Our iPhones can feel like an extension of who we are. They hold nearly everything important we have to manage in our daily lives, from our banking and financial information to our work emails and even our family photos and videos. 

Protecting your iPhone from threats is important because if it falls into the wrong hands or is hacked, you stand to lose quite a bit. 

The following is a guide to what you need to know about making sure your iPhone is as secure as possible. 

General Security Tips

The following are some general things to keep in mind for securing your phone

  • Use a strong password rather than a four-digit code. This is one of the simplest and most efficient ways to protect information on your phone. You should use a combination of letters, symbols, and digits for your passcode. If you can, try setting the password requirement so that it starts right after the lock screen, with no delay. You can also turn on the erase data feature as an additional option on your phone. This option will wipe everything from the device’s memory after ten failed attempts to enter the passcode. Of course, you have to be confident in your ability to remember your password if you use this option. 
  • Disable any lock-screen notifications. Even if you have a password on your device, it’s not going to protect it if there’s data on the lock screen itself. For example, your call logs, emails, and messages can show on your home screen without someone inputting a password. The less information you can show on your iPhone, the more secure your data is. 
  • You can register one or more of your devices that you trust to receive a four-digit code by SMS if you set up two-set verification. Having a lock on your device is good, but two locks are even better from a security standpoint. If you have the option for the iCloud and Apple ID to set up two-step verification, it’s advisable. Then any time you’re signing into your Apple ID, iTunes, iCloud, or iBooks, you have to verify your identity with your password and four-digit code. 
  • Turn Siri’s functionality off on your lock screen. This step can help reduce the risk of data exfiltration without someone having your passcode. 
  • Don’t use automatic syncing to iCloud. Nearly all your data is kept remotely through iCloud, including your notes, texts, and documents. Most data automatically sync unless you turn it off. 
  • Disable automatic Wi-Fi connections. Your iPhone will allow automated connections to known Wi-Fi hotspots, even if you don’t give permission. It’s helpful if you want to save on data, but you can simultaneously be compromising your data. Cybercriminals can set up a Wi-Fi network for data scraping, and you might not even notice. Turn off your device’s automatic connection. 
  • Don’t use the AutoFill function on your browser. Yes, AutoFill is incredibly convenient, but it can also be a security risk. If someone were to steal your phone, they could easily access all your information with AutoFill. 
  • If you want the highest level of security, you might install a virtual private network or VPN on your phone. A reliable VPN encrypts all your traffic, and you can also get access to geo-restricted content if you’re traveling. 

Built-In Security Features of the iPhone

Apple lists some of the built-in features of iPhones that users should take advantage of if they want to keep their data secure. 

Apple recommends the use of Face ID or Touch ID on supported models. You can use these forms of ID to authorize payments and purchases, sign in to third-party apps or unlock your phone. 

You can locate your device if it’s lost or stolen using the Find My iPhone feature. It keeps anyone else from activating and using your phone if it’s missing. 

You can review and adjust the data you share with apps you use, the location information you share, and how you receive advertising. 

Before you download an app, it’s important to read the privacy practices, and if you download an app, review the App Privacy Report. The App Privacy Report shows how apps use permissions you grant and their network activity. 

To protect your emails, you can use Mail Privacy Protection and the Hide My Email feature when you subscribe to iCloud+. Hide My Email lets you generate random and unique email addresses forward to your personal account. Then, you don’t have to share your email address when you’re signing up for things, filling out forms, or when you’re sending emails. 

If you subscribe to iCloud+, you can also use iCloud Private Relay. Private Relay prevents network providers and websites from creating detailed profiles about you. When you turn it on, the traffic that leaves your iPhone is encrypted and sent through two different internet relays. The outcome is that websites can’t see your IP address and location, and network providers aren’t able to collect your browsing activity. 

Protect Your iPhone From Hackers

It’s not super common for iPhones to get hacked, but it can happen. Some ways you can protect your device against a hack include:

  • Don’t click suspicious links. Just like your computer, your phone can be hacked if you click on a malicious link. You also want to try to avoid using free public Wi-Fi networks. 
  • Be careful about the apps you download. Apple devices have a more monitored ecosystem than Android devices, so the apps tend to be safer, but nothing is 100%. 
  • Don’t jailbreak your phone. Jailbreaking is when you take the software restrictions off iOS. You can download apps that aren’t in the App Store, but it’s also making you more vulnerable because you’re eliminating some of the security measures that Apple puts in place. You can download malware apps or incompatible spyware when you jailbreak your phone, and that’s how a remote takeover can happen. 
  • Keep your phone up to date. IOS software updates often include fixes for vulnerabilities that could otherwise leave you open to the risk of hacking. 
  • Some people are the victims of targeted hacks. Of course, the average person doesn’t have to worry about this because targeted hacks are expensive to carry out, but if you’re a journalist or you have a high-level job, you could be a target. Hackers can install malware on devices to get data from their targeted sources. These are sophisticated attacks, and you probably wouldn’t even realize it was happening. 
  • The thought of someone being able to see your private photos and videos in your iCloud account may create intense anxiety. It’s best to disable Photo Sharing on your iPhone, however. You can also back up photos on your computer and keep them off the cloud. 

The signs that your iPhone could have been hacked include dying frequently or feeling unusually hot. Your phone might seem sluggish when you try to load websites, or your battery could be draining without you even using the phone. 

These are signs that the phone’s running all the time, even when you aren’t using it. 

If you have a minor issue, like an app stealing your information, you can usually fix that problem by deleting it and then updating your software. In more difficult situations, you might have to restore your iPhone to factory settings, but you may still not know if the malware is totally off, especially if you have a jailbroken phone. 

What If Your Phone is Stolen?

If your phone is lost or stolen, there are certain things you can do. 

As soon as you realize it’s missing, you can try to find it using “Find My.” You can sign in to iCloud online and use the feature. 

You can also mark your iPhone as lost. When you do, it locks your phone with your passcode and disables Apple Pay. You can display a custom message with a number to reach you on the lock screen so that if someone finds it and they’re not trying to steal it, it’ll be easy for them to figure out how to return it. 

You can file a police report after you lose your device or think it’s stolen. Your carrier might actually require this if you make a replacement claim or an AppleCare+ claim. 

If your Apple Care+ plan includes Theft and Loss, you can file a claim for a replacement by Apple. 

If you can’t find your phone within a reasonable amount of time, or you can locate it with Find My you’ll have to remotely erase it. That will delete all your information from the device, including anything not backed up to iCloud. 

Too often, when considering iPhone security risks, people think it’ll never happen to them. The reality is that it can, and there are many things you can do proactively to keep everything on your phone safer and more secure, even if a bad situation arises. 

Also Read: 3 Best Ways How to Retrieve Deleted Text Messages on iPhone