X

iOS 12.3: How to keep your iPhone safe from hackers and snoopers

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 12.3.
img-1636-copy.jpg
1 of 20 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Why you should lock down your iPhone

Do you have information on your iPhone or iPad that you don't want to fall into the hands of others? Or maybe you want to make your iPhone next to worthless to a thief. Either way, locking down your iOS device makes a lot of sense.

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

Set a strong passcode
2 of 20 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

It all begins 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 stronger the passcode you can use -- and remember! -- the better. It really is the cornerstone of your security. If this falls into someone's hands, they own your iPhone and its data.

Go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode (or Touch ID & Passcode on iPhones with the Touch ID button), 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 using a 4-digit pin code because it's easy for shoulder-surfers to see what your PIN code is (it's also sometimes obvious which four numbers are in use because of the position of the greasy fingerprints on the display).

Set brute-force protection
3 of 20 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Prevent someone trying to guess your passcode

Check for password reuse
6 of 20 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET
Control access to what's accessible when the iPhone or iPad is locked
7 of 20 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

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 flipside is the more you lock it down, the more often you have to unlock your device to see what's going on. 

The USB Accessories feature is especially useful, because it will prevent the Lightning port from being used to connect to any accessory if your iPhone or iPad has been locked for more than an hour.

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

2019-05-07-13-01-42.jpg
8 of 20 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Use a VPN, especially when using public Wi-Fi

A VPN (virtual private network) allows you to create a secure connection between your device and the VPN service provider's server, allowing you to browse the web securely and without others being able to snoop on what you are doing.

There a a lot of VPN providers out there, but one that I've used a lot and trust is F-Secure's Freedome VPN

img-1619.jpg
11 of 20 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Find out which apps have microphone access

A lot of apps ask to have access to your microphone, so it's a good idea every so often to check to see if you are still comfortable with them having this ability.

To do this head over to Settings > Privacy > Microphone and make changes as you see fit.

img-1618.jpg
18 of 20 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Take control over location-based alerts, Apple ads, and suggestions

Location-based alerts, Apple ads, and suggestions are all very handy, but in exchange for this convenience you are allowing your location to be tracked. 

If you want to take control over this, head over to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services and tweak the settings you feel make you more comfortable. 

I generally keep Location-Based Alerts and Location-Based Suggestions on, and disable Location-Based Apple Ads, but you can turn them all off if you wish.

Related Galleries

Holiday wallpaper for your phone: Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year's, and winter scenes
Holiday lights in Central Park background

Related Galleries

Holiday wallpaper for your phone: Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year's, and winter scenes

21 Photos
Winter backgrounds for your next virtual meeting
Wooden lodge in pine forest with heavy snow reflection on Lake O'hara at Yoho national park

Related Galleries

Winter backgrounds for your next virtual meeting

21 Photos
Holiday backgrounds for Zoom: Christmas cheer, New Year's Eve, Hanukkah and winter scenes
3D Rendering Christmas interior

Related Galleries

Holiday backgrounds for Zoom: Christmas cheer, New Year's Eve, Hanukkah and winter scenes

21 Photos
Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6: Electric vehicle extravaganza
img-8825

Related Galleries

Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6: Electric vehicle extravaganza

26 Photos
A weekend with Google's Chrome OS Flex
img-9792-2

Related Galleries

A weekend with Google's Chrome OS Flex

22 Photos
Cybersecurity flaws, customer experiences, smartphone losses, and more: ZDNet's research roundup
shutterstock-1024665187.jpg

Related Galleries

Cybersecurity flaws, customer experiences, smartphone losses, and more: ZDNet's research roundup

8 Photos
Inside a fake $20 '16TB external M.2 SSD'
Full of promises!

Related Galleries

Inside a fake $20 '16TB external M.2 SSD'

8 Photos