This post about iPhone security is brought to you by UnMask.
These days, it is not uncommon for someone to have their whole life saved on their iPhone. This includes their emails, banking information, passwords, photos, etc. If their phone gets stolen or hacked, they run the risk of losing all that data to strangers.
To help you avoid that fate, we came up with five tips you can follow to make your iPhone more secure and reduce the risk of compromising your confidential data. And we put together five more tips that can help you keep from getting your iPhone stolen.
5 ways to make your iPhone more secure instantly
1. Create a strong password
Certain iPhones will require that you use a minimum of four digits for your passcode, while other models need at least six. A good rule of thumb is that you should never use the minimum number of digits for your password. Instead, always make your passcode as strong as you can. Preferably, you will even combine numbers, letters and symbols to create a very secure password that people will have difficulty guessing.
If you can, you should also turn on Touch ID or Face ID. These additional iPhone security features will help keep other people from breaking into your phone. Since they force you to scan either your fingerprint or face before unlocking your iPhone, these biometric options make your device more secure than merely using a passcode someone could hack.
2. Turn off autofill
The convenience of having all your passwords saved when you log into a website can be hard to give up. This is especially the case if you have very different passwords for all your accounts (which is always recommended). Unfortunately, autofill also proves very convenient for hackers if they get hold of your iPhone. They would gain instant access to all your accounts, including your online banking, before you have a chance to report the phone missing or stolen.
To turn off autofill, you will need to find the settings in your browser. In iOS, you can do this by opening the Settings app, then tapping Passwords. Then tap Autofill Passwords and toggle the setting to off.
3. Do not automatically connect to Wi-Fi
Many iPhones will automatically try to connect to a known Wi-Fi signal if they are close enough. This is sometimes a desirable feature, as the user would not need to manually switch between cellular data and Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, scammers came up with ways to take advantage of this feature to steal information from iPhone users. They will set up fake Wi-Fi hotspots with the same name as a trusted network. This can result in people automatically connecting to the fake network, allowing hackers free access to their devices.
To turn off this feature, open the Settings app and tap Wi-Fi. Then tap Ask to Join Networks, and select either Notify or Ask. (In this same section of the Settings app, you can set the same rules for Auto-Join Hotspot.)
4. Utilize Find My on your iPhone
Enabling the Find My app on your iPhone is also smart. It can help you (or the police) track down your iPhone if you ever lose the device or it is stolen. Assuming you are the victim of a robbery, you can log into another device to locate your lost iPhone. It will give you the GPS coordinates of the phone’s last known location, and you can give this information to the police. Hopefully, the authorities will be able to recover the phone before the thieves extract any data from it.
Apple’s Find My app also comes in handy for finding other devices such as an iPad, Mac, Apple Watch or AirTag. To enable the feature, open the Settings app. Then tap your account info at the top of the screen (where your user name and icon appear). Then tap Find My. Finally, tap Find My iPhone and toggle on Find My iPhone. You also should toggle on Find My network and Send Last Location for optimum findability.
5. Avoid jailbreaking your iPhone
Some people find Apple’s limitations on how iOS works too restrictive. For instance, Apple places restrictions on the iPhone’s user interface. It also will reject certain apps from the App Store, making it impossible for iPhone users to obtain them. For reasons like this, some people jailbreak their iPhones to remove these limitations.
While this opens the device to customizations, jailbreaking is never recommended, as it will often void the iPhone’s warranty. You will no longer be able to rely on the advice and protection of tech support from your carrier. And a jailbroken iPhone will be far more susceptible to attacks from hackers and viruses, which can compromise your data.
How to avoid losing your iPhone
We have discussed ways to make your iPhone more secure, which will protect it in the event of theft. Now, we will focus on how you can avoid losing or having your phone stolen in the first place.
1. Avoid using Apple earbuds in public
Using AirPods is a pretty clear giveaway that you have an iPhone in your possession. Pulling a set of these distinctive white earbuds from your bag or pocket can give thieves a pretty good clue about where your iPhone is. If you are in a very busy place or worried about theft, try using a cheap set of earbuds to throw people off.
2. Stay aware of your surroundings
Many people tend to zone out or not pay much attention as they walk down the street. This makes them a clear target for petty thieves. Walk with a purpose, and look around once in a while. This behavior can scare off thieves, as it shows that you are well aware of the situation around you.
3. Use earbuds for directions
When people visit a new place, they often use the GPS on their phone to give them directions. Frequently, they will leave the volume up and follow the directions without using earbuds. This is letting thieves know that you are either new to the area or unfamiliar with your surroundings. To avoid this, plug some earbuds in so you can orient yourself privately. (Obviously this goes against the first tip to avoid using AirPods in public. But simply giving people a clue that you might have an iPhone on you is not nearly as bad as walking around staring at your iPhone for directions.)
4. Do not leave your iPhone unattended
iPhones commonly get stolen when the owner is out at a restaurant or a party. When they leave their phone unattended, it is an easy target for thieves. Try to always keep your phone either in your bag, in your pocket or in your hands at all times. Check once in a while to make sure it is still where you left it.
5. Be leery about lending your phone to strangers
This point holds especially true if you are by yourself or in a fairly deserted area. Scammers will sometimes ask to use your phone to make a call or to check the time. It is safest to tell them that your battery is dead or another similar white lie. It can be difficult to tell the difference between scammers and people who are genuinely in need, but this is the best response you can give. If there is a payphone nearby, you could offer to give them some change so they can make their call. This would also give you an indication of whether they were genuine or lying.