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Practical Tips: How To Secure Your iPhone

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In recent days many of you probably read extensively about the legal dispute between the FBI and Apple. This legal battle related to unlocking an iPhone 5 that belonged to one of the terrorists involved in the San Bernardino attack in December 2015.

FBI obtained a court order that compelled Apple to remove encryption and other security features from the smart phone. The company refused and appealed the decision, quoting various arguments, from commercial sensitivity of the brand to citizens' personal freedoms.

Encryption has become an issue that was widely spoken of and was heavily covered in the media, both traditional and electronic ones.

I think that in this whole big debate people forgot one basic thing - that many users still do not bother with smart phone security features or are just happy to use their phones with the bare minimum in terms of security settings.

I decided to write this article in order to give some advice on how you can secure your iPhone.


Your typical iPhone


The following tips will give you peace of mind when it comes to securing your device.

Please note that you do not have to apply all the security features I mention, but it is always good practice to utilise every bit of software that your phone is equipped with.

The more security features you enable, the less likely it is that an unauthorised party will gain access to your data and private information.

So here goes the advice:

1. Always Lock Your Screen

Locking your screen is the first basic security step. 

Bear in mind that PIN codes or patterns are more effective than fingerprint scanners.

The longer your PIN is, the harder it will be to hack it using a brute force attack.

It is estimated that an average PIN code that is 11 digits long would require 127 years of hacking efforts needed to decrypt the phone.

2. Turn On the "Erase Data" Option

This is an emergency valve and enabling it will ensure your private information will be safe from unauthorised access.

By default, the "Erase data" function will delete ALL data from the phone if somebody who is trying to unlock the screen enters the wrong code 10 times.

This may be especially helpful in situations when you lost your phone and do not want anybody to access the confidential or sensitive information on the handset.

3. Turn Off the "Notification View" Option

By doing so you will restrict access to old notifications, as long as your phone remains locked.

It is also important to disable the notifications for texts and communicator messages that pop up on the screen and are visible even while the PIN protects the phone.

That way nobody will be able to read potentially private messages as they will no longer be visible at the top part of the screen.

4. Disable the iCloud Back Up Option

iCloud back up

This is a tricky one - disabling the iCloud back up will remove the cloud storage functionality on your smart phone. It means that your data will not be backed up automatically, but it also means that nobody will be able to access your private stuff on your iCloud account.

Turning off this option should be considered carefully and is something of an individual choice.

It comes down to the following dilemma: what is more important for me - the privacy and confidentiality of my data in the event my phone is lost / stolen, or the ability to locate the device via GPS.

Remember that the "Find my iPhone" option relies on the iCloud back up configuration for the purpose of locating your handset via the GPS system.

5. Do Not Trust Unknown Computers When Connecting Your iPhone

When plugging in your iPhone via USB to a computer or a laptop that you don't normally use, always select the "Do Not Trust" option.

Any trusted computer can allow access to your phone and its data without the need of entering the security code.

Also, a nosy network administrator can see your phone being connected to a particular computer and might be tempted to have a look at what you have on it or even to copy your content.

Always use only your own trusted computer to download or upload content onto the phone!



Mar 30, 2016 2:30am
Important stuff - good piece. I think you nailed it "many users still do not bother with smart phone security features or are just happy to use their phones with the bare minimum in terms of security settings."

Even though smartphones have been around for a while I think people (and maybe I'm wrong on this) still tend to view them as "phones" not as computers. As you point out, a lot of information can be found on these small devices.
Mar 30, 2016 3:02am
Thanks very much Leigh, I hope people here will find this info helpful!
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