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How to protect your iPhone from hackers
How to protect your iPhone from hackers
Our complete guide to iPhone security contains essential security tips for protecting your iPhone (and sensitive data) from the prying eyes of hackers. While Apple’s iOS system is pretty secure, there are plenty of ways to make sure that your iPhone is as secure from hackers as it can be
Welcome to our complete guide to iPhone security, where you’ll find essential tips to protect the sensitive data on your iPhone from the prying eyes of hackers.
If you have concerns about the safety of your private data on your iPhone, sensitive information including website logins, email addresses, text messages and even photos and videos, we have some tips to help you protect it.
While Apple’s iOS system is pretty secure, there are ways to make sure that your iPhone is as secure from hackers as it can be – and here is where we show you how.
Keep iOS up to date
Our first tip on securing your iPhone against potential hackers is a fairly simple one – make sure that you’re always running the most recent iteration of iOS, including smaller ‘dot’ updates.
Hackers occasionally find flaws in Apple’s coding which they can exploit, potentially giving them access to your personal data. New iOS updates are Apple’s way of combatting the exploits by patching any holes in the OS while implementing better stability enhancements.
To update to the latest version of iOS, open the Settings app and tap General > Software update. You’ll either be welcomed by a note letting you know you’re already running the most up to date version of iOS, or be prompted to download and install the latest update.
The latest version of iOS is iOS 12, but point updates for iOS 12 are regularly released so it’s important to keep an eye out for those. We track the latest updates to iOS 12 here, so you can be sure if there are any issues before updating.
For example, on 22 January 2019 Apple issued an important security update that addressed a number of vulnerabilities that could lead to iPhones and iPad being hacked, more information here: Apple updates Mac, iPhone and iPad due to security fears.
Activate Find my iPhone
Another step you can take in the war against hackers attacking your iPhone is to activate ‘Find my iPhone’.
If you lose your iPhone then you can log onto Find My iPhone from another iOS device or via the web and remotely wipe your device, taking your personal data with it.
This means that even if the hacker did manage to gain access to your lost/stolen device, they’d find nothing. To remotely wipe your iPhone, log in to the Find my iPhone app (or iCloud website), select your iPhone, tap ‘Erase iPhone’ and confirm the action. The next time it has an internet connection (if it doesn’t already) it’ll automatically wipe itself.
Create a longer passcode
There’s a hacking tool called GrayKey that can crack iPhone and iPad passwords and its being used by law-enforcement agencies.
Apparently the tool can crack a four-digit pinched in a couple of hours. A six-digit code can be cracked in a few days.
The device, which plugs into an iOS device, disables the usual passcode-retry and re-entry delay strategies that would normally stop anyone from accessing a phone after a number of incorrect passcode entries.
While you probably don’t have any reason to not want the police or government agencies to hack into your phone, the real concern here is that if it’s possible for the GrayKey device to hack into your phone this way, it’s highly likely that there will be similar devices and hacks available to criminals.
So, until Apple fixes the vulnerability that GrayKey is exploiting to run it’s passcode hack, what can you do to protect your phone?
Choose a long passcode: one that’s longer than six-digits. It could take a few months to hack an eight-digit pin, and a ten-digit pin could take a decade to crack!
Use a passphrase containing words, rather than numbers. But use random worlds that wouldn’t normally appear together.
While passcodes only use numbers 0-9, a passphrase includes numbers, letters, symbols and case-sensitivity which should make your iPhone a lot harder to break into – although it may take a little longer to unlock your iPhone when you want to use it.
Here’s how to set up a new passcode for iOS
Tap Touch ID & Passcode (or Face ID & Passcode if you have an iPhone X).
Enter your Passcode.
Cap on Change Passcode.
Enter your Passcode.
Tap Passcode Options.
From the options, choose either Custom Numeric Code or Custom Alphanumeric Code.
Now enter your new code and verify it.
While if you use Touch ID or Face ID to unlock your phone you won’t normally need to use your passcode to unlock it, you may still need it if you haven’t used your phone for more than six days, or if you restart your device, for example.
(On the subject of passwords, you can significantly improve your security by using a
Auto-wipe iPhone content
Our next suggestion may be a little unnerving for some people, but is a great option if you feel like someone is trying to guess your iPhone passcode. The idea is that after ten incorrect passcode guesses, the iPhone will automatically wipe all content and thus make the smartphone useless to the hacker.
It’s slightly worrying as we’ve known people to accidentally activate the feature (usually when under the influence of alcohol!) and delete all their personal information.
These are usually the same people that tend not to use automatic iCloud backup, so if you do enable the option we’d advise also turning on automatic iCloud backup so if your data is wiped (due to an accident or someone trying to hack you) you’ll have everything saved in the cloud.
To enable the rather nuclear option, simply head to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode, scroll to the bottom of the page and toggle on ‘Erase Data’.
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