It’s no secret we’re concerned about the security of the devices we use every day. Many of us secure our smartphones with our fingerprints. And while we might occasionally worry our phones have been tapped or computers have been hacked, most of us have the sense to realize our time is better spent taking solid precautions instead of indulging fruitless paranoia.
But even those of us who aren’t spies or secret agents would do well to protect ourselves more thoroughly when we’re online. Our smartphones go with us everywhere. We leave them on our desks at work and have them in our hands when we’re walking outside. They look for public Wi-Fi networks and handle countless Google searches for us each day. Plus, we use them to pay our bills and make purchases. And we trust our smartphones to hold the photos, messages, and contacts we couldn’t be without.
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to keep your phone secure. That’s especially true if you have an iPhone. Apple treats privacy as a product. And whether you believe Cupertino’s narrative that it stands for privacy and rival Google does not, you can’t deny Apple offers many ways to keep your iPhone secure. If you’re interested in making sure nobody unwanted can access the information on your iPhone, read on to check out some of the easy ways you can protect your iPhone data.
1. Set up Touch ID
One of the easiest ways to keep prying eyes out of your iPhone is to set up Touch ID. The Touch ID fingerprint sensor is embedded into the home button. And if you dislike punching in a pass code each time you want to unlock your iPhone, setting up fingerprint recognition is a pretty convenient alternative.
If you didn’t set up Touch ID when you first got your iPhone, just open the Settings app. Then, tap Touch ID & Passcode. You can use Touch ID to unlock your iPhone, for Apple Pay, and for the iTunes and App Stores. You also can add multiple fingerprints.
2. Use a pass code
You also should set up a pass code to unlock your iPhone. You can do that in the Touch ID & Passcode section of the Settings app. You almost certainly already know this, but we’ll remind you once again. It’s not a great idea to choose a pass code that somebody could easily guess. Don’t choose “1234” or “1111” or “0000.” You definitely want to pick a pass code you’ll be able to remember. But don’t choose one a nosy friend would be able to guess.
3. Choose a longer pass code
If you’re using a four-digit pass code to unlock your iPhone, there’s an easy way to make your iPhone more secure. Beginning with iOS 10, Apple is requiring users to set up a six-digit pass code instead of the four-digit one that was allowed in iOS 9.
A longer pass code will be more secure than a shorter one. And if you set up Touch ID, the extra two digits shouldn’t pose much of an inconvenience. Most of the time, you’ll be able to use your fingerprint to quickly unlock your phone instead of punching in the pass code.
4. Choose what’s visible on the lock screen
Another useful feature in the Touch ID & Passcode section of the Settings app is the section that enables you to choose what’s accessible when your iPhone is locked. You can allow access to the Today View, the Notifications View, Siri, the Reply with Message feature, the Home Control feature, and Wallet.
If you’re worried about the personal information that would be accessible to someone who picks up your iPhone, you can turn off at least some of those features. That’s probably a good idea if you tend to leave your phone on your desk, for instance.
5. Turn off the ‘Hey, Siri’ feature
If you’re worried about the information that somebody could get from your iPhone by talking to Siri, then you might want to deactivate the “Hey, Siri” feature. It’s the “Hey, Siri” feature that enables you to activate Siri just with your voice, without hitting any buttons or unlocking your phone. You can turn off the feature by opening the General section of the Settings app and finding the setting in the Siri section.
6. Erase data after 10 failed pass code attempts
The final setting you’ll want to know in the Touch ID & Passcode section is the option to erase the data on your iPhone after 10 failed pass code attempts. That sounds like a pretty extreme measure. But think of it this way. If your phone gets stolen or you accidentally leave it behind, you probably don’t want a stranger to be able to access your messages, photos, and all of the apps that have sensitive personal information.
Even allowing for normal errors, it shouldn’t ever take you 10 tries to get your own pass code right. So this is a pretty good way to make your iPhone more secure in the event that it gets lost or stolen.
7. Don’t share your Apple ID
Another basic precaution you should take to make your iPhone more secure? Don’t share your Apple ID with anyone or post it online. A hacker who knows your Apple ID and can guess your password would be able to log in to your iCloud account. Is that a likely scenario? Probably not. But your passwords might be easier for hackers to guess than you’d like to think.
The moral of the story? Don’t share your Apple ID with anyone. And remember it’s a good idea to change your iCloud password regularly, in addition to all your other important passwords.
8. Enable 2-step verification for your Apple ID
It’s always a good idea to turn on two-step verification wherever it’s available. That’s 100% true for your Apple ID, which Apple explains is “your account for everything Apple.” Enabling two-step verification makes your account much more secure.
Every time you sign in to iCloud, manage your Apple ID, or make a purchase in iTunes or the App Store on a new device, Apple will require you to verify your identity. The two-step process not only includes your password, but also a four-digit code that you’ll receive via a text message.
9. Don’t jailbreak your iPhone
Let’s get this out of the way. You should only consider jailbreaking your iPhone if you know what you’re doing. Jailbreaking enables you to do what you want with your iPhone. And you’ll be able to install whatever apps you want, instead of just those Apple has approved for the iOS App Store.
A jailbreak invalidates your iPhone’s warranty. It enables you install apps that are infected with malware without the protection of Apple’s approval process, and it keeps your iPhone from installing the latest software updates. That can undermine the security of your iPhone. For most people, jailbreaking their iPhone isn’t worth the risk.
10. Forget automatic Wi-Fi connections
Your iPhone can automatically remember and connect to known Wi-Fi networks. That doesn’t sound like a bad idea. But it can get dangerous if you’re in the habit of connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, especially those with generic names.
It’s well known hackers will establish fake networks with the same names as public hot spots. So your phone might automatically connect to a fake network and hand your data over to the hacker.
To improve your iPhone’s security, you can turn off the feature. Just open the Wi-Fi section of the Settings app, and toggle the “Ask to Join Networks” setting off. You’ll have to manually select a network, but you won’t have to worry about your iPhone automatically connecting to a malicious network.
11. Pay attention to what Safari is doing
It’s not just when you’re connected to a public network that your web browsing can put your privacy at risk. So it’s a good idea to watch what Safari is doing with your data.
In the Safari section of the Settings app, you should turn off the AutoFill feature. Toggle on the Do Not Track option, and block cookies. Plus, think twice about saving critical passwords directly in Safari. If someone gains access to your iPhone, you don’t want them to be able to easily log in to all of your accounts.