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Securing your iPhone 5 +

Updated on July 13, 2016

As the title suggests for this post I am just focusing on the iPhone 5 and up. For the most part Apple are pretty slick when it comes to patching their devices and keeping things secure, however a lot of the features of the iPhone that may make your life a bit easier may also create an area of insecurity around your device. Lets take siri for example, shes great to have a chat with on cold nights when there is no one else around. The issue with siri is she's a bit of a gossip and will talk to anyone. Let's take the following scenario your phone is stolen, you have a lock code on it so even though your pissed your not going to panic just yet. Lets say who ever stole your device has been watching you and they want to find out where you live, they cant do that right? WRONG if you have spent a bit of time setting siri up chances are she can be accessed from the lock screen of your phone, so all our thief/stalker needs to do is ask siri a few simple questions.


Who am I?

Where do I live?

What are my upcoming appointments?


Try this yourself see what information you get back....


Am I starting to paint a picture of how this can all go wrong so fast..... Hold on just before we start to panic I have created a list of 10 things you can do to help protect yourself and your family. Of course you can completely ignore my list and keep living life on the edge if that's your thing :).

1) Disable Siri on a lock screen



Go to “Settings” –> “Passcode” (or “Touch ID and passcode”) –> “Allow access when locked” section –> “Siri: off” and “Settings” –> “General” –> “Siri” –> “Allow “Hey Siri”: off”.


2) Use a strong password instead of a 4 digit code



This is important I cant stress enough, how simple it has become to smash out your 4 digit passcode in a few hours. You might think who the hell would bother doing that I'm not some Government spy no your not but you do have lots of juicy personal data in their that can be used to steal your identity or exploits your friends and family. As an extra option, you can also turn the “erase data” feature on, so the device will wipe everything from its memory after 10 failed passcode attempts. But keep in mind that all the data will be erased forever and you won’t be able to recover it i.e DON'T FORGOT YOUR PASSWORD!!!!!

Where can you set these requirements? Go to “Settings” –> “Passcode” (or “Touch ID and passcode”) –> “Require passcode: immediately”; “Simple passcode: off”.


3) Turn off lock screen notifications

This is similar to the stalker/possible killer type scenario or just the nosy work colleague keep your shit private! The more information you allow to your screen the more exposed you are, you may not think that matters until you are sitting in the pub and your friend sends you a message to ask: "is that asshole Dave there?", and you can then respond saying "yup hes here and by the way he read the message cause I let my phone display everything to the screen.... sorry plus Dave said he wants the €50 he lent you back!".... Maybe that's exaggerated but don't take any chances.

Where can you set these requirements? Go to “Settings” –> “Passcode” (or “Touch ID and passcode”) –> “Allow access when locked” section.


4) Turn on two-step verification for Apple ID and iCloud



This is a big one, in my opinion it will only be a matter of time before every device that requires a log in will force people to use two-step verification, but just in case I'm wrong you should set it up anyway. Apple makes you wait a few days before you can actually set this up so if you start the process don't forget to log back in and finish it off after.. 3 days I think.

Where can you set these requirements? Go to https://appleid.apple.com –> “Manage your Apple ID” –> “Password and Security” –> “Two-Step Verification”.


5) Turn off automatic sync to iCloud


This is one of those things that could really come back and bite you in the ass literally! If you have iCloud set up you have 3G/4G or wifi and you take a picture boom its in the cloud... FOREVER!!! So I don't know but I'm guessing after a crazy night out you may want to review what picture leave your phone and head off to god knows where.

Where can you set these requirements? Go to “Settings” –> “iCloud”.


6) Turn off cookies in your browsers


Your now thinking "cookies" what the hell is this guy on about there is no "cookies" in my phone, I can't dip this thing in tea! No you cant and please don't try your phone won't taste great it will just stop working. Cookies are small files which almost any website generates and leaves on your device. They may contain some information about you, your computer or smartphone, and your preferences. It helps websites keep you logged in, or to show you some relevant content including ads, but in some cases they may be very helpful to cybercriminals as they can contain credentials and other sensitive data. The only issue here is some site just wont work when you disable this so its one of those catch 22 situations.

Where can you set these requirements? For Safari: Go to “Settings” –> “Safari” –> “Privacy & Security” section –> “Do Not Track: on”, “Block Cookies: Always Block”; For third party browsers: see similar browser settings.



7) Don’t let apps access your contacts, photos, messages and other private data



This is one of my pet hates, when I download an app for getting dinner recipes why the hell does it want access to my contacts, my camera and my microphone???? And secondly why would anyone allow it access to any of these things? This really is one that you should spend a bit of time looking into.

Where can you set these requirements? Go to “Settings” –> “Privacy”.


8) Turn off the AutoFill option in your browsers


This is another of those be less lazy common sense type things, if this feature is turned on and someone gets your phone chances are they will be able to log into a number of sites..As you!

Where can you set these requirements? For Safari: Go to “Settings” –> “Safari” –> “General” section –> “Passwords & AutoFill”; For third party browsers: see similar browser settings.

9)Discard automatic WiFi connections to known networks



I don't like this feature at all, and I'm going to tell you why. By having this enabled your phone will not only automatically connected to any wifi network that you logged onto before, but it will also log onto any network with the same SSID (name) of a network that you logged on before. This is dangerous, think of shopping areas that offer public wifi (which of course you wouldn't use because your smarter than that) most of these networks have the same name a common one in Ireland is "eircom". Therefore your phone will automatically connect to these networking if you ever connected to one of that name before, so I really shouldn't have to explain why this can be a fruitful play ground for a cybercriminal.

Where can you set these requirements? Go to “Settings” –> “Wi-Fi” –> “Ask to join networks: on”.


10) Get used to VPN



A VPN or virtual private network is the best way to go to really ensure some safety when browsing the web especially on those public wireless networks that you would never use. There is also no point going for a free VPN as the speeds and reliability and all that other stuff that you don't really understand wont be great. You can make up your own mind on who to go with for this I use AirVPN they charge around €30 for 6 months with unlimited bandwidth.


So guys, that's it for today if anyone has any questions post them below and I guarantee to get back to you within one working year.

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