How to boost iOS 9 security with 6-digit passcode

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Password Six

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

We’ve all been using a passcode to secure our iPhones and iPads since forever, right? You’ve had the option to use an alphanumeric passcode since iOS 7, but if you chose to use a simple numeric code, you were limited to four digits.

Not anymore! Apple added the ability to use a six-digit passcode in iOS 9, and this quick settings tweak will make your iPhone or iPad far more secure.

The more digits in your passcode, the harder it is for someone to guess and/or brute-force your code. According to Apple, changing to a six-digit passcode gives you 1 million possible combinations rather than the 10,000 offered by a four-digit code.

With a brute-force computer, it takes on average 40 seconds to attempt every passcode; theoretically, it would take a maximum of 111 hours, or 4.5 days, for a computer to crack a four-digit passcode. Bump it up to a six-digit passcode and it’d take the same machine 11,000 hours, or 458 days.

Set up a 6-digit passcode

Here’s how to switch to a six-digit passcode in iOS 9, currently in beta.

Tap into your Settings app and then tap on Touch ID & Passcode. You’ll be prompted to enter your current four-digit code.

Next, swipe down to the section just past the Fingerprint area and tap Change Passcode. You’ll have to enter your current passcode again.

Now, enter your new six-digit passcode and tap on Next in the upper right of your screen. Enter your new passcode again to verify, then hit Done. If you’ve entered it in there twice correctly, you’ll go back to the Touch ID & Passcode screen. If not, try again until you get it right.

That’s it! Now when you need to use a passcode to unlock your iPhone or iPad running iOS 9, you’ll use the new six-digit string.