10 Tips on Securing Your IPhone Smartphone

article by Maria Perinic
July 02, 2019

Apple products and iPhones, in particular, have had this reputation of being arguably one of the most secure smart devices you could purchase. This is because Apple offers its customers a closed system, never releasing its source code to developers. In turn, this means that iPhones cannot be modified by people at home.

It is also much more difficult for developers to get their apps into the App Store, with stringent rules and regulations for that to happen. This, however, has not stopped the likes of hackers breaking down Apple’s security walls with various malware and spyware attacks. So, if you’re wondering how to secure your iPhone from hackers we have compiled a list of seven steps you can take to make sure it never happens to you.

#1 Don’t Jailbreak Your iPhone

This is one of the biggest security risks known to Apple. By jailbreaking your phone you use a program to bypass Apple’s software and default settings. As soon as this happens you can access apps and other software that isn’t available in the usual channels.

One of the biggest downfalls of jailbreaking your iPhone is that you will not have a valid warranty any longer meaning that Apple will not be on hand if something should go wrong. In fact, Apple came out with a statement as to why it shouldn’t be done.

“Apple strongly cautions against installing any software that hacks iOS. It is also important to note that unauthorized modification of iOS is a violation of the iOS end-user software license agreement and because of this, Apple may deny service for an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch that has installed any unauthorized software.”

There is also the inability to apply future software updates, which means your device will not have the added security as time goes on. As soon as your iPhone has been jailbroken you have opened the gates to hackers who are eager to steal your personal information, attack your network and infiltrate your iPhone with various malware, spyware or viruses.

#2 Choose a Strong Password

If you are using a four-digit password on your iPhone, you should upgrade it as soon as possible. This is because there is a one in 10,000 chance that someone can break into your phone the first time they try. Additionally, you should think about how difficult your password is.

Think about how accessible your password is from social media platforms. If you’re using your partner’s name or birthday, or even your own birthday, remember that this is all information that is readily accessible on the internet. So, what’s the solution? Keep things random.

Leigh-Anne Galloway, Cyber Security Resilience Lead at enterprise security firm Positive Technologies says, “In my opinion, the most secure way… to manage your phone locking is to use a randomly generated password,” she said. “Yes, it’s hard to remember, but all the other techniques make the authentication process more simple both for you and for potential attackers.”

You also need to make sure that your passcode times is set to at least 5 minutes after your device was last used. There are options to keep your iPhone unlocked for up to four hours, which is just ridiculous. The less time someone has to breach your phone’s security, the better.

#3 Avoid Public Charging

It might seem harmless to plug your iPhone into a random charging point, especially if you’re on holiday, but according to the experts, this is one of the biggest security risks that you can take with your iPhone.

“Just by plugging your phone into a [compromised] power strip or charger, your device is now infected, and that compromises all your data,” Drew Paik of security firm Authentic8 said.

Public charging stations that you find in places like planes, airports, parks and cafés can be used to send your data to other devices which means your messages, contacts, emails, and photos can be compromised.

What you should do is invest in a portable USB battery pack or purchase USB cords which do not have wires to transmit data and keep your smartphone secure at all times.

If you have no choice but to use these public charging spots, you can avoid juice jacking by switching off your mobile device when you’re charging your phone. As soon as your iPhone is off this means it cannot be connected to other devices for any form of data transfer.

#4 Use a VPN

No matter if you’re at home or overseas your iPhone can be vulnerable every time you go online. By subscribing to a VPN service you have an added security measure retaining your digital privacy as well as having the added benefits of accessing geo-restricted content as well as circumventing censorship.

A VPN is able to encrypt your data by rerouting your online traffic through to a server in many locations across the globe. Choosing the right VPN can be a challenge as there are many aspects to think about when selecting the right one for your iPhone.

ExpressVPN is our favorite especially for iOS devices which includes easy set up as well as a user-friendly interface. Having jurisdiction in the British Virgin Islands means that none of your data will be accessible to hackers or even your ISP. With unlimited bandwidth and lightning fast speeds, you can be sure that your iPhone will not slow down or experience lag.

The best security for iPhone definitely includes a VPN, the best of which come with a kill switch. In the likelihood that your VPN connection drops the kill switch acts automatically by stopping all of your online activities keeping you safe from third parties and snoops.

Want to know more reasons as to why ExpressVPN is the best VPN for your iPhone protection? They include:

  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Ultra-fast streaming speeds
  • Compatible with Android TV (Box) and Fire TV
  • Apps available for every device
  • Hides your streaming activity
  • No connection logs
  • No activity logs
  • P2P possibility
  • Ping times that are minimally affected
  • ExpressVPN works extremely well in high censorship countries
  • Military grade encryption
  • Large international server network
  • 30-Day money back guarantee
  • Outstanding customer service
  • 99% uptime guarantee

ExpressVPN also offers a special deal, get 3 months free and 49% savings with their annual subscription plan!

Want to find out more? Check out the full review here.

#5 Turn off Siri

When Siri was first introduced by Apple people found the personal assistant very exciting and useful, however with time, chances are that the novelty has worn off. Although many of us don’t use the service any longer it may be that you haven’t turned this option off. The fact of the matter is that Siri is actually another major threat when it comes to your iPhone security.

Although Siri will often ask for some sort of verification before allowing you access to things like photos, contacts and other sensitive information, there have been numerous instances where people have found Siri to be a channel to bypass the iPhone passcode and hack into the device. In fact, a simple Google search will come up with guides using Siri to unlock any iPhone.

“Siri Shortcuts gives native capability to potentially send messages to contacts if the appropriate permissions are enabled,” says John Kuhn, senior security threat researcher for IBM X-Force IRIS. “In theory, this could be manipulated by an attacker to spread a link to other contacts. This tactic is commonly used by attackers to get victims to install malware via email phishing attempts,” Kuhn said. “Basically, the attacker needs to offer anything enticing enough to get the user to comply with installing an otherwise suspect piece of software.”

So if one of your major concerns is how to secure your iPhone, turning Siri off is one of the most important steps.

#6 Check Your Permission Settings

A lot of the time we download apps and don’t take a lot of notice as to the permissions they need to function. For example, many apps take advantage of Apple’s fantastic camera technology especially when it comes to social media. What you may not know is that it may your sensitive information like photo libraries and other information can be passed on to organizations like credit agencies or even used in targeted advertising.

So how do you ensure the best security for iPhone? “If you grant an app permission to access your contacts list, GPS data, pictures — or anything else — you must assume it is using that data,” Ray Walsh, a digital privacy expert says. “Always check all permissions during installation and revoke as many permissions as possible in your device settings.”

Also, make sure to think about how much information an app really needs to access. Stephen Hart, the CRO of Cardswitcher elaborates, “[If] you’re downloading a simple app for a pocket calculator for instance and the app is requesting access to your contact list and location,” Hart said. “Why would a calculator need to see your contact list and location? Requests like that should ring some alarm bells.”

How do you know if something fishy is going on? A technical program manager and security expert from HackerOne Shlomie Liberow says that you should pay attention to your battery life.

“If after installing an app, you notice your battery life decreasing faster than usual, that may be a tell-tale sign that the app is up to no good and is likely operating in the background,” Liberow told CNET. “Often, malicious apps would constantly run in the background to repeatedly upload user data such as contacts from the phone.”

Other tips include regularly checking your permissions in your privacy settings as well as deleting apps that you no longer use so that you minimize the threat of viruses and malware appearing in old apps.

#7 Update Your iPhone

It has been said that with each update your iPhone gets just a little bit slower and so people are often reluctant to update their software. Other people just forget to do so. It is incredibly important to make time to update your iPhone because this is the way that your device remains safe from the latest threats used by hackers.

If you run old versions on your iPhone there are vulnerabilities that your device is facing on a daily basis. Another idea is to replace your iPhone as soon as there are no more iPS updates for your particular model.

“If the smartphone manufacturer is no longer releasing new operating system updates for your device, it means the device is very outdated and you’ll want to upgrade to something new because old operating systems are more vulnerable to cyber attacks,” Michael Bancroft, co-host of Globalive Media’s “Beyond Innovation.”

Replacing your phone every four years is probably one of the best options or when it slows down to a completely frustrating pace.

“There are some telltale signs you need to replace your iPhone, or any smartphone for that matter. If you notice it takes your device a long time to carry out basic functions like turning on or switching between apps, it’s because the processor is wearing down and you need a new smartphone,” Michael reveals.

Conclusion

Although iPhones are well known to be quite safe, there has been a rise in iPhone attacks from third-party hackers. According to Check Point’s Global Threat Index Apple is being increasingly targeted in crypto mining malware attacks.

“Check Point’s researchers detected a near 400% increase in crypto mining malware attacks against iPhones. The surge was seen in the last two weeks of September (2018) when attacks against users of the Safari browser also rose significantly,” the report revealed.”

This just goes to prove that no mobile device is completely safe against attacks and all models have vulnerabilities, but there are threat prevention solutions.

If you were wondering how to protect your iPhone from being hacked, you should update your software as soon as they are released by Apple. Also, jailbreaking your iPhone is never a good idea as it allows third parties to come in and have a free-for-all in terms of your personal information and data, possibly resulting in identity theft.

A VPN will keep all of your online movements completely anonymous even from your ISP and means that you can hook up to public WiFi without a second thought, as well as access geo-blocked content, whether at home or overseas.