Life after Yahoo: How iOS users can stay safe online

Don’t skimp on your own online security

Apple, iOS, security, online security, iPhone, iPad
Danny Oosterveer (CC BY-ND 2.0)

This has been a very challenging year when it comes to online security on every platform. We’ve seen some of the biggest online hacks in history; we’ve learned that over a billion Yahoo accounts have been compromised, and Apple recently patched a flaw that let hackers break into Macs.

These incidents are frightening when you think about the banking, personal, location and other data you hold on your iOS and other devices.

There are people trying to get your information. In 2016, over a billion personal records got accessed without permission.

It’s time to protect yourself.

Also read: 11 privacy and security tips for OS X Mac users

The basics

There are several basic tools you should already be using that are baked inside iOS. These include alphanumeric passwords, enabling Find My iPhone, setting auto-lock to 30-seconds and limiting the information shown on the Lock screen. Take a look at this overview of the security settings you should put in place here.

Beyond the basics

For tougher security, you will want to look at virtual private networks, encrypted messaging platforms, and also explore the range of available tools to keep you and your data secure.

A virtual private network (VPN) is always a good place to start. When you use a VPN all the data that you upload and download is encrypted, making the communication much safer.

Enterprises use these to secure their privileged data, and many of us must access a VPN in order to use enterprise applications, others like to protect their online activity from prying eyes. (Here’s an approachable guide).

There are numerous VPN providers, I use NordVPN because it’s so easy to use and offers IKEv2/IPsec security. Other providers include Private Internet Access, Express VPN, Tunnel Bear VPN, but this is by no means a complete list.

Don’t forget that whatever service you use will still have access to what you do online (you need a VPN account), but it will protect you from any but the most committed forms of criminal attack.

Encryption

Another way iOS users can protect themselves is to use encrypted messaging. Now, you do get this in Apple’s iMessage, but you can use other alternatives, including Signal, Tor Messenger, and others. 

The features offered by these apps differ, but if you want to share confidential data (such as patient or clinical data, for example) you may want to take a look.

While I recognize these are sometimes used by bad people, I believe encrypted messaging is also heavily used by the people who protect us from bad people, so I think it has value to everyone in an era in which big firms are getting regularly hacked. 

Protection

Every smartphone is a target, so you should protect the one you own. Apps like Best iPhone Security Pro will ring an alarm when someone touches your iPhone without your permission; while Mac users will want to take a look at LockItUp, an app that lets you lock your Mac (or PC) remotely using your smartphone. 

Solutions like these can provide an additional layer of security over and above the other protection you’ll find inside iOS 10. 

(I think something like LockItUp should be an iOS feature for Mac users, now you can unlock your Mac with an Apple Watch, why not be able to lock it again, remotely?)

Of course, for all the protections you’ve put in place, it’s still possible someone with badness in their heart will break into your iPad, or iPhone. So, what can you do to protect the data you have stored there? 

Notes in iOS 10 lets you create locked notes that can only be opened with a password. You can supplement this using an app. Keeply, for example, provides a PIN-protected space in which you can place personal information, including passwords and other information. 

It also takes photos of anyone who tries to open the app on your phone and has a useful Face Down Lock feature (which does exactly what it’s called). This means that even if someone makes it into your iPhone they’ll need to crack another digital safe to get to your highly confidential company documents.

Hopefully, steps like these will help you stay safer online. If you have any other good suggestions, please drop us a line via one of our social media feeds, even though social media is not secure.

Google+? If you use social media and happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community and join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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