Most people buy an iPhone or iPad because they believe them to be more secure. However, these days there are plenty of dangers associated with Mac products. Apps have been found on the iTunes store that contain malware, ransomware has been used to attack iOS devices, and there are plenty of forms of spyware and malware now attacking the platform. In addition, evidence has emerged that the CIA holds an annual Jamboree to brainstorm ways of hacking iPhones and iPads.
These are important considerations that mean iOS users need to be much more aware of digital privacy and security than they had to be when iPhones were first released back in 2007.
In addition, the latest iOS (iOS 10) has a number of settings that need to be secured – preferably before consumers begin using their smartphone device.
Here at BestVPN.com we care deeply about digital privacy, so we have made this handy guide to walk you through every single one of the problematic settings. Following this guide will vastly improve the security of your device, so please be sure to act on every single point!
How to Set up Your Lock Screen Passcode
The first thing you need to do (if you haven’t already) is to set a passcode for when your screen locks. This feature allows you to use the device’s full disk encryption. This is an excellent feature that stops anybody from being able to access the contents of your device.
In the San Bernardino case, it was proven that it is indeed possible to hack a four digit passcode. For that reason, those who desire the very best levels of security should consider setting a six (or even higher) digit code. This will make it infinitely harder to hack into the device, should it fall into the wrong hands.
To set a password, go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode. If you already have a passcode, then enter it and update it to a longer code. If you haven’t set one at all, first select Turn Passcode On, and then select Passcode Options.
Here you can decide to opt for:
- A custom alphanumeric (letters and numbers)
- A numeric code (a sequence of numbers)
- The standard, old school, four-digit numeric code
If you do opt for a more difficult password, please make sure the code is something that you can remember, as you don’t want to lock yourself out of your own phone!
How to Set up Two Factor Authentication
Two factor authentication is one of the best security setting available nowadays, so please remember to use it on your Apple ID. It really is the best method for denying hackers the ability to access your Apple ID account – and considering it holds your payment details, two factor auth is a must!
Using it will require a code to be sent to your device before you can access your account. This stops people from logging into your account even if they have your username and password. Setting up two factor authentication is easy:
- Navigate to the Apple ID settings page using a computer and click on “Manage your Apple ID.”
- Log in to your Apple ID account using your username and password.
- On the left of the screen, click on “Password and Security.”
- Click on “Get started” to set up two factor authentication.
- Read through the guidelines and accept them.
- Add a device with which you want to receive the four-digit authorization code.
- If you have a separate iCould account and App Store ID, you will have to use SMS to receive the code.
- Write down your recovery key somewhere that you will never lose it, as this will allow you to regain entry should you lose the device set up for two factor auth. One excellent reason to use SMS is that even if you lose the phone, it is usually possible to get a new SIM card with your old phone number by going to your phone contract provider.
- Finally, you will be asked to agree to the consequences of enabling two factor auth.
How to Disable the Fingerprint Scanner
Biometrics might be the latest trend, but there are plenty of reasons not to use this kind of phone lock. In the US, evidence has surfaced of people being forced by police to put their fingers on their phone. This is unfair, but can be pretty easily accomplished without having to resort to too much excessive force.
In addition, people who fall asleep near their phone may be easily made to put their thumb on the screen, giving a thief, family member, or any other person who decides to exploit the sleeping person’s vulnerability, the ability to get into the phone. Once inside the phone, not only can they access all your personal data, but they can also reset the password to a code that they know, giving them full, unconditional access to the device.
Another possibility is that you fall ill or are in a grievous accident and end up in a coma. At the end of the day, it is impossible to tell what might happen and your fingers are an extremity that can easily give people access to your phone. For this reason, if you value your privacy you should disable this feature! To do so follow these steps:
- Go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode.
- Disable the Phone Unlock setting that you set up with your fingerprint.
How to Disable the “Today” Feature
On the latest version of iOS, when you look on your iPhone’s screen it displays information about your day even when it is locked. This is somewhat unnecessary and seems to be counterintuitive for security and privacy reasons. After all, we lock our phones so that people can’t see things about us.
To disable the insecure widget, simply follow these steps:
- Swipe to the right on the home screen (to access the Today menu).
- Scroll to the bottom of the Today menu and select edit.
- Remove each panel as necessary to make sure you won’t reveal anything (that you don’t wish to) when the phone is locked.
How to Update Your Notifications Settings
Like the Today feature, notifications will automatically show up on the lock screen. If this undesirable, you can stop those notification from appearing altogether on your locked screen. Alternatively, you can limit how much it shows (such as just seeing who the message is from).
- Navigate to Settings > Notifications.
- One by one, select Messages and Mail for text messages, iMessages and email.
- From each one, alter the preview style. For the best privacy available, disable Show Previews to stop them ever appearing on the locked screen.
How to Turn Off All Home Screen Features
For anybody who isn’t interested in having any Today features whatsoever, it is possible to disable the entire widget. To do so, simply navigate to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode, and scroll down to see what has access on the lock screen. To be most secure, it is better to switch the majority off. Available for you to decide are: the Today view, wallet access, Siri (which you can leave on if you wish), notifications, and Home Control (a brand new feature on iOS 10).
How to Disable Your iPhone’s Ability to Track You
iPhones have a setting called “frequent locations,” which keeps tabs on where you go. Not only does it keep a record of where you go, but it also keeps a record of how long you were there. This is a highly invasive feature, because the data paints a very clear picture of your daily habits.
To stop your iPhone from keeping tabs on your every move do this:
- Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services and then Frequent Locations.
- Now turn the option Off. In addition, press the Clear History button to make your history of frequent visits disappear.
How to Require Password for Additional Purchases on This Device?
This feature should be enabled, because it stops people (for example, children who are using your phone to play a game) from buying apps for your iPhone or iPad without your permission.
Once you have purchased an app, it isn’t always possible to get a refund. There have even been cases of people purchasing an app in their pocket by accident. This can all be avoided by simply requiring a password to be entered when making an app purchase.
When asked the question above, please make sure you click Always Require, as this will save you from any heartache later on.
How to Turn Off Geo-location Tracking Permissions for Apps
Nowadays, if given the chance, apps will use the geolocation feature of your iPhone. Disabling this feature couldn’t be easier, and will stop apps from knowing where you are – including at times when you aren’t actually using the app. Simply select Don’t Allow when prompted with the question: “Allow [App name] to access your location while you use the app?”
Remember, you will need to do this for every individual app. Also, bear in mind that for some apps – such as Pokemon Go – geo-location is a necessary feature (which is one of the reasons why it is such a security nightmare).
How to Stop Apps from Uploading Your Data
Your phone is full of personal data about you, including your contacts, email address, photos, and calendar. Oftentimes, when you download apps, they will ask for permission to access this data. Sometimes this should mean not downloading the app at all for security reasons.
On other occasions, the app will ask you permission to do access your data the very first time it goes to do so. Simply click Don’t Allow when it does.
To stop apps from siphoning off your data against your will, if you have accidentally given them permission to do so, simply alter each app’s permissions by going to Settings > Privacy. Select each of the data definitions (such as Contacts), and revoke the privileges for any apps that you wish.
Sadly, any data previously collected by the app is already on the firm’s servers. Having that data deleted will involve contacting the firm directly. For that reason, stopping the app from having those permissions from the beginning of time is far more preferable.
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How to Turn on the ‘Find My iPhone’ Feature
If you don’t turn on this feature and then lose your phone, you will be very angry with yourself. The excellent feature allows people not only to track where their phone is, but also to get the police involved in cases where they are struggling to get the phone back.
To enable this awesome feature so that it will show you your phone’s location when it is lost:
- Go to Settings > iCloud > Find My iPhone and switch it on. The same goes for iPads.
- In addition, there is a feature called Send Last Location. Turn it on, because it forces your iPhone to update Apple’s servers with the device’s last location just before the power runs out.
How to Set up Automatic Expiration Times for iMessages
On iOS 10 it is possible to send voice and video messages via the iMessages app. Sadly, these messages are stored on the phone. This wastes memory space and is a security risk – because they could later be accessed. To remove this risk, it is possible to ask your iPhone to periodically delete those messages. To do so follow these steps:
- Navigate to Settings > Messages > Keep Messages, and select the length of time that you wish your messages to remain on your device.
- Remember to check Audio Messages and Video Messages, as these both offer shorter save time periods.
A VPN for iOS
With all of your iPhone’s settings securely updated, the only thing that you must do (to completely secure your device) is to subscribe to a Virtual Private Network. A VPN protects all the data coming and going from an iPhone with strong encryption, so that nobody (not your ISP, the government, landlords, workplaces, or even hackers on public WiFi) is able to access your traffic.
To see the best VPNs for an iPhone and all iOS devices, check out our 5 best VPNs for iPhone list, which explains everything you need to know about why a VPN is by far the best digital privacy service available for all iOS devices.
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