sure that the personal information that's on your iPhone is protected in case your phone is ever stolen or lost.

1. Set up a passcode.

If you don't have a passcode set up on your iPhone, set it up now. iOS 9 allows 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 even 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.

You can turn on and set passcode via Settings>Touch ID>Passcode

2. Turn on Find My iPhone.

If you're prone to misplacing your iPhone you might already have this feature enabled. If you don't have it turned on yet, you should turn it on. If you're ever to lose your phone or have it stolen Find My iPhone lets you find, lock, or erase your iPhone. It also stops it from being accessed without your password. 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>iCloud>Find My iPhone

3. Turn off your iPhone’s tracking ability.

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.

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. Make sure your screen locks quickly.

If you're not using your iPhone, then it's screen should be locked, not just for safety purposes but also for battery life. You can adjust the time it takes for your iPhone to auto-lock, there are settings that range from Never to 30 seconds. We recommend the shortest amount of time in order to ensure that your phone can't be used without your passcode being entered.

You can set auto-lock via Settings>General>Auto-Lock

5. Turn Siri and other features off on Lock Screen.

Even though your phone is locked and guarded with a passcode, criminals can still access valuable information from the lock screen if you don't have Siri, wallet and notifications turned off. To prevent sensitive information from being divulged you can disable certain features from being accessed via the lock screen.

To turn off Siri and other features via Settings>Touch ID & Passcode, you can scroll down to Allow Access When Locked and choose what features you want to have accessible from the lock screen.

6. Only join trusted Wi-Fi networks and turn off bluetooth when you're not using it.

Free Wi-Fi is always tempting, but we shouldn’t always trust it. You should 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

This feature won't prevent your iPhone from joining already trusted networks.

7. Use a VPN

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and they encrypt your data for you, protecting it from hackers and identity thieves. When using a public Wi-Fi connection a VPN secures your internet connection and makes it so that the data you are transmitting can't be intercepted. 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

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 what data you share with applications.

Another 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. 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 spammers and scammers who call and text you.

Have you ever gotten a text with a shortened link in it along with instructions to follow the link? Or maybe it's 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, like CallerSmart's reverse lookup phone book, to unmask the mystery numbers.

You can block numbers via Settings>Phone>Blocked