Optimizing IOS Privacy
Former FBI Director James Comey complained to the Senate Judiciary Committee recently about IOS security. Trying to bypass iPhone security safeguards to access encryption data was like running into an impenetrable wall, Comey said. But the fact the Bureau was still able to hack half the phones illustrates that there is a risk if you don’t have your iPhone configured correctly. Here are some tips for how for optimizing iOS privacy and security settings.
Enable Passcode Lock and Disable Bypass Features
The most fundamental privacy and security step you should take is going into your general settings to enable passcode lock, says security provider McAfee. Passcodes are four digits by default. Avoid common passcodes such as 1234, 0000 or 5683, and instead choose a harder number to guess. Setting auto-lock timeout and enabling erase data will make it harder for a thief to try to guess your code by brute force.
If you enable Touch ID, you can enter a longer six-code passcode and then use Touch ID as a shortcut instead of having to type it in every time. However, your passcode must still be used when you first turn on your phone and in certain other circumstances, as Apple explains in its online security manual. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus still include embedded Touch ID, though it’s uncertain how iPhone 8 will handle this feature.
To use your passcode effectively, you should disable features that can be used to bypass it. These include voice dial, found under the settings for your passcode lock’s voice control, and SMS preview, found under your settings for messages.
Disable Built-in Sensitive Data Storage Features
There are also certain features built into the design of the iPhone to track your activity that you should disable to optimize your privacy and security. You can disable your keyboard cache, which normally stores your keystrokes for up to a year, if you go under your general settings and choose the reset option. You should also disable your camera’s geotagging feature under your settings for location services.
The iPhone takes an automatic screenshot each time you tap your Home button, so avoid tapping it when looking at sensitive information. You can disable this feature if you jailbreak your phone, however this isn’t generally recommended.
Keep Your Firmware Updated
Your iOS device includes embedded operating system firmware. Apple updates this regularly to incorporate security updates, so you should make sure you have the current firmware version. You can check your device’s firmware version under the About section of your general settings. You can receive firmware update prompts by plugging your device into a computer running iTunes and launching iTunes. You can also keep track of firmware update announcements by following Apple’s @appleios Twitter feed.
Enable Safari Privacy and Security Settings
Your iPhone’s Safari browser has some privacy and security settings you can access under your settings for Safari. You should enable Block Pop-ups and Fraud Warning. You should also disable AutoFill for Use Contact Info and Names & Passwords.
After viewing any sensitive information, be sure to clear your history, cookies and cache. You should also go under your setting for Safari databases to delete any databases you don’t want saved.
Use Wireless and Email Wisely
Cyberthieves can try to use your phone’s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections to steal data. To prevent this, when you’re not using Bluetooth, go under your general settings for Bluetooth and turn it off. Likewise, when not using Wi-Fi, go under your general settings for Wi-Fi, then tap the blue arrow next to each previously associated network SSID and tap to Forget This Network.
For email, it’s important to protect your contact list. To do this, go under the settings for Mail, Contact, Calendars. Then select an active mail account, tap on Advanced and turn on the SSN option.
Enable Find My iPhone
In the event your iPhone gets lost or stolen, you should have the Find My iPhone app enabled. To do this, launch AppStore and download the free Find My iPhone app. Then go under the settings for Mail, Contact, Calendars under Accounts and add a MobileMe account. You can then log into the MobileMe account with your Apple ID and password and turn the Find My iPhone setting on. Finally, go to the installed app and log in with your Apple ID and password. You will then be able to track your device through the MobileMe website if you ever need to find your phone. You will also be able to display messages to contact you on your phone, play sounds and remote wipe your data if needed.