14 ways to beef up the security on your iPhone

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Man holding iPhone
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If you have an iPhone, the last thing you want is some criminal getting into it!

Read more: Apple fixes 911 phone bug in iOS software

Protect your iPhone by taking these steps

Have you put these security measures in place yet?

Set up fingerprint recognition

Setting up Touch ID is easy. Simply open the Settings app and then touch Tap Touch ID & Passcode.

Touch ID will unlock your iPhone, as well as working with Apple Pay and the iTunes and App Stores.

Choose your passcode wisely

Don’t make it too easy like “1234” or “1111” or “0000.” Those are, obviously, very easy to crack.

Pick a longer passcode consisting of six digits. Apple began allowing you to do a six-digit passcode with iOS 9.

If you’re still using a four-digit code, it’s easy to change:

Go to settings –> Passcode –> Change Passcode –> Passcode Options –> Six-Digit Numeric Code

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Enable two-step verification

Two-step verification is your friend. Enabling it simply means you’ll have to enter your password plus a four-digit code sent to you via text message when you want to do anything — whether it’s sign in to iCloud, manage your Apple ID or make a purchase in iTunes or the App Store on a new device.

This one is pretty much a no-brainer!

Don’t mess with your OS

Resist the temptation to fool around with your operating system. People sometimes mess around with their iOS because they want to download apps that aren’t sanctioned by Apple. Don’t do it!

Skip the public Wi-Fi

You should never do any financial transactions on free public Wi-Fi because hackers are known to create fake networks with the same names as public hot spots. Once you’re on these bogus networks doing banking or investing, they can take all your data and all your money.

Consider giving “Hey, Siri” the boot

It’s been well-documented that someone can access your iPhone when it’s locked. To prevent anyone from getting info from your iPhone by talking to Siri, consider deactivating the “Hey, Siri” feature. Go to the General section of the Settings app and find the setting in the Siri section.

Don’t make too much visible on your lock screen

In the Touch ID & Passcode section of the Settings app, you can prevent features like Today View, the Notifications View, Siri, the Reply with Message feature, the Home Control feature and Wallet from appearing on your lock screen.

tips to make your iphone more secure

Have a plan to wipe your phone’s data clean

It would never take you 10 attempts to get your passcode right. Then it follows that somebody who does need 10 attempts to get in is probably not you. That’s why you may want to consider erasing the data on your iPhone after 10 failed passcode attempts. You’ll find this feature in the Touch ID & Passcode section too.

Tell Safari not to track you

Your phone’s browser watches your data unless you tell it otherwise. To turn off this functionality, go to the Safari section of the Settings app and turn off the AutoFill feature. You’ll also want to toggle on the Do Not Track option and block cookies.

Finally, don’t store your passwords in Safari either. That way if someone does get your phone, they won’t be able to easily get into your accounts.

Put your phone down on a level surface when typing in a code

This one may sound crazy, but British researchers have found that your phone’s accelerometer, gyroscope and other parts can reveal your passcode. They already monitor the way you tilt your phone, and that data can be used to breach your security by ingenious criminals.

Puzzled about how this works? Consider this explanation…

“Tap 1,1,1 on a dialing key pad and it’s like to tilt ever so slightly somewhat up and to the left. Type 9,9,9 and the device tends to tilt down and to the right,” the Kansas City Star reports. “Algorithms tracking the multiple sensors on your phone, the researchers suggest, can reliably pick up on the subtle differences to decipher your passwords and PINs.”

Researchers had 70% accuracy trying to guess passcodes the first time when using this method. By their fifth guess, they had 100% accuracy.

Scary, but true. The solution suggested is to put your phone down so it doesn’t move one way or the other when you’re typing in your code.

Be a “Cool Hand Luke”

German researchers have demonstrated how sophisticated criminals can use thermal imaging cameras to stealthily steal your passcode and quickly gain access to your phone after you’ve entered your digits and walked away.

This technique, described here in detail, has nearly 90% accuracy up to 15 seconds after the user last touched their phone screen. At 30 seconds, it works with 80% accuracy.

The researchers have a couple of suggestions to help you thwart would-be thermal camera criminals.

First, avoid duplicate numbers in your passcode. Duplicate numbers only make the heat traces more pronounced and easier to figure out. Second, it’s been said that cooler heads prevail, but hot hands can derail you when you’re trying to lock down your privacy!

So you may want to consider holding a bottle of cold water or something else that’s cool before entering your passcode if you’re really concerned about this particular method of breach.

Be wary of text messages from banks

Maybe you’ve signed up for texts from your bank. But then a text comes through you weren’t expecting with a link for you to click to update your info. What do you do?

While it may be legit, your best bet is to play it safe. Get off your phone, get onto a secure network (preferably from a computer with good anti-virus software on it) and log into your bank’s official website. If the text from your bank was a legit one, you should see the same request for your info at the bank’s official website. Then you can give them whatever info they’re asking for.

Only trust downloads directly from financial websites

When it comes to downloading mobile banking apps, be sure you only install your bank, credit union or brokerage firm’s official apps that you find at their websites.

Have a different password for each financial site

You’re going to need a unique password for each financial account you have: Bank, credit union, brokerage account, etc. That way if one is compromised, the crooks won’t have automatic access to every financial account in your life. Here are seven ways to create safer passwords for all your accounts.

Read more: Could your bank start charging you for mobile banking?

Your iCloud account could be vulnerable to hackers

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo is director of content for clark.com. He has co-written 2 books with Clark Howard, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Clark Howard's Living Large in Lean Times.
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