iOS Security

Richard LaHue
2017-07-11 21:10

iOS devices include iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches. Although the Apple TV and Apple Watch both run derivations of iOS (TVOS and WatchOS, respectively), they are not considered iOS devices for the purposes of this article. We’ll go over the following kinds of security in detail: access management, device security, and data security.

iOS Data Security & Access Management

Set a Strong Lock Code

The good news about your iOS device’s passcode is that it both limits access to your device’s data (i.e., someone can’t get into your phone without your passcode) and it encrypts your phone’s data with your passcode (i.e., someone can’t pull the storage device out of your iOS device and access the data stored on it without decrypting it with your passcode). That’s why it’s very important to have a strong passcode. Originally Apple only required a 4-digit numeric passcode, which it upped to a 6-digit numeric code in recent years. While 6 numbers makes for a better passcode than 4 numbers does, 6 numbers isn’t nearly as good as a 6-digit alphanumeric (letters & numbers) passcode.

To Change your Passcode

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Navigate to Touch ID & Passcode (or just Passcode, if your device doesn’t have a Touch ID-enabled Home button).
  3. Enter your current passcode.
  4. Scroll down to Change Passcode.
  5. Enter your current passcode.
  6. By default, there will be a number keyboard for you to enter a numeric keyboard. Tap Passcode Options above the keyboard, then tap Custom Alphanumeric Code.
  7. Enter your new password once, then enter it again to verify that you remember it.
  8. You’re done! Your new passcode has been set, and your iOS device’s data is encrypted with it.

When & Whether to Enable Touch ID

Touch ID is great, as long as you’re not traveling through an airport. Courts have ruled that the TSA can’t make you turn over the password to your computer devices, but they can compel you to put your thumb on your iOS device’s fingerprint sensor—if Touch ID is enabled, that’s the same as handing over your device’s passcode! If you plan on travelling, you should disable Touch ID on your iOS devices at least until you’re out of airports, and you should turn off your phone and other computer devices before going through a TSA / CBP checkpoint.

Depending on the country you’re going to, it may be legal for the authorities to compel you to use your finger to unlock your phone, so you do some research and make sure you don’t need to disable Touch ID for your entire trip. The US is one such country. In the US, law enforcement can compel you to use your finger to unlock your phone, but they cannot compel you to hand over the passcode to your device if you’re a US citizen (your password is protected under the 5th Amendment to the US Constitution, but your biometrics aren’t).

iOS Device Security

Find my iPhone / Find my iPad

If your iPhone or iPad is lost or stolen, Find My iPhone / Find My iPad is pretty much the only way to get it back. Find My iPhone/iPad locates your lost or stolen iOS device on a map, as well as lock your iOS device remotely or erase your data from your device remotely. If your iOS device has been lost or stolen and is not currently online, you can send it the lock or erase commands, and the next time your iOS device connects to the internet it will perform the commands you’ve sent it.

Another feature of Find My iPhone/iPad is called Activation Lock. Once you’ve enabled FInd My iPhone/iPad on a device, it will be unusable to anyone without access to your Apple ID. If your iOS device is stolen and someone erases it to try and use it or sell it, they won’t be able to use the device until they enter your Apple ID password.

To Enable Find My iPhone/iPad...

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Navigate to Apple ID, iCLoud, iTunes & App Store (in the latest version of iOS, it’s at the very top of the list of settings categories).
  3. If you’re not signed into your device with your Apple ID, do so now.
  4. Navigate to iCloud > Find My iPhone (or iPad) > tap the sliding switch next to Find My iPhone to enable it.
  5. You’re done!
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