Top 5 simple security tips: How to increase data protection and privacy!

How to master iOS security: Top 5 tips to soup-up safety, protect privacy, and stop spying on your iPhone!

Become an iOS security ninja with these killer shortcuts and time-savers for locking things down!

Security is one of the most important, yet oft-neglected facets of modern mobile life. Whether you're using an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, your entire life, and a lot of your friends', families', and associates' lives, are right there on your device. From contact information to location data, messages to photos and video, website logins to payment methods, if someone gains access to your device, and your stuff, it can make that life, those lives, annoying at best, catastrophic at worst. Adding security does require more time and effort than going without, but nowhere nearly as much time and effort as it takes to recover after your stuff is spied, stolen, or otherwise violated. It's security week on Talk Mobile, so while you probably already know the basics, we're going to share the very best of the tough stuff!

1. How to use a strong(er) Passcode lock

How to use a strong(er) Passcode lock

If you're not using a Passcode lock on your iPhone, you absolutely should. Not only does it protect your iPhone from casual snooping - or from people tweeting "poopin" the minute you leave it unattended - it prevents thieves from getting your data, and enables hardware encryption to make sure all your stuff is safe. While the basic 4-number pin offers that base-level of protection, there just aren't enough 4 number variations to keep your stuff really safe. For that you need a stronger Passcode. If an alphanumeric password is too annoying for you to enter on mobile, you can turn it on anyway, enter a longer (than 4) set of numbers, and get some of the benefits without making it overly arduous to enter.

2. How to keep stuff off your Lock screen

How to keep stuff off your Lock screen

What good is a super-strong Passcode lock if anyone and everyone can see your messages, Notification Center alerts, and use Siri or Passbook right from your Lock screen. Sure, it's incredibly convenient to be able to glance at incoming messages and quickly add things to Reminders or Notes, but for those times when you don't think you can safely leave your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad lying around without people snooping, remember you can turn all that Lock screen stuff off.

3. Turn on 2-step verification

Turn on 2-step verification

Security works best in layers, and defensive depth means having as many layers are possible. While there aren't any biometrics on iOS so "something you are" isn't possible - yet - in addition to the password's "something you know" you can add a token's "something you have". It's not full-on multi-factor authentication, but it is 2-step verification and, when it comes to security, 2 steps really are better than one. You will have to enter an app-specific password, or an additional pincode/password the first time you set up the service on your device, but it'll make it more than twice as strong for only a minimal amount of extra effort. Do it.

4. How to keep your web browsing, location, social and other data private

How to adjust privacy settings in the Facebook app for iPhone and iPad

Let's say you're not looking at porn - we don't judge! - but you still want to make sure cookies, web history, and other information about your browsing doesn't get recorded and tracked across the internet. Safari pioneered private browsing, so that's easy to do. But what about things like location data, contacts, and other sensitive information? What if you, intentionally or simply inattentively, gave access to all off that, and more, to other apps? No worries. Again, iOS makes it easy to review and change your privacy settings. So do many online services as well. Lastly, if you're on a network you don't trust, and have access to a VPN service, that can help keep your data private as well.

5. How to wipe web history and other data from your device

How to clear all website data from Safari on iPhone and iPad

If you didn't initially use Safari's private browsing, or you want to clear other personal, private, potentially embarrassing, compromising, or just plain awkward data on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, including messages, mail, photos, and more, you can. You even have the nuclear option of securely wiping your entire device, and killing old backups, so you can start over fresh, clean, and safe.

6. Bonus tip: Use a password manager

Best password manager apps for iPhone and iPad: 1Password, oneSafe, LastPass, and more!

Security is at constant war with convenience. Fortunately, in order to tip the scales slightly more towards convenience, there are password managers. Due to the lack of browser plugins on iOS, iPhone and iPad password managers aren't as well integrated as they are on Mac or Windows, but there are still many on the App Store to choose from.

Your top security tips?

Those are our top 5 tips for taking your iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad security to the next level! If you've got any other tips, or alternate ways to keep stuff safe on iOS, let us know!

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Top 5 simple security tips: How to increase data protection and privacy!

9 Comments

If you backup your iPhone with iTunes (I use both iCloud and iTunes) be sure to encrypt the backup. Not only does it protect the phone data on your computer, the backup contains more stuff than the unencrypted backup does.

Except that, when I've done that in the past 1, all hell broke loose and the password wasn't accepted; I wasn't able to restore and no technician could help me except to say, "don't encrpyt the backup!" Has it been fixed recently?!

My phone is in my pocket when not in use. When its charging its next to my head in bed. No pass codes, no need. See? Secure. Why would u ever leave your phone unattended?

Sent from the iMore App

re: "...there just aren't enough 4 number variations to keep your stuff really safe."

I think 10,000 4-digit passcodes is enough "protection" for a device that requires manual password entry. In theory, the brute-force approach of trying all possible passcodes from 0000 to 9999 would take almost 14 hours by my math, so the average crack time would have worked out to roughly 7 hours of non-stop trying:

(10,000 codes x 5 seconds/code) / (60 sec/min) / 60 (min/hr) = 13.9 hours

But in practice a brute-force attack would take far longer on iOS 6. In Apple's words, "the iOS interface enforces escalating time delays after the entry of an invalid passcode at the Lock screen." And, if you turn on the Erase Data switch in Settings -> General -> Passcode Lock, 10 failed attempts will erase all of you iPhone's data. Here's an iOS security overview from Apple:

"iOS Security" - http://www.apple.com/ipad/business/docs/iOS_Security_Oct12.pdf

Also, it would be a very good idea to change the Require Passcode interval in settings as needed. Maybe 1 hour when you're at home, 1 minute or "Immediately" when you're on the move.

And it's easy to set a reminder to change your passcode. Create a location-based reminder that alerts you when you leave your home, office, wherever you feel "safe."

You know what would be "magical"? If my smart phone could somehow know when im at home so it wont prompt me to enter my passcode whenever i unlock it. Oh wait a minute... I can already do that with my jailbroken iPhone with a tweak called "autoprotect". Whenever my phone detects my home wifi signal, it wont ask me to enter a passcode. If im out of range; for instance, at the mall or at the nude bar getting a lap dance, i will need to enter my passcode to use my phone. Apple should take note and implement this simple yet ingenious idea into iOs 7.

All I want is an app (or feature preferably) that allows you to enable you to password protect your text messages like android has...can't be that hard.