7 Simple Steps to Increase Your iPhone Security

2016 marked the year that the billionth iPhone was sold, making it one of the most ubiquitous products of all time. Despite this, many of Apple's millions of customers have absolutely no idea about iPhone security and often make small, simple mistakes that leave them vulnerable to malware, hackers and thieves. For this reason, we've made a list of 7 easy things that you can do to your iPhone right now that will dramatically increase your iPhone security.

1. Create a strong passcode

Yes we know how annoying it is to have to punch in anything more complicated than '5555' every time you want to open your phone, but passcodes are about security, not convenience! Since thumbprint unlocking means you no longer have to type your own passcode in every time you want to access your phone, why not take the chance to set up a more complicated passcode, meaning nobody can break into your phone easily if it is lost or stolen. Check out these instructions on how to create an alphanumeric password, for that extra layer of iPhone security.

2. Ensure your lock screen provides iPhone security

The strongest passcode in the world can't protect you when your sensitive data is being revealed on your iPhone lock screen. Unless you control these settings, thieves can still reply to text messages and use Siri to access data, before even trying to unlock your phone. This is especially risky since banks and other companies often send security information such as passwords via text. By going to Settings > Touch ID & Passcodes, you can limit what anyone is able to access when your phone is locked. For ultimate iPhone security, we suggest you disable all options.

3. Regularly update your phone

Apple regularly updates iPhone software not only to unveil cool new features but also in order to fix flaws that have been discovered in their security system. For example, in August of this year the hacking of a human right's lawyers phone in Saudi Arabia revealed a way that spyware could be easily downloaded to iOS devices. Apple responded quickly and within 10 days released an update that fixed the problem. So by regularly updating your iPhone you can be assured that you are being protected to the best of Apple's abilities.

3. Disable the Frequent Locations feature

For security nerds, the Frequent Locations feature is one of the most terrifying aspects in relation to iPhone Security. What's so alarming about it? Essentially the feature is used to track where you visit, how often your visit there and for how long. This means that if you haven't disabled this feature, your iPhone probably has a pretty good idea of your daily routine. Before your freak out, there is a pretty simple way to disable Frequent Locations on your iPhone by going to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Frequent Locations. Once in Frequent Locations you can disable the feature and clear your history.

4. Restrict which apps can access your location

Any iPhone user will be familiar with the little pop-up you receive when you download a new app that asks whether that app have access to your location. Yet while it is easy to just click 'OK' and then forget about it, take a moment to ask yourself if this app really does need access to your location in order to perform it's services. Your location is one of the most personal things your device can know about you and by clicking 'OK' you are giving this information to a third-party who you may not be able to trust. Go to Settings > Privacy > Location in order to control these settings, if you don't want to turn it off completely you can at least limit your apps to only accessing your location when in use.

5. Set up two-factor authentication

This one isn't only about iPhone security, but instead is an essential security tip for all Apple ID users in general. The way two-factor authentication works, is that every time you sign into a new device using your Apple ID you will be asked not only to provide your password, but also a verification code that will be displayed on one of your trusted devices. This means that even if a hacker is able to gain access to your password, they can't login to your account without one of your devices. This extra layer of security is vital as so much information is stored on your Apple ID, including payment information. In order to set this up, go to Settings > iCloud > tap on Apple ID > Password & Security > Set Up Two-Factor Authentication.

6. Enable Safari security features

If you use Safari to access the web on your phone then go to Settings > Safari. Here there are a few simple things you can do to make your browsing more secure. We recommend you turn on 'Fraudulent Website Warning', the 'Do Not Track' option and also change the Block Cookies option to 'Always Block', to avoid your behaviour being tracked online. You should also regularly clear your history and website data, especially after using your online banking.

7. Download a VPN

Yet changing all these settings still won't protect you from one of the biggest threats to iPhone security: public wi-fi networks. Public wi-fi networks, such as those found in coffee shops, are dangerous as you can't know how secure the connection is. In fact, it is pretty simple for anyone with some basic hacking knowledge to gain access to any of the data being shared over public wi-fi networks, including credit card details and passwords. A VPN adds an extra layer of encryption to your data and makes it impossible for hackers to view any of your information online. So before you login to your online banking in Starbucks, download ZenMate to your iPhone in order to keep all of your personal information secure. Need more information about VPNs and how they work? Check out this article 'What is a VPN?' for more info.