iOS Security: How to Maximize Security & Privacy on iPhone?
If you own an iPhone, you're lucky enough to use one of the most secure mobile devices that are available today. Apple offers some of the strongest security and privacy protections right out of the box, so the chances of your device being hacked, or your data falling into the wrong hands, is slim. However, it's not impossible — and iPhone users have fallen victim to attacks in the past.
Although traditional malware and spyware aren't really a problem on the iPhone, there are other, more novel attacks that Apple fans should be mindful of. iPhone, like any other modern device, can be susceptible to insecure networks that have been created to steal data, and phishing attempts are just as common on iPhone as they are on any other device.
Security is not only about your device per se, but also about your online activity. We recommend using Clario to browse safely with VPN, block ads, and monitor your online accounts 24/7. Getting started in easy:
- Install Clario on your device
- Follow mobile protection setup steps
- Enable Browsing protection and check Device category to make sure your iPhone and online life is secured
How secure is iOS?
iOS is widely considered the most secure mobile operating system. The protections Apple has put in place, along with its strict App Store policies and refusal to allow side-loading apps from other sources, mean that things like malware attacks are incredibly rare. That doesn't mean the iPhone is completely immune to viruses and other malicious software — especially if you decide to jailbreak your device and install packages from third-party sources.
Apple is just as concerned about user privacy, so it gives users a number of handy tools that help keep their data safe, prevent tracking, and more. But unlike preventing malware attacks, it's more difficult to ensure your data stays protected, since much of the responsibility for that comes down to the user — how they use their device and their own privacy precautions.
Ensuring your iPhone is up to date is an important part of keeping it secure. With every major software update, Apple steps up its security and privacy protections. Its most recent iOS 15 update, which rolled out to everyone this fall, for instance, adds tools like iCloud Private Relay and Hide My Email, which make it even more difficult for third parties to track your habits and interests, and build profiles on you. It also offers strong data encryption as standard.
iPhone security issues
Because iPhone security is so good, attackers and scammers have had to look to more novel ways to fool iOS users into handing over data — or their hard-earned cash. Some of these often include:
- Phishing attacks: These are emails disguised to look like they are sent from the likes of Apple, Amazon, PayPal, and other big companies. They typically say your account has been locked and you must log in to unlock it, or they ask you to confirm payment details. But when you click the links in the email, you are taken to a third-party website — again disguised to look like the real thing — where any information you enter is stolen. You may remember the massive iCloud hack that affected countless celebrities in 2014, and led to hundreds of personal photos and videos being leaked online. That was the result of simple phishing attacks that fooled unsuspecting celebrities into handing over their Apple ID login details
- "Fleeceware" apps: These are a little more difficult to weed out because they're distributed via the App Store, which is usually free from scams and malware. Fleeceware apps trick users — typically children — into taking out bogus subscriptions that come with extortionate fees. Apple faced criticism this year for promoting a bunch of slime apps aimed at children in Australia. Almost all of them offered subscriptions, which did nothing but unlock different colored slimes and simple features that cost as much as $676 a year.
- Hardware hacks: Some sophisticated hardware attacks have also been developed to try to crack iPhone's security system without relying on a remote invasion. Back in 2019, one research team developed the O.MG Cable, which looks just like a genuine Lightning cable that's distributed with every iPhone. But unlike an original Apple cable, this one has a built-in hotspot that a hacker can connect to to steal your iPhone's data.
The good news is that attacks like the O.MG Cable are pretty simple to evade by not using untrusted accessories with the iPhone. And when it comes to avoiding fleeceware, you simply need to ensure that any services you subscribe to are trusted and worth their monthly fees. It's also a great idea to make sure that if you have kids, they aren't able to authorize purchases themselves.
How to set-up your built-in iOS security
When you buy an iPhone, many of its security features come enabled right out of the box — or are baked into the device's hardware itself, such as the Secure Enclave that protects your data by preventing a device from booting up if it has been tampered with, so they just ... work. But there are things you can do to step up your iOS security and privacy.
Create a passcode lock
When setting up a new iPhone, you will be prompted to create a passcode lock — and to enable Face ID or Touch ID (depending on which model you have). Don't skip this step. Without a passcode lock, anyone can open your iPhone and access whatever data they want to get their hands on, such as messages, photos, notes, and contact details.
If you did skip this step and need to create a passcode lock later, here's what to do:
- Open the Settings app and tap Face ID & Passcode or Touch ID & Passcode
- Tap Turn Passcode On
- Follow the steps to create a passcode
Once you've done this, you will also be prompted to set up Face ID or Touch ID.
Encrypt your backups
If your iPhone is backed up to iCloud, your data is automatically encrypted by default. That means that if it somehow manages to make its way into someone else's hands, they cannot access it. However, this is not the case when you back up your device to a Mac or Windows PC. But you can enable encrypted backups by following these steps:
- On a Mac running macOS Catalina 10.15 or later, open the Finder. On a Mac running macOS Mojave 10.14 or earlier, or on a Windows PC, open iTunes
- Connect your iPhone to your computer using a Lightning cable
- When your device shows up in the Finder or iTunes, select it, then click the General tab
- Under Backups, check the box next to Encrypt local backups
- Create a password for your backups when prompted
Be sure to remember this password because you'll need it to restore your data later if your iPhone needs to be reset, or you replace it with a new one. Once your backup is encrypted, no one else can access its data, even if your computer is stolen.
Use two-factor authentication for your Apple ID
If someone else gains access to your Apple ID account, they could sign into iCloud on the web and access things like photos, notes, and contact information. But by enabling two-factor authentication for your Apple ID, it would be impossible for them to log in — even if they have obtained your email address and password.
Two-factor authentication adds an additional step to the login process by requiring you to enter a unique code that is sent to you by text message. Without that code, your account remains locked. Here's how to enable two-factor authentication for your Apple ID on iPhone:
- Open the Settings app
- Tap your name at the top of the screen, then select Password & Security
- Tap Turn On Two-Factor Authentication, then follow the on-screen steps to continue
Use iCloud+ to protect your privacy
If you've updated your iPhone to iOS 15 — and you should to ensure it is as secure as can be — you may want to take advantage of iCloud+ to bolster your privacy protections. It's a paid service, but prices start at just $0.99 a month, and if you're already paying for additional iCloud storage, you get iCloud+ included at no extra cost.
The two primary privacy features you should look at in iCloud+ are Private Relay and Hide My Email.
Private Relay is a little like a VPN in that it routes your Safari traffic through different servers so that it cannot be seen by your internet provider or the websites you visit. It's one of the easiest ways to prevent third-party companies from keeping track of your browsing habits and building profiles on you, which are typically used to serve you targeted ads.
Here's how to enable Private Relay once you have an iCloud+ subscription:
- Open the Settings app
- Tap your name at the top of the screen, then select iCloud
- Select Private Relay, then tap the toggle to enable it
Note, however, that unlike a true VPN, which masks all your traffic in all apps, Private Relay only works for Safari. If you want to hide all traffic, or change your location so you can access services that are exclusive to other regions, a proper VPN would be more suitable.
Hide My Email
Hide My Email lets you create unique and completely random email addresses that you can use to sign up for things like newsletters and online forums so that you don't have to share your personal email address. All messages are forwarded to your primary inbox so you won't miss them, and you can reply to them if you need to, but your real email address is never revealed.
Hide My Email doesn't need to be enabled like Private Relay; iOS 15 on your iPhone will simply ask you if you want to use it whenever you're filling out an online form, signing up to a new app, and in other situations that call for an email address.
One of the simplest, most effective ways to protect your privacy on an iPhone is to just be more vigilant about what you do online. While Apple's security systems are a great help, it's up to you to avoid things like phishing attempts and malicious websites that can steal your data.
Check the sender's address on incoming emails to ensure they are genuine — especially when it asks you to provide information — and if you need to log into an online service, visit the website manually, rather than clicking a link in an email. And if you ever stumble across a website that seems suspicious — or you get a warning on your iPhone to tell you it's insecure — close the page.
How to get additional iOS protections
If the iPhone security system doesn't feel like enough to you, there are third-party apps and services you can use to strengthen your protections even further. As we mentioned above, a VPN is a great choice for those looking to keep their browsing habits a secret, and there are other services that can monitor for things like data breaches, and secure you on public networks.
Clario Mobile Security is an all-in-one solution that delivers all of that and more in one simple package. It offers an ultra-fast VPN that masks your online activity across all apps and services, and a real-time monitoring feature that immediately informs you of any data leaks that your personal information — email addresses, phone numbers, credit card details, and more — is involved in.
Clario also offers an ad blocker for iOS, which not only makes your browsing experience faster and more enjoyable, but makes it even more difficult for advertisers to build profiles about you. And it protects you when you use public Wi-Fi networks that are notoriously unsafe.
You can download Clario on iPhone today and take advantage of its seven-day free trial to test out its features and find out how they can benefit you.