A Little Extra Security for Your iPhone / iPad

Unlock Screen

How many times have you lost your iPhone?

How many times have you thought you lost your iPhone and breathed a huge sigh of relief when you finally found it?

If the answer to either of these questions is – “More than once”. Then this article may interest you.

OK – So I lost my phone – What’s the worst that can happen – I just need to buy a new phone right?

That’s how I had been thinking until last time I mislaid my iPhone. (Thankfully, it turned up in the bottom of a bag).

Afterwards, I got to thinking:

I can’t afford a new phone but at least that’s just a phone. But could someone actually get into my phone and see my data? And if so how easy would that be?

Well – Doubtless there are all sorts of clever tools to enable criminals to do that. But we’re assuming here that someone just happened to pick up your phone and that they don’t have a big background in the hacking field.

If your phone is switched off by the thief then you can notify your carrier and in some cases they will block the IMEI number, if you have record of it, which effectively makes the phone useless.

But what if they try to break into your phone? How much is all your data worth? Even though you have it backed up on iTunes, the data is usually “worth” more than the phone itself. How easy would it be for someone to guess my passcode?

Naaa, not possible it would take weeks right?

Nope. If you are using the default standard 4 digit passcode, there are 10,000 possible combinations. It takes about 2 seconds to manually enter a sequence of 4 digits.

10,000 X 2 seconds = only about 5 and a half hours. And that is if the person entering the digits happened to be unlucky enough to not enter the correct 4 digit combination until his 10,000th attempt! Scary eh?

So here’s a few simple things you can do to make things a little more difficult for the scumbag who’s got your iPhone.

Enable Find My iPhone.

I’m not going to include detailed instructions on this one here, as you can easily find out how to do that by following the instructions from the App itself.

Find My iPhone
Find My iPhone

If your phone is still switched on, you can locate it with another iPhone, iPad or a computer. This can be quite accurate but the great thing here is that you can remotely wipe the data from your phone. And if the thief is trying to break into your phone, it will be switched on.

Disable Simple Passcode

Many people aren’t even aware that this is possible.

Simple Passcode OFF
Simple Passcode OFF

Once you have disabled the Simple Passcode, you can now make a password that can be any combination of letters and numbers. Even 4 characters (letters or digits) makes the number of combination guesses over 400,000, which would take about 8 days to try all combinations. Remember that was just 4 characters. It’s likely your password will be more than 4.

If you have disabled the Simple Passcode you will now be met with this screen when you want to unlock your iPhone:

Unlock Screen
Unlock Screen

What are the disadvantages? Well it is much more difficult to unlock your iPhone, for example when you’re driving… Great – That’s a plus then! How many times have you almost been knocked over when out, by some idiot using their phone whilst driving – Some cretins even attempt to write text whilst at the wheel.

A friend of mine summed up his sentiments on this:

Hey great – Go ahead and kill yourself but don’t put my life at risk and your passengers in danger because of your need to post on Facebook whilst controlling a vehicle.

Voice Dialing

If you find that using a full password is slowing you down, you can enable voice dialing from the lock screen. This means you can hold down the Home button until you get the voice prompt and say “Call John Smith” in order to call John Smith.

Voice Dialing from Lock Screen
Voice Dialing from Lock Screen

Of course this means that anyone finding your phone could dial anyone in your contact list without unlocking your device.

Erase Data

Another thing that can be done is to turn on Erase Data. This will erase all data from your Phone if the password is entered incorrectly 10 times.

Erase Data After 10 Attempts
Erase Data After 10 Attempts

I’m not sure how I feel about this. I have my iPhone in a case, so “pocket dialing” isn’t a problem. But it did occur to me that a friend could quite easily trash your data as a rather cruel joke if you happened to leave your device lying around.

Many of you will already know about these things I am sure but if there is even one person who reads this that didn’t know you could set up a more robust password for your iDevice, then I am happy to have enlightened you.

Cheers and thanks for reading.