- Learn how to create strong passwords on your iPhone and keep your iPhone safe from hackers.
- How to update your iPhone, use Touch ID and Face ID to help protect personal data.
- How to use Find My iPhone and automatically erase data if your iPhone is stolen.
Your iPhone is a treasure trove of personal information. If stolen or hacked, you can be left vulnerable to identity fraud and financial loss. The good news is that there are several easy steps you can take to protect your iPhone – from choosing strong passwords on an iPhone to taking care when connecting to public wifi.
1. Keep your iPhone software updated
With each new version of iOS, system vulnerabilities are patched and security improved, so make sure you install the latest version when available, including smaller point updates. To check that you’re running the newest version of Apple’s iOS, open the Settings app and tap General > Software Update. If you’re not up-to-date, you’ll be prompted to download and install the newest version.
2. Set secure passwords on an iPhone
Losing your iPhone can have severe consequences if criminals can access all the personal information it stores. Lock your iPhone with a super secure passcode. For iOS, tap Settings > Passcode or Touch ID & Passcode or Face ID & Passcode, if your iPhone or iPad is Touch ID or Face ID-ready. Use a long 6-digit password on an iPhone rather than the default 4-digit passcode.
3. Use Touch ID or Face ID instead of passwords on an iPhone
If your iPhone supports Apple’s Touch ID or Face ID, be sure to use them as alternatives to creating passwords on an iPhone. Requiring your fingerprint or a scan of your face to unlock your iPhone offers stronger security than a passcode that can be hacked with software or guessed given enough time.
4. Activate Find My iPhone to find stolen iPhones
Turning on Find My iPhone is another helpful way to stop your phone falling into the wrong hands. If you lose your iPhone, you can log onto the Find My iPhone app on another Apple device or by logging onto icloud.com in a web browser. If using Family Sharing, one family member can locate another’s missing iPhone using their Apple ID if it’s associated with the family account. You’ll be able to see the phone’s whereabouts and, more importantly, remotely wipe your data so even if a thief has your iPhone they won’t have access to your personal information.
5. Automatically wipe data following incorrect password attempts
If you are worried about people guessing your passcode, you can set your iPhone to erase all data after 10 failed passcode attempts. This is a bit of a scary option that you shouldn’t adopt lightly because if you or anyone else enters the wrong passcode ten times, all your data is permanently wiped from the iPhone. To activate this, open the Settings app and tap Touch ID & Passcode or Face ID & Passcode. Enter your passcode to continue. Then tap Erase Data and Toggle on Erase Data, then tap Enable to confirm.
If using this feature, turn on automatic iCloud backup so that even if all your data is erased from the iPhone, it will still be available in the cloud.
6. Disable lock screen options
Even when your iPhone is locked, iOS’s use of lock screen widget may still allow a thief to harvest some personal information. While seeing your calendar or text messages, or accessing your wallet or camera is handy, it does allow someone else some access to your phone. To turn off or control lock-screen widgets, open your Settings app and tap Touch ID & Passcode or Face ID & Passcode. Enter your passcode, scroll to the bottom of the screen and toggle off the widgets you don’t want access to on the lock screen.
7. Be cautious with app privacy settings
Stick to Apple’s App store when it comes to downloading apps to your iPhone. It provides a provide a secure, vetted environment, so you’re less likely to download a dangerous app.
Before you download an app, read user reviews and ratings, and check what permissions it requires such as access to your camera, location or contact list. In general, app permissions may threaten your privacy, but a malicious app can pose a security threat if it has full access to your iPhone.
Want to stay secure when using social media? Read our guide to keeping safe when using social media sites.
8. Don’t click unknown or suspect links in email
Don’t click on hidden or unknown links that you receive in emails, texts, instant messages or on webpages – these may trick you into entering personal information and sensitive financial details. Never click on a link from an email or text that says it comes from your bank, building society or online payment service. Check that the email is genuine by calling the organisation using a number you have received from them in a letter or paperwork or directly type their web address into your web browser and log on that way.
9. Set up two-factor authentication
Your Apple ID is the most important account you have on your iPhone. A hacker who gets access to this can control your email, contacts, calendars, photos, text messages, payment details and more. Setting up two-factor authentication – also known as 2FA – provides an extra layer of security for your Apple ID. Two-factor authentication ensures that you’re the only person who can access your Apple ID account, even if someone else has managed to crack your passcode.
To set up two-factor authentication open the Settings app and tap your name. Then tap Password & Security and “Turn on Two-Factor Authentication” and follow the prompts.
10. Be careful connecting to public wifi
Public wifi is a great way to stay connected to the internet when out and about, but public wifi may pose a security threat. It’s easy for hackers and criminals to set up a wifi network, especially in public areas such as shopping centres, train stations and airports. These networks may look genuine with similar names to other businesses in the vicinity but once connected, malware may be downloaded to your iPhone so personal information such as passwords and account details can be harvested. There’s plenty you can do to stay safe when using wifi away from home – here are ten top tips to stay secure when using public wifi.