“Apple recently confirmed that its device users unlock their phones 80 times every day. That’s about as much as six to seven times every hour.” – Julia Naftulin, Business Insider
How many times do you actually use your phone during the day? In the last 10 years, we’ve gone from using the phone simply to call and text to using our phones for banking, working, accessing health data, and more. Imagine how much sensitive information you have available on your phone that can easily be accessed if someone gets their hands on your precious device. As we continue our “Protect…” series, we’ll be discussing five tips to keep your iPhone safe.
Use a VPN, Especially for Public Wifi
A VPN is a Virtual Private Network, which provides an encrypted “tunnel” between you and a remote server so if anyone tries to spy on you, they can’t see your data. It does this by hiding your real IP address, location, and identity. While this may seem a bit unnecessary to some, it is a necessity for keeping your data safe, especially while using public WIFI.
Does anyone else spend a day working at a coffee shop or connect to the WIFI while waiting for a flight at the airport? Public WIFI is everywhere and is easy for everyone to connect to, which also makes it easy to hack. The open nature of these networks is inviting hackers to get easy access to your data and browsing info without you actually knowing. Think about it: do you actually know who is monitoring the WIFI networks that you use? You never know who is seeing your data and what their intentions are. Keep yourself safe and browse the internet with comfort by using a VPN while on public WIFI.
Disable Siri, Notifications, and Control Center on Lock Screen
You’d be surprised at how much information someone can access from your phone, even when it’s locked. Think of all of the notifications you get in a day: texts from loved ones, 2 factor authentication codes, the possibilities are endless. If notifications on the lock screen are enabled, anyone who has your phone or can see your screen now has access to the codes to any information they can see on screen.
The “reply from lock screen” feature allows you to respond to a text even if your phone is locked. While it may seem like a helpful feature, it can do more harm than good. For example, if someone gets ahold of your phone and texts one of your contacts asking for personal info, one of your contacts may think it’s you reaching out and could possibly share personal data. We want to prevent that from happening by disabling this feature.
Siri is a great tool to use to get things done in a hands-free way. Siri voice commands allow you to ask questions, send texts, and make calls, among other things. However, when enabled on the lock screen, anyone can use these features even when your phone is locked. Turning Siri off for the lock screen prevents others from being able to do those things and getting sensitive information from Siri.
Control Center is an amazing menu on your phone that can provide helpful tools like the camera, flashlight, bluetooth connection, and airdrop without even unlocking your phone. Depending on your widgets, anyone who has your phone can get access to some of your features and info like your camera, bluetooth, wifi networks, and more. Turning off the control center on the lock screen can prevent prying eyes from accessing these important settings and will keep your phone protected.
To Disable all of these features on the lock screen, go to: Settings > Face ID/Touch ID and Passcode > Allow Access When Locked > and untoggle anything you want to remove from the lock screen.
Keep Location Services Off
Not a fan of being tracked? You can easily control which apps have access to your location by editing your location services settings. To do this,
go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services. You can toggle these location services both on and off, or set specific settings for each individual app. When location services are enabled, in this menu, a list will appear with all applications on your phone. You can choose how and when locations are accessed for each, including: “never,” “ask next time,” and “while using the app.”
Additional options for sharing location include sharing approximate location or precise location. Approximate location is a general location taken as a large circular approximation of the area you’re in, with a few miles in diameter. Precise location is the opposite – it shares exactly where you are in that moment. Following the same steps above, you can set your preferences for each app. Each app menu will have an option to share “precise location” that you can toggle on or off. Please note that apps that you grant location sharing access to are defaulted to sharing precise location, so be sure to check it over in case you’d prefer to share an approximate location instead.
Prepare Your Phone for the Unexpected
As much as I would love to say your phone will always be on you, accidents happen. As you know, phones can easily be lost and can also be stolen. This is why it’s so important to prepare for situations like this so that you can protect your data if they were to occur.
First, turn on “Find My iPhone.” If your phone is lost or stolen, this feature provides a way for you to locate your phone with ease. Additionally, it allows you to remotely erase your device so nobody has access to it if someone happens to get their hands on it. To do this, go to Settings > Apple ID > Find My > Find My iPhone > On.
Aside from remote erasing, you can also enable a feature to erase your phone after 10 failed login attempts. This is a helpful feature for those who don’t have Find My iPhone enabled for some reason, but would still like to protect their data from being accessed in unexpected situations. To do this, go to settings > Touch ID/Face ID & Passcode > Erase Data and turn it on. When enabled, the iPhone will be completely wiped after 10 failed login attempts.
If remote erasing concerns you a bit, don’t fret. By enabling iCloud backup, your data will backup regularly when your iPhone is locked, connected to a power source, and on WIFI. To turn on iCloud backup, go to Settings > iCloud > iCloud backup. As a result, your phone will backup to a connected iCloud account. If you’re not yet a part of iCloud, try it out! Each iCloud account gets 5GB of free storage to use.
Turn On Automatic Updates
Unsure if you want to commit to all of the other security tips? Turning on automatic updates is the easiest way to ensure your phone stays protected. Aside from new versions of iOS (the major jumps from one version to the next), there are smaller updates that are known as being security updates. These updates are crucial – if
Apple is putting out an update, it’s for a good reason.
Security updates happen frequently, but keeping your phone up to date with them ensures that your phone is as secure as possible. By enabling automatic updates, these updates will install as soon as they are available with no effort on your end. All automatic updates will install and update overnight when your phone is connected to WIFI and plugged into a power source. To turn on this feature, go to: Settings > General > Updates > Automatic Updates.
By following the above five tips, you’ll be on your way to using your phone safely and protecting your data always. If you allow your kids to use your phone, I also recommend our last installment of this series: Protect…Your Kids Online. Apple recently announced new child safety features that are pretty controversial in tech circles, but it’s never a bad idea to get your kids protected in advance. Next week, we’ll continue the series by diving into ways you can protect your email.