6 Security Tips That Will Turn Your iPhone Into Fort Knox

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by Jack Taylor | Last Updated:  December 10, 2019

Apple devices are known to be incredibly secure right out of the box. But are there additional security measures you can take to set up privacy settings on your iPhone? Is there a way in which you can ensure that your data is actually secure?

There are 6 security measures that you can take right now to ensure that your data stays private and secure, even if your device is lost or stolen. They are as follows:

1) Use an Alphanumeric Passcode
2) Lowdown Your Lockscreen
3) Set up iCloud Keychain
4) Protect Your Data Using Secure Erase
5) Secure Your Browsing Experience
6) Enable Automatic Software Updates

There are two camps of thought when it comes to security with IOS. There is one camp that wants to keep their data secure from prying eyes, and then there is another camp of people who are paranoid and think that everybody (including Apple), is out to get their information.

Regardless of the camp that you reside in, the step-by-step security measures offered in this article will help ensure that your iPhone is buttoned up tight. With that in mind, let’s begin by discussing technology, and Apple’s position regarding your privacy.

Coming to Terms in Trusting Technology

When using technology, at some point, there comes a time when you must decide which technology and/or platform you will trust, and which technology and/or platform you will not trust.

For example, you may not trust the Cloud, but instead trust your computer. Going a step further, you may not trust that the data stored on your computer is secure, but you might entrust your data to a USB drive that you can place in your pocket.

The problem, however, is that eventually you will have to plug that USB device into a computer in order to access the data on that USB drive. In other words, if you are going to use technology, you have come to terms with what technology or platform you will trust.

To the completely paranoid, there is almost never a satisfying answer. They will argue any point you make with a counter point. If that is you, I’m not going to argue with you. Again, my purpose is to offer tips on how to better secure your iPhone, showing you how to ensure that the information on your device stays private and secure.

If you approach Apple security with vitriol and skepticism, your bias will only solidify your current position. If, however, you approach security with an unbiased open mind, you may find a nugget or two in this article that you may benefit from.

Apple’s Position Regarding Your Privacy

Let’s briefly start with Apple’s position on your privacy, and then discuss it’s implications.

Privacy is a fundamental human right. At Apple, it’s also one of our core values. Your devices are important to so many parts of your life. What you share from those experiences, and who you share it with, should be up to you. We design Apple products to protect your privacy and give you control over your information. It’s not always easy. But that’s the kind of innovation we believe in.

https://www.apple.com/privacy/

If anything, apple is all about the customer experience. In fact, their brand is customer experience. They know that if they focus on your experience as a customer, they will gain brand loyalty. Not only do they offer dozens of settings and services that will allow you to make the information on your phone private and secure, but they also value your privacy at the Apple store itself.

For example, did you know that every time you visit an Apple store and upgrade your iPhone with a trade in, they will take your old iPhone and completely wipe it in your presence, and give you the SIM card to do whatever you want with it? Did you know that when visiting an Apple store, you have the option to receive your receipt via e-mail or have them print a paper receipt? If you opt for a paper receipt, you will not find your name, phone number, or any other personal information on that receipt.

These are just two ways in which they demonstrate that they value your privacy. As already mentioned, Apple values your privacy by offering plethora of settings within the iPhone itself, allowing you full control your information, Moreover, they even give you control over what applications can and can’t access your data.

6 Overlooked Security Measures

These are several things that you you can do right now to make your iPhone more secure. Let’s take a look at 6 of them.

1) Use an Alphanumeric Passcode

Face ID has been with us ever since iPhone X came out in 2017, and is now available for the iPhone X, XS, XS Max, XR, 11, 11 Pro, and the 11 Pro Max. It is also available for the iPad Pro (third generation), and there is no sign that it is going away any time in the near future. In spite of Face ID, there still is a need for a passcode, however. For example, after rebooting your iPhone, you must enter the passcode to use the phone.

Because passcodes seem to be a nuisance, we tend to make them as simple as possible, and in so doing, we defeat the purpose of a passcode. It is supposed to be something that is NOT easy to figure out, but because they are such an annoyance, we tend to make them easy . . . . like 1111 or 123456.

Because your passcode is probably very easy to figure out, I recommend that you change your passcode to alphanumeric. This means that instead of simply using a combination of numbers, (which, let’s be honest, is probably your banking PIN number too), let’s change it up a bit. Decide on a passcode that combines capital letters, lowercase letters with numbers and symbols.

You can still use Face ID, but when a passcode is necessary, you can make it VERY difficult for someone to hack into your iPhone by simply making your passcode an alphanumeric passcode.

To change your passcode, simply open up the Settings app, and scroll down to the third section and tap Face ID & Passcode.

You will need to enter your current passcode to access the Face ID & Passcode settings, tap Done at the top right of the screen. Scroll down and tap Change Passcode.

You will need to enter your current (old) passcode, and tap Next at the top right of the screen. You will then be asked to enter your new passcode, but STOP. Instead of entering a new passcode here, tap Passcode Options just above the number keys (note that the number keys are not displayed in the screenshot below).

This will then display the Custom Alphanumeric Code option. Tap on that, and the keyboard will appear so that you can enter your new alphanumeric passcode (again, the keyboard is not displayed in the screenshot below).

Once finished, tap Next (at the top right). You will then be asked to enter it a second time. Once you do, tap Done at the top right, and you will then be brought back to the Face ID & Passcode settings page.

2) Lockdown Your Lockscreen

Even though an alphanumeric password will make it ridiculously difficult to guess your password to get into your phone, one can still gain access to information, particularly if they are a determined hacker.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to make that all the more difficult, should your iPhone fall into the wrong hands.

From your lockscreen, by default, one has access to both Siri and the Control Panel. From there, one could turn on Airplane mode which would prevent you from being able to locate your phone via the Find My app or iCloud.com. The goal here is to take away as many possible access points from your lockscreen.

To do this, we will go to SETTINGS > FACE ID & PASSCODE and then enter your passcode. Now , scroll down to the section titled: “ALLOW ACCESS WHEN LOCKED“.

To ensure that you limit any ability for one to potentially gain information from your iPhone, personal or otherwise, you will want to turn off the following items:

3) Set up iCloud Keychain

We all know that we should never use the same password twice, but we all do. According to a Microsoft Security Intelligence Report, ” Reusing passwords across multiple account-based services is common. According to a 2018 study of nearly 30 million users and their passwords, password reuse and modifications were common for 52% of users. The same study also found that 30% of the modified passwords and all the reused passwords can be cracked within just 10 guesses.

So then, what is the solution? Keychain.

Keychain (iCloud Keychain), allows you to keep your passwords and other secure information updated across all of your apple devices. It’s already built into the operating system of all Apple devices. In effect, when you enter a password on your iPhone, that password will also work on any other device within the Apple ecosystem. The purpose of Keychain is so that you don’t have to remember your password.

If you enable Keychain, it will auto-fill your information, like your Safari usernames and passwords, credit cards, Wi-Fi passwords, and social media log-ins, and it does this on any device that you approve. The great thing about Keychain, is that it is not *just* for websites. It will also work on applications used on any Apple device. There is no need to ever re-use a password. There is no need to remember all of your passwords. Keychain does it all for you. In fact, the only password that you will need to remember is your iCloud password.

Basically, when you once you supply the username, anyplace a password is required, Keychain will offer an random 18 character password for you to use. Once you accept the provided password, it will store that password in your iCloud account for use on any of your other Apple devices.

To enable Keychain, simply tap Settings > <your name at the top> > iCloud > and toggle Keychain to the ON (green), position.

4) Protect Your Data Using Secure Erase

If your iPhone falls into the wrong hands, you have the ability to make it frustratingly difficult for one to get into your iPhone by guessing your password, (alphanumeric or otherwise).

In a nutshell, you can force your iPhone to automatically erase all of the content and settings after 10 failed login attempts. The way that it works is that after 5 failed attempts, it will lock the phone for 1 minute, preventing you from trying again.

After 1 minute, they can try again, but if they fail to enter the correct password, they will be locked out for 5 minutes.

After 15 minutes, they can try again, but if they fail to enter the correct password, they will be locked out for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, they can try again, but if they fail to enter the correct password, the iPhone will then automatically erase all data and settings.

To enable this feature, tap the Settings > Face ID & Passcode > enter your password > scroll all the way to the bottom and toggle ON Erase Data“.

As soon as you enable this setting, you will then have to tap the Enable link at the bottom of the screen.

Now, after 10 failed attempts, it will completely wipe the phone.

5) Secure Your Browsing Experience

When surfing the internet, you want to make sure that you are well protected. As one would expect, Safari is blazingly fast on IOS because the software is designed to run on the hardware, but will it keep me safe while using the internet?

In short, yes. Safari will keep you safe while using the internet and it offers numerous security settings that you can configure to your liking. Let’s take a look at a few of those settings.

To begin, tap the Settings app, and then scroll down to the 5th section and tap Safari.

We are not going to go through every setting here, but there are a few settings that I would like to bring to your attention.

While still under the PRIVACY & SECURITY section, you *could* tap on the “Clear History and Website Data” link, but if you would like to see what you are actually deleting, scroll down to the very bottom of the page and tap Advanced > Website Data, and you will see a list of sites you have visited and how much data (images and content), that they have downloaded to your phone. If you wish, you can delete all of this by tapping Remove All Website Data at the bottom of the screen.

As indicated, this will clear data that could be used for tracking. Once you are sure you want to remove the data, tap “Remove Now

6) Enable Automatic Software Updates

When you think of updating your operating system, you probably think of new features that are offered, and though this may be true, the security of the operation system evolves as well. There are people out there who make it their life mission to expose an Apple security flaw in the hope of embarrassing Apple.

In fact, Apple even challenges people to expose a security flaw. As mentioned in my article, “How to Update Your iPhone“, . . . so confident is Apple regarding the security of IOS, they have introduced a “Bug Bounty” program where they will pay hackers up to $1 million dollars if they can find an exploit in IOS and report it to Apple through proper channels.

It is very rare that they succeed, but when they do, Apple is quick to release a fix, which is why you should keep your iPhone up to date.

To update your iPhone and keep it up to date, you will want to open the Settings app and tap General > Software Update. If a software update is available, it will display, allowing you to download and install it. While on this page, be sure to toggle ON (green), Automatic Updates. That way, your phone will automatically download any new updates in the background, while connected to Wi-Fi, usually in the middle of the night when you are sleeping. Once it is downloaded and ready to be installed, you will be asked if now is a good time. You are always in complete control.

Closing Thoughts

As you can see, there are plenty of security features and settings for you to configure. I would encourage you to use the step-by-step instructions found in this article to configure your iPhone in a way that will work for you.

You can rest assured that if you apply some of them, if not all of the security settings provided in this article, your data, settings, and memories found in the photos app on your iPhone are secure and will stay that way, even if your phone is lost or stolen.


Jack has been helping people with computers needs for several years, and he loves to help people succeed. He brings a wealth of wisdom and insight from an entrepreneur's perspective and enjoys freelance writing. In fact, when he's not writing an article or working on his YouTube channel, you might find him binge-watching Suits or formatting his computer . . . again, just for fun. To learn more about Jack, click here.
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