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This chapter is from the book

Securing Your iPhone

Even though you won’t often be connecting a cable to it, an iPhone is a connected device, meaning that it sends information to and receives information from other devices, either directly or via the Internet, during many different activities. Some are obvious, such as sending text messages or browsing the Web, while others might not be so easy to spot, such as when an app is determining your iPhone’s location. Whenever data is exchanged between your iPhone and other devices, there is always a chance your information will get intercepted by someone you didn’t intend or that someone will access your iPhone without you knowing about it.

The good news is that with some simple precautions, the chances of someone obtaining your information or infiltrating your iPhone are quite small (much less than the chance of someone obtaining your credit card number when you use it in public places, for example). Following are some good ways to protect the information you are using on your iPhone:

  • Configure a passcode and fingerprint (if your iPhone supports Touch ID, which is Apple’s fingerprint recognition technology) on your iPhone so that the passcode must be entered, or your fingerprint scanned, to be able to use it. Configuring a passcode is explained in Chapter 4, “Configuring an iPhone to Suit Your Preferences.”
  • Never let someone you don’t know or trust use your iPhone, even if he needs it “just for a second to look something up.” If you get a request like that, look up the information for the person and show him rather than letting him touch your iPhone.
  • Learn how to use the Find My iPhone feature in case you lose or someone steals your iPhone. This is explained in Chapter 16, “Maintaining and Protecting Your iPhone and Solving Problems,” which you’ll find on this book’s website (see the back cover for the information you need to access it).
  • Never respond to an email that you aren’t expecting requesting that you click a link to verify your account. If you haven’t requested some kind of change, such as signing up for a new service, virtually all such requests are scams, seeking to get your account information, such as username and password, or your identification, such as full name and Social Security number. And many of these scam attempts look like email from actual organizations; for example, I receive many of these emails that claim, and sometimes even look like, they are from Apple, but Apple doesn’t request updates to account information using a link in an email unless you have made some kind of change, such as registering a new email address for iMessages. Legitimate organizations never include links in an email to update account information when you haven’t requested or made any changes. Requests from legitimate organizations will provide instructions for you to visit a website to provide needed information.
  • To reinforce this concept, there are two types of requests for verification you might receive via email. The legitimate type is sent to you after you sign up for a new service, such as creating a new account on a website, to confirm that the email address you provided is correct and that you are really you. If you make changes to an existing account, you might also receive confirmation request emails. You should respond to these requests to finish the configuration of your account.

    If you receive a request for account verification, but you haven’t done anything with the organization from which you received the request, don’t respond to it. For example, if you receive a request that appears to be from Apple, PayPal, or other organizations, but you haven’t made any changes to your account, the email request is bogus and is an attempt to scam you. Likewise, if you have never done anything with the organization apparently sending the email, it is also definitely an attempt to scam you.

    If you have any doubt, contact the organization sending the request before responding to the email.

  • If you need to change or update account information, always go directly to the related website using an address that you type in or have saved as a bookmark.
  • Be aware that when you use a Wi-Fi network in a public place, such as a coffee shop, hotel, or airport, there is a chance that the information you send over that network might be intercepted by others. The risk of this is usually quite small, but you need to be aware that there is always some level of risk. To have the lowest risk, don’t use apps that involve sensitive information, such as an online banking app, when you are using a Wi-Fi network in a public place.
  • If you don’t know how to do it, have someone who really knows what they are doing set up a wireless network in your home. Wireless networks need to be configured properly, so they are secure. Your home’s Wi-Fi network should require a password to join. (Fortunately, as you learn shortly, your iPhone remembers your password, so you only have to enter it once.)
  • For the least risk, only use your home’s Wi-Fi network (that has been configured properly) or your cellular data connection (you can turn Wi-Fi off when you aren’t home) for sensitive transactions, such as accessing bank accounts or other financial information.
  • Never accept a request to share information from someone you don’t know. Later in this chapter, you learn about AirDrop, which enables you to easily share photos and lots of other things with other people using iOS devices. If you receive an AirDrop request from someone you don’t recognize, always decline it. In fact, if you have any doubt, decline such requests. It’s much easier for someone legitimate to confirm with you and resend a request than it is for you to recover from damage that can be done if you inadvertently accept a request from someone you don’t know.
  • Only download apps through Apple’s App Store through the App Store app on your iPhone. Fortunately, the way the iPhone is set up, you have to do something very unusual to install apps outside of the App Store. As long as you download apps only as described in this book, you are free of apps that can harm your information because Apple has strict controls over the apps that make it into the App Store. (Downloading apps is explained in Chapter 6, “Downloading Apps, Music, Movies, TV Shows, and More onto Your iPhone.”)
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Last Update: November 17, 2020