Pro­tect your iPhone from hack­ers

Lewis Painter ex­plains how to pro­tect an iPhone from hack­ers

iPad&iPhone user - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

In 2016, head­lines fo­cused on Ap­ple and the FBI’s bat­tle to hack or un­lock an iPhone. It caused con­cerns about the safety of pri­vate data on an iPhone, as they store a va­ri­ety of sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion in­clud­ing web­site lo­gins, email ad­dresses, text mes­sages and even pho­tos and videos.

While iOS 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.

1. 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 11, but point up­dates for iOS 11 are reg­u­larly re­leased so it’s im­por­tant to keep an eye out for those.

2. 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 hand­set, 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.

3. Cre­ate a longer pass­code

We all know and love the 4-digit pin pro­tec­tion that Ap­ple em­ploys, but the one in 10,000 chance of

some­one guess­ing your pin cor­rectly the first time may be wor­ry­ing for some users – es­pe­cially those with sen­si­tive and pri­vate data stored on their iPhones. While you can up the pass­code to six dig­its, that may still not be enough to de­ter hack­ers. What can you do in­stead? Use a passphrase. While pass­codes only use num­bers 0 to 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.

To change from pin to passphrase, open the Set­tings app and go to Touch ID & Pass­code (or Face ID & Pass­code for an iPhone X), then Change Pass­code. Tap Change Pass­code, then type in your cur­rent Pass­code and choose ‘Pass­code Op­tions when it asks you to en­ter a new one. Now se­lect ‘Cus­tom Al­phanu­meric Code’. You should then be prompted to cre­ate a more com­plex pass­word com­prised of not only num­bers, but let­ters, sym­bols too.

(On the sub­ject of pass­words, you can sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove your se­cu­rity by us­ing a pass­word man­ager. See our round-up on page 77)

4. 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’.

5. Avoid open­ing un­known links

This one is self-ex­plana­tory – if you re­ceive an un­known link via text, email or ran­domly on the web, don’t click on it. This could po­ten­tially pose a threat to your de­vice and even though it may not be able to hack your iPhone di­rectly, some pose as pop­u­lar email clients like Gmail to gain ac­cess to your email ac­count.

The pages usu­ally look pretty close to the real thing, so this type of scam is com­mon and it al­ways pays to keep your wits about you.

The gen­eral rule is that if you don’t trust the look of the email/mes­sage then just don’t bother open­ing it. The same goes for email at­tach­ments too, although there

aren’t many (if any at all) cases where hack­ers have been able to gain ac­cess to an iPhone via this method, and this is more of a gen­eral tip.

6. Re­voke app per­mis­sions

The next step to take in the war against hack­ers is to re­voke ac­cess to apps. When you use iOS apps you’ll of­ten be prompted to al­low the app to ac­cess things like the cam­era, mi­cro­phone, con­tacts, and so on, to use the app to the fullest ex­tent.

Even though al­low­ing ac­cess means you can use ev­ery fea­ture of the app, the app may also be able to ac­cess your pri­vate in­for­ma­tion.

Don’t get us wrong – this is against Ap­ple’s pri­vacy pol­icy and any apps found col­lect­ing per­son­ally iden­ti­fi­able in­for­ma­tion will be re­moved, and as far as we know this hasn’t hap­pened so far, but it is a pos­si­bil­ity.

Ei­ther way, if you feel like you’ve in­stalled a less-than-rep­utable app on your iPhone, you can ei­ther delete it or head to Set­tings > Pri­vacy, se­lect the per­mis­sion you’d like to re­voke and tog­gle the ap­pli­ca­tion off – sadly this has to be done on a per-per­mis­sion ba­sis as there’s no way to tog­gle per­mis­sions off all at once.

7. Turn off Siri

Ap­ple’s per­sonal as­sis­tant, Siri, is a great fea­ture of iOS and pro­vides users with a way of us­ing their smart­phone hands-free.

How­ever, no mat­ter how help­ful Siri may be to users, it can also pro­vide hack­ers with per­sonal data. Siri will

of­ten ask for some kind of ver­i­fi­ca­tion be­fore al­low­ing ac­cess to con­tacts, pho­tos and other types of sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion, but there have been mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions where peo­ple have found work­arounds com­pletely by­pass­ing the iPhone pass­code and pro­vid­ing easy ac­cess to the de­vice.

To dis­able ac­cess to Siri on the lock screen, sim­ply head to Set­tings > Touch ID and Pass­code and tog­gle the ‘al­low ac­cess when locked’ op­tion off.

8. Turn off auto-fill

The same can be said about Ap­ple’s auto-fill fea­ture in Sa­fari. Ap­ple’s Key­chain stores web­site lo­gins, prompt­ing users to save the in­for­ma­tion af­ter suc­cess­fully log­ging into their ac­count.

It’s a hugely handy fea­ture as it means we don’t have to re­mem­ber the lo­gin in­for­ma­tion for the myr­iad of web­sites we browse – and the same goes for credit/debit card in­for­ma­tion. Sim­ply tap a but­ton and Ap­ple will fill out all your credit/debit card in­for­ma­tion, apart from your se­cu­rity code.

How­ever, if a hacker does man­age to gain ac­cess to your iPhone, it pro­vides them with ac­cess to all your on­line lo­gins. To dis­able key­chain and auto-fill, sim­ply go to Set­tings > Sa­fari > Au­toFill and tog­gle off each op­tion.

9. How to avoid iCloud photo leaks and hacks

The past cou­ple of years have seen a swathe of celebrity photo leaks. As usual on the web, fa­mous women get the worst treat­ment – which in this case means the wide­spread post­ing of nude pho­tos. And in a lot of cases an iPhone, or an iCloud ac­count, has been in­volved. That doesn’t mean that Ap­ple hard­ware and soft­ware ser­vices are fun­da­men­tally in­se­cure. In fact, we feel con­fi­dent in say­ing that the iPhone is the most se­cure main­stream smart­phone on the mar­ket right now. But it does show that no­body can be com­pla­cent about the se­cu­rity of their most per­sonal data and pho­tos. We there­fore rec­om­mend two-step au­then­ti­ca­tion and an au­dit of your se­cure ques­tions.

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