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How to secure your iPhone from hackers, snoopers, and thieves (iOS 12.1)

Your iPhone and iPad is likely packed with important, valuable, and even sensitive information that you might not want others to be able to access. Here are the steps you should take to lock down an iPhone or iPad running iOS 12.1.
Introduction
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Why secure your device?

People carry a huge amount of very valuable personal information around with them everywhere they go on their iPhones. And while iOS does a great job of keeping their data safe, it's possible to make the device a lot more secure.

Here are settings you should check (and change) and tweaks you should make to harden the security and lock down your device.

One point worth making is that added security always puts speed bumps in the way of productivity, and added additional steps -- and a few seconds -- to doing things. Security is always a compromise, but in my mind, added security is always worth the small downsides that come from it.

Set a strong passcode
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Start with a strong passcode

Security all starts by keeping people out of your device!

No matter whether you use Touch ID or Face ID, you still need a passcode, and the longer the passcode you can use -- and remember! -- the better.

Go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode (or Face ID & Passcode on iPhones with Face ID), enter your existing passcode, and then tap on Passcode Options to get a set of options. Choose between Custom Alphanumeric Code (the most secure) or Custom Numeric Code (second best option), or 4-Digit Numeric Code (I don't recommend this last option because it's easy for shoulder-surfers to see what your PIN code is).

Control what Touch ID/Face ID is used to authenticate
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Control what Touch ID/Face ID is used to authenticate

Password AutoFill and third-party password managers
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Password AutoFill and third-party password managers

Control access to what's accessible when the iPhone or iPad is locked
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Control access to what's accessible when the iPhone or iPad is locked

Control how much - or how little - you want to be accessible on a locked device. iOS 12 gives control over the following:

  • - Today View
  • - Notification Center
  • - Control Center
  • - Siri
  • - Reply with Message
  • - Home Control
  • - Wallet
  • - Return Missed Call
  • - USB Accessories

The bottom line is that the more you lock down, the more secure your device and data will be. The USB Accessories feature is especially useful, because it will prevent the Lightning port being used to connect to any accessory if your iPhone or iPad has been locked for more than an hour.

Go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode (or Face ID & Passcode on iPhones with Face ID), enter your existing passcode to control this.

Check for password reuse
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Disable unnecessary widgets
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Disable unnecessary widgets

Activate "Find My iPhone"
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