In case you missed it, mobile phones play a central role in today’s society. With a mobile (or cell, for our American readers) for almost every person on the planet they are a truly indispensable part of our lives.

Phones contain our most private information, our inner most secrets, our memories; they also keep us connected to the dangers of the online world. With great opportunity comes an equal measure of threats. People often make it all too easy for a hacker or criminal to gain access to their most private information either through physical access or remote exploitation of the data that resides on the phone.

With a bit of attention and a few simple steps, there are many ways to safeguard your data and this blog outlines some of the steps (mainly for iPhone and iPad users) for maintaining privacy on your mobile devices. Here’s the top 10:

 

1. Set a Pass-code to Unlock Your Device

Pass-codes are the first line of defence in protecting the information stored on your device and the apps which can pull your data from the cloud. Therefore, ensuring that your pass-code is set and strong, through the use of a minimum six digit pass-code could mean the difference between the safety of your phone or being hacked. For more information about secure passwords read our blog here.

 

2. Use Touch ID or Face ID

Face ID or the Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the phone are nearly impossible to bypass and makes it easier for users to unlock their phone without having to remember a long passcode. We recommend enabling these features as a priority.

 

3. Update the Operating System Regularly

Operating System (OS) updates are released by phone manufacturers and app providers whenever a they want to make an improvement to the functionality of the device or app but often because a new security vulnerability has been identified. Always update the software on your phone whenever possible. It doesn’t take long and ensures your phone is up to date with the latest security measures.

 

4. Turn on Two-Step Verification for Apple ID and iCloud

Your iCloud storage has the potential to be extremely vulnerable without proper care. Just ask the celebrities who’ve had their private photos exposed online by hackers (See a list here).

The best way to protect it is by enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) for your Apple ID and iCloud accounts (which are now usually separate accounts). You should also change your password to something unique and complicated. In addition, we recommend that you make the answers to your security questions ones that are not research-able online (e.g. in what city did my parents meet?). You can just make up the answers! If you’ve got an issue remembering this information (like me), use a password manager like LastPass.

 

5. Turn on Two-Factor Authentication for your Email, Social media and Other Apps

We never stop talking about 2FA. That’s because it’s so important. Enabling 2FA on your accounts will make it almost impossible for a hacker to gain then maintain access to your accounts. For more detail, read our guide on enabling 2FA for many of the major online platforms here. Its not difficult and only takes a few minutes to enable.

 

6. Turn off Automatic Sync to iCloud

When you first set up your Apple iOS device and associate it with your Apple ID, all the photos and videos are by default synced with your iCloud storage, i.e. the new photos and videos are automatically uploaded to the iCloud, and are downloaded on all your Apple devices that share the common ID. Although this is the best way to access your media files from anywhere, it makes an additional place for a hacker to gain access to your private information. Saying that, this isn’t really a factor if you have enabled 2FA on your iCloud account (see point 4 above).

 

7. Use an End-to-End Encryption Messaging Services

For an additional layer of protection and better than using SMS, there are several messenger apps which provide encrypted services which help protect your communication with others. iMessage, WhatsApp, Telegram and Facebook messenger allow such services for free and should be used as often as possible.

 

8. Disable Siri on a Lock Screen and Other Notifications

As your phone receives notifications throughout the day, it is important to prevent access to these notifications whilst your phone is locked. If it were to be stolen, the thief could potentially access and exploit sensitive information from email or message notifications on your phone.

 

9. Use Secure Wi-Fi & Avoid Logins in Public

Although your 3G and 4G mobile network data is encrypted, it isn’t foolproof. Despite this, unless you have attracted the attention of a nation state (which is very unlikely for most of our readers), it’s still safer than using the free public Wi-Fi. Caution against accessing private information such as bank account details whilst using public Wi-Fi, as this should either be done via your mobile network or while using a VPN.  There are a range of free and paid for VPN services, all of which will improve the security of data transfer on your iPhone.

 

10. Turn on Find my iPhone or Other Mobile Device Management

By turning on “Find my iPhone”, you will give yourself the option to remotely ‘wipe’ your phone if you accidentally lose it or it gets stolen. Used in combination with a properly protected iCloud account, this step will make sure whoever has your phone isn’t able to access your private information. In addition, there are a range of corporate and enterprise level mobile device management solutions on the market. These perform a similar function to remote wiping but also allow for other protective security measures, such as restrictions on app downloads, websites visited. This is a great solution for businesses and families who want to keen an eye on their most precious assets.

 

We hope that these tips have been useful to you. If you have any issues or if you would like to discuss how our team can support your mobile security needs, you can reach us at any time at info@marclay.co.uk or by calling us on +44(0) 203 0393394