In today's digitized age, all of our personal information from our banking details to our contacts is stored on our phones. Having this sensitive data in one device makes your information more prone to cyber theft and hacking. Companies like Apple take extra precautions to ensure that their customers' data is protected but there is no reason why you shouldn’t take some extra precautions.
There are many different ways hackers can get access to your personal data -- even using public WiFi or downloading certain apps can expose you. Thankfully, there are also numerous ways to protect your data from theft. Here are the top tips recommended by experts to protect your iPhone.
Enable 'Find my iPhone'
Apple has a "Find my iPhone" app which helps locate your phone if it gets lost or stolen. The app lets you remotely delete your data so that no one can access the information on your device. You can log into your iCloud account and wipe the data so that the hacker has no way of stealing it.
If your iPhone is switched off, you can also program the phone to wipe itself the next time it is connected to WiFi. Make sure that the Find my iPhone feature is enabled on your device so that you are able to wipe it clean.
Enable The Data Protection Feature
To ensure that its customers' devices are secure, Apple offers a data protection feature. Like the Find my iPhone feature, it helps ensure that data on the phone is erased should your phone get stolen or lost. If anyone has ten failed attempts at entering the right password, the phone automatically erases itself.
Many people don’t activate this feature in fear of forgetting their password and accidentally erasing their data. To avoid such a situation, you should make sure to sync your device to the iCloud so that even if you forget the password, you are able to retrieve it from your iCloud account.
Create A Strong Password
One of the most fool-proof ways to protect your data is to set a strong password. Experts recommend that you set an alphanumeric password for better protection. Many people find it a hassle to remember complicated passwords but it is the best way to protect your device from cybertheft.
Hackers have access to tools that can help them detect your password so it is essential that you use long passwords. In addition to a long password, you can also make use of the Touch ID and facial recognition features on the iPhone.
Encrypt Your Backup
It is important to back up all the data on your phone to the iCloud so that you are able to wipe your data but still have access to the information. However, when syncing your data, you also need to ensure that the backup is encrypted. This provides greater security.
Encryption of your data can be done through iTunes. However, if you enable the encryption feature on your account, you can back this data as well. Additionally, you can also download an encryption app to protect your information.
Update Your iOS
We frequently get notifications asking to update our phone to the latest iOS. In the newest version, Apple fixes bugs and modifies the security of the operating system. This includes "dot" updates that are not visible to the user. Apple does this with the help of hackers who are employed by the company to find loopholes in the system that need to be fixed.
In order to ensure that your data is protected from theft, it is important to update your device to the latest and safest version of the iOS.
Disable Siri On The Lock Screen
Even with a strong lock screen password, hackers can find ways to break into your phone. This is often done with the help of Siri, which has helped people gain access to sensitive information. While Siri may be a useful tool, it can also make your device more prone to data theft.
Siri requires verification before accessing data like photos or contacts but hackers have found a way around this. Therefore, to ensure your data is protected from theft, you should disable Siri on the lock screen even if it may be convenient.
Turn Off Auto-Fill
One of Apple's features is the auto-fill option which remembers data entered on different apps and websites. While this is convenient, it can also make your data prone to theft should you lose your phone. If your password is auto-filled, then a hacker can access all your personal information once they unlock your phone.
Therefore, no matter how useful it may be, it is important to turn-off the auto-fill option on your phone. To do this, you need to go to 'Settings’ and then Safari and toggle the auto-fill option. This may be hard to get used to at first but it is worth it in the long-run.
Use Trust-Worthy Charge Stations
Charging stations are now everywhere, from cafes to airports and malls. These stations are quite useful when you are low on battery power but they can are not always safe. The cables used in these phones can transmit your data externally and expose your personal data. Additionally, if there is a juice-jacking station, a hacker can access your data remotely.
In order to protect your data, you should only use trustworthy charge stations. You can even buy a data blocking charge cable when charging your phone in public places. Many people also opt for a power bank so that they don't need to use public charging stations at all.
Turn On Two-Factor Authentication
If your device is synced to your iCloud account, experts recommend that you have two-factor authentication enabled. This provides users with extra protection for their devices. When you turn on two-factor authentication, you need to add a trusted device that will receive a pin code via SMS or "Find my iPhone" every time you access data on your phone.
This means that if your data is accessed by a hacker, the PIN code will be sent to your trusted device and they are unable to access information without this code. You can use two-factor authentication for iCloud, buying books, or in-App purchases.
Don't Jailbreak Your Phone
Jailbreaking (removing software restrictions) is a technique that many people use to access apps that are not available on the App Store or are restricted from iPhone owners. While this might sound enticing, experts recommend that you never jailbreak your device. This is because jailbreaking your phone also exposes it to malware and theft. You will be in danger of downloading unscreened applications.
Jailbreaking your phone also affects the security system designed by Apple, making it more prone to data theft. In this case, if there is any damage to your phone, the warranty will not apply and Apple will not be able to help you.
Don't Use Public WiFi
One of the easiest ways for a hacker to get into your phone is through public WiFi. When doing things like paying bills or checking your bank balance, experts recommend that you refrain from using public WiFi. With an open network, it is easy for hackers to get access to your personal data.
Additionally, when you set your network preferences to auto-join WiFi networks, it makes it easier for cybercriminals to access your phone from a remote location. Hence, it is important to toggle off the auto-join option so that cyber thieves are unable to use the same service set identifier (SSID) to access your information.
In order to ensure that the data on your phone is secure, it would be ideal to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). This is a high-tech software the protects the information on your phone and provides an added layer of security so you can use your phone with no danger of getting hacked.
With a VPN, you will have private access to the web. The VPN conceals your IP address, making it impossible for a hacker to track your movements online. No one can access the data without the original encryption. You can download a VPN app on your iPhone.
Turn Off Automatic Sync To iCloud
When we hear of people getting hacked, the cybercriminal usually gains access to the victim's personal data through their iCloud account. While you may think that deleting pictures or sensitive information off your phone is enough, the data is still stored in your iCloud account.
Even when the data is deleted locally, it still syncs with the iCloud where the data remains. This is the case with almost everything on your phone, including messages, contacts, notes, and pictures. Hence, experts recommend that you turn off auto-sync. It would be better to set a reminder and sync the data once a week.
Turn Off Browser Cookies
Every website you visit generates cookies, which are small files that are stored on your device. These files contain information about your browsing activity, like your preferences, and help websites track your data and show you relevant content.
While this is useful for companies, browser cookies also allow cybercriminals to gain access to your personal information like your login data and bank passwords. Experts recommend that you turn off your browser cookies to ensure that your data is secure. You can change your preferences in the 'Privacy and Security' section in Settings.
Don't Let Apps Access Your Personal Data
In iOS 8, there are many apps on your phone that can access personal data like your contacts, messages, and even your location. Enabling these features is perfectly fine for secure apps but there are some third-party apps that can expose your data to hackers.
For example, when downloading a keyboard from a third-party app, you need to provide access to everything you type on your phone. If you are not comfortable with providing this information then you should toggle off this access feature in your Settings.
Be Cautious Of Phishing Scams
Many of us have been victims of phishing scams at some point in our lives and it is one of the easiest ways for hackers to gain access to your personal information. When you click on a link in a scammy email, it downloads software on your phone that gives the hacker access to your personal information.
A few ways to avoid phishing is to only click on links that are secure and if you receive a text from an unknown number, you can preview the message but if it includes suspicious links then you should delete it. Additionally, when entering data on a website, make sure it’s secure.
Protect Your SIM Card
Experts recommend that you put a PIN on your SIM card so that even if hackers get access to your device, they will not be able to use the SIM without the code. Additionally, they won't be able to use your SIM on another unlocked device.
If you don’t lock your SIM, the hacker can put your SIM in another phone and request an SMS code to reset the passwords on your personal accounts. They can do this even with two-factor authentication is enabled on your phone. Hence, make sure to create a passcode for your SIM.
Use Fewer Apps
When you have a lot of storage space on your phone you may be tempted to download a lot of apps. However, experts recommend that you keep your app usage to a minimum. When you no longer need an app, you should delete it off your phone to ensure that your data is secure.
This is because many apps track your movements and collect information about you. This makes you more prone to attacks by cybercriminals as your data is exposed. Any additional apps on your phone only increase your chances of being hacked.
Use A Password Manager
One of the best ways to protect your data is to create a strong password. If you find it challenging to come up with a strong password, thankfully, there are numerous apps that can help you do this. You can download a password manager that can help you create a password that is not commonly used on the internet.
Weak passwords make it easier for cybercriminals to hack you. Additionally, you can also use your iCloud keychain to help you generate a password. This keychain stores your password so that you don't have to remember it in the future.
Be Cautious Of Permissions
When we download apps on our phone or visit websites, we are often asked to grant certain permissions. While this helps the companies gain valuable information, it also exposes us to cybercriminals on the dark web. The hacker can install malware on your phone from within the apps.
While it is okay to grant permission for some apps, you need to ensure that the app is secure and legitimate. If you have any doubts about the validity of an app, you can contact the developer for more information before you give them the appropriate permissions.