Apple announced Wednesday that it won’t write code allowing the FBI to unlock one of the San Bernardino shooters’ iPhones, turning greater attention to the issue of encryption and consumer privacy.
Apple takes consumer privacy extremely seriously, which is why Apple’s iOS 9 update made a six-digit password the default. That may not seem like a huge change, but it makes breaking into your iPhone a lot harder.
Here are five simple ways you can make your iPhone more secure:
A six-digit password is safer than a four-digit one
With iOS 9, the default password on iPhones is six digits instead of four. Although the extra two digits might not seem like a huge difference, Apple says that the possible combinations that could be used to access your phone has expanded from 10,000 to 1 million.
To change your passcode, go to Settings and look for Touch ID & Passcode (note: my phone is not enabled with Touch ID so it only says passcode.
After clicking Touch ID & Passcode, go to Change Passcode.
It will then prompt you an Alphanumeric or six-digit numerical code. Just make sure it’s something no one can guess. “123456” is a terrible passcode. And it’s worth noting that Alphanumeric is by far the safest choice.
Enable Touch ID
You don’t have to worry about your fingerprints being stolen the same way that occurred during the hacking of 20 million U.S. government records (5.6 million fingerprints were stolen during that breach). Apple converts your fingerprint into a mathematical representation that cannot be reverse engineered. That mathematical representation is stored in your phone’s chip where it cannot be accessed by iOS or other apps. It is never stored on servers or the cloud.
To enable Touch ID, go back into settings and click Touch ID & Passcode. From there, you can add different fingerprints.
Set up two-step verification
Two-step verification allows you to to verify your identity before signing into iCloud, iMessage, and FaceTime and before making purchases via iTunes, iBooks, and the App Store. When set up, a four-digit code will be sent via text message after you enter your Apple ID and Password. This will ensure there are two lines of security that must be crossed before any purchases are made.
To set it up, go to Settings > App and iTunes Stores
Click Apple ID > View Apple ID. From there it will take you to a page where you can click on Password and Security. Simply type in the answer to your security questions and follow the directions to install two-step verification.
Choose a strong Apple ID password
This seems self-explanatory, but many people neglect to create passwords in such a way that makes them harder to crack. A few ways to make your password more secure are to make it at least eight characters, use a password that hasn’t been used in the past year, do not use multiple identical characters and have at least one letter, one number and one capital letter. You can also use an app like 1Password, which can generate a random jumble of numbers and letters for you.
Use Find My iPhone, iPad and Mac
This allows you to see where your device is on a map in case it gets lost or stolen. But if you get the hunch that iPhone is never making its way home, the app allows you to erase your data remotely, so at least your information is secure.
The “Find My…” apps are included with your Apple device.
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