As an iPhone user, you normally don’t have to worry about cybersecurity threats since Apple takes security pretty seriously. Sure, there have been a few hiccups here and there – like iPhone 11 shipping out with a confirmed vulnerability, or hackers working overtime to specifically target iPhone users with malware.
Despite that, iPhones continue to be some of the most secure smartphones on the market, with a really strong operating system backing them up.
Even so, there are plenty of things you can do to make your iPhone even more secure than it already is. We’ll take a look at nine of them in this quick six-minute article:
1. Ditch the 4-Digit PIN Code
It’s convenient because it’s so easy to remember, true. But guess what? It’s also easy for hackers to brute-force it.
Don’t forget – two years ago, a security researcher explained how GrayKey (a digital forensics tool used by US law enforcement agencies) can crack a standard six-digit passcode in around 11 hours. A four-digit code takes even less – anywhere between six and a half minutes and 13 minutes, to be exact.
Apparently, passcodes only became strong when they were over ten digits, and when they comprised random numbers.
So head over to Settings > Face ID & Passcode, enter your PIN code, and tap Passcode Options. The most secure option is Custom Alphanumeric Code, so pick that. Create a strong passcode that’s over ten digits, and you’re done.
2. Use a VPN When You’re Online
A VPN is an online service that hides your IP address and encrypts your traffic. Here’s a quick look at how it works:
- You install a VPN app on your iPhone and use it to connect to a VPN server.
- The two establish a secure connection. Any data that passes through it is encrypted end-to-end. That means only the app and server can decrypt the traffic.
- From then on, when you visit a site, your connection requests go through the VPN server. So the website will only see the server’s IP address. Your address remains hidden.
VPNs are excellent iPhone security tools for when you browse public WiFi. Without a VPN, weak network encryption (or no encryption at all) could put all your personal and financial data in danger.
What’s more, hackers could trick your iPhone into connecting to a fake network. Without a VPN to encrypt your data, they’d be able to monitor all your online communications.
If you need help finding a great iPhone VPN, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of VPNs that are ideal for iOS from ProPrivacy. It has all the information you need to find the right service for you.
3. Enable 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication)
2FA is an excellent way to protect your iPhone data. Here’s how it works – besides having to log in with your username and password, you also have to type in a randomly generated authentication code that’s sent to a device you’ve chosen.
So even if a hacker gets their hands on your iCloud username and password, they can’t compromise your account.
Sadly, even though 2FA is extremely useful, not a lot of people use it. In fact, according to research, less than one-third of people use 2FA.
So our advice to you is head over to Settings, tap your name at the top of the screen, and tap Password & Security. Then, pick Two-Factor Authentication, and set it up.
You can also go the extra mile and set up a Recovery Key. Just store it somewhere safe. Without it or another device signed into your Apple ID, you won’t be able to reset your password.
4. Install Anti-Virus Protection
If you accidentally expose your iPhone to malware, the only way you can keep it safe is with antivirus software. Unfortunately, iPhones don’t exactly have built-in anti-malware protection, so you’ll need third-party help.
And no, you can’t just rely on a VPN to get the job done. Those tools aren’t designed to prevent malware infections. They can only protect your web traffic from surveillance and, sometimes, MITM attacks.
So make sure you install security programs like Avira Mobile Security or Norton Mobile Security.
IMPORTANT: Anti-virus and anti-malware programs are the same thing. It’s confusing, we know, but just remember that a virus is a type of malware.
5. Use Brute-Force Protection
This is a very useful feature if your iPhone ends up in the wrong hands. Which, let’s face it, can easily happen if you accidentally drop it on the street one night when you come home too tipsy.
If someone finds your smartphone, they could try to brute-force your passcode. If you didn’t follow our first advice, and it’s a four-digit PIN code, they’ll eventually guess it.
But if you turn on the Erase Data feature, this won’t be a problem. Basically, after ten failed passcode attempts, all the data on your iPhone will be wiped. A bit extreme, yes, but a necessary extra layer of protection.
Here’s how to enable this feature:
- Go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode
- Enter your current passcode.
- Scroll down until you see Erase Data and enable it.
6. Enable USB Restricted Mode
This is an extremely useful feature that keeps your device safe from malicious USB connections. Basically, it stops anyone from installing malware on your iPhone or stealing data via the USB charging port.
To turn on this feature, head to Settings > Face ID & Passcode, enter your PIN code, scroll down and make sure the USB Accessories setting is turned off.
7. Disable Bluetooth When You’re Not Using It
While Bluetooth is pretty convenient, it can also be problematic. Besides draining your battery, it can put your iPhone at risk if it’s left to run non-stop.
Because Bluetooth has tons of vulnerabilities. Some of them were patched (like BlueBorn and the KNOB attack), but security researchers just discovered a new type of impersonation attack.
Simply put, Bluetooth BR and EDR connections are vulnerable to an attack that would allow a malicious actor to impersonate a Bluetooth-enabled device your iPhone previously paired with. If successful, they could get direct access to your device.
So make sure you disable Bluetooth when not using it. To do that, go to Settings > Bluetooth, and turn it off.
8. Set a Quick Lock Screen Timeout
If your lock screen timeout is five minutes, someone who steals your iPhone has plenty of time to get into the device. The same goes if it’s set to the “never” option.
Ideally, you should configure your iPhone to require user authentication to unlock it after 30 seconds. Head to Settings > Display & Brightness > Auto-Lock to do that.
9. Last But Not Least – Enable Automatic Updates
An outdated operating system is a hacker’s best friend. They can easily abuse unpatched vulnerabilities to break into your device.
So make sure your iPhone’s automatic update feature is enabled. Here’s how to do that:
- Go to Settings > General > Software Update.
- Look for Automatic Updates.
- If it’s disabled, enable it.
What Other Security Measures Do You Take?
Do you take other steps or use other tools to make sure your iPhone is secure? If yes, please tell us about them in the comments.