You probably know about finding a decent case for your phone so the screen doesn’t shatter during a bathroom break gone horribly wrong, but what do you know about the cybersecurity of your smartphone? Do you know what to do when you suspect your phone has been stolen? These are important questions to ask yourself considering that iPhones are very popular on the black market and the personal data they contain can easily lead to identity theft in the wrong hands. Anyone can learn to defend themselves and their phone, and it is imperative you do so.
Here are some of the best things you can do to keep your iPhone and its data safe from theft:
Use a Virtual Private Network
If you use public networks (and you do), then you need to get a Virtual Private Network to keep yourself safe. It is a service that will connect you to an offsite server while encrypting your connection, keeping your data hidden from hackers hoping to intercept it. If you fall victim to such an attack, then you can find your personal communications and accounts in the hands of the highest bidder. You will also be able to stay private due to your IP address being hidden, allowing you to access otherwise blocked services (think of Netflix when overseas) and websites.
Have a Lock Screen
Way too many people ignore this and will put their information at risk for the slightest hint of convenience. All you need is a PIN number to keep out a great many thieves, and biometric readings on the latest iPhones take the security to the next level without that hassle. Just make sure your password is complex if you use one and that you don’t have ways to interact with your phone from the lock screen (for example, it might be a good idea to disable voice commands and control functions on it). Use what works best for you; just please have some level of protection.
Only Use Trusted Apps
Don’t look for apps outside of iTunes. Some of them may sound enticing, and others may say they’re free versions of apps you know and love, but they’re nearly all scams or malware (or both). If you invite such things onto your iPhone, there is little the default defenses of your phone can do. If you want a secure phone, don’t jailbreak it to try to get more accessibility and only use good apps. If you can’t find good reviews, skip it and look for something else on iTunes.
Consider Your Privacy Options
Some of the problems that seem complex can be solved by adjusting a few quick settings in your iPhone’s options menu. If you don’t use Siri, disable it so there is less data coming from your phone. Also consider if you really need location tracking active on your phone, and inquire as to the permissions you give the apps you use every day. You might find that the breach of privacy isn’t worth the convenience. Whatever you choose, make it a conscious and educated decision.
Erase Sensitive Data Regularly
Most people forget the fact that if they have texts or messages they no longer want on their phone, it is well within their power to delete them. You can delete entire conversations about personal or financial topics that you don’t want snoops or potential thieves to know about. You can also delete cookies from your browser, your search history, app data (or the apps themselves, if you’re done with them), field entries and more. Try going through your entire iPhone every week and getting rid of what you don’t want in order to stay more private.
Be Able to Track It
Assume that the worst is going to happen. Your phone can easily be pickpocketed or even stolen right out of your hands as you try to take a selfie. You might simply lose it at the bowling alley (which has totally not happened to my iPhone). You need to have a plan of action and that plan should involve tracking your iPhone. If it is lost, you might be able to catch it in time, and if it is stolen, you can either report it to the authorities and still have some hope, or use other features to remotely wipe your phone. That way you won’t fall victim to data theft.
Do you have any additional security tips that you use on your iPhone or other Apple product? Has one or more of the above ideas helped you stay safe in the past? Do you have any other thoughts concerning iPhone security? If so, please leave a comment below so we can continue this conversation about protecting our treasured devices.