We store our whole lives on our smartphones, so it makes sense to take security seriously. Follow these tips to stop prying eyes getting to your sensitive information
1) Use a PIN or fingerprint security
With all the things we now use our smartphone for: email; banking; browsing; shopping, it’s dangerous to leave them unguarded. Locking your screen will protect your sensitive data and apps from meddling. Just go into the settings app on your device, then the general tab and “Touch ID & passcode lock” – from here you will be able to turn on either a numeric PIN or Touch ID fingerprint scanning. If you do use a PIN steer clear of the two most common – and therefore easily guessed – combinations: 0000 and 1234.
2) Or use a longer passphrase…
If you want more security than a four-digit PIN provides – after all, there’s a one-in-10,000 chance that someone will guess it correctly first time – you can opt instead to use a passphrase. To do this, go to your settings app, then “Touch ID & Passcode” and turn “Simple Passcode” off. This will allow you to create a longer and more complex passcode with upper and lowercase letters, numbers and other symbols.
If you’re serious about stopping intruders then you can tell your phone to delete all data if it thinks someone is trying to break in. Under the same page on settings you can enable “erase data” – this will wipe the phone clean after ten incorrect guesses at the PIN. If you have Touch ID enabled then it will allow you three chances to get your fingerprint recognised, then it will revert to PIN entry.
4) Privacy settings
You have dozens of apps installed on your phone and they all have access to various features or data on your phone: some can use the camera, others the microphone, some might even be able to look at your photographs. You’ll have had to give them each permission to do this at the time, but it’s easy to lose track – maybe there are apps you no longer use, and giving them access is an unnecessary risk. Go into your settings app and then the “privacy” tab. Here you will be able to see which apps have which privileges, and turn them off/on.
5) Turn off notifications
The ability to see a summary of notifications on the lock screen is handy, but if that gives away personal or confidential data then you could be in trouble. Remember, it will show the contents of messages you receive, your calendar for that day and various other things.
6) Disable Siri
Just as with notifications, Siri can leak data even when your phone is locked. An attacker finding your phone unattended can ask him/her all sorts of questions that could reveal personal information. To put a stop to this go to settings, then “Touch ID & passcode” and set “allow access when locked” on Siri to off.
7) Type it yourself
AutoFill is a handy feature that does exactly what it says on the tin: any time that Safari sees a box asking for your name, username, password or credit card details, it fills them in for you. This is fine, unless someone else happens to be using your phone. To turn it off, go to settings, then general and “Passwords & AutoFill”.