How to Secure Your iPhone’s Data and Privacy

Iphone Safeguard

If you’re an iPhone user, you might feel complacent knowing Apple offers remarkable security to its consumers. However, there’s no such thing as perfect. Even with Apple’s devices, your information within is still vulnerable to cyber-attacks. That’s why you should utilize this list of iPhone privacy features and settings to better protect your data.

1. Use a Strong Passcode

Your passcode is your iPhone’s first layer of protection against unwanted access to your phone’s data. Every smartphone operating system you know requires you to set a passcode when you first turn one of their products on. You won’t even get past the new phone set up without setting a passcode. At the same time, the setup process forgets one thing about passcodes. It’s that passcodes — which are gateways to smartphones — need to be strong.

A strong passcode in today’s world means your code should consist of a mix of lower and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols. I agree that it’s bothersome to think of a strong passcode that you’ll remember, especially if it has random symbols and numbers you’ll forget if you don’t use the code every day.

Fortunately, you’ll be using your phone a lot and it’ll be impossible to forget the key that opens it for you. It’ll also be required anytime you change most iPhone privacy settings. That being said, setting up a strong, secure passcode is highly beneficial for your phone security. With a secure passcode, it’ll be difficult for other people to access your phone without your permission.

How to Add or Change Your iPhone Passcode

  1. On your iPhone’s home screen, tap on the gear icon to go into “Settings.”
  2. Go to “Face ID & Passcode” or “Touch ID & Passcode.”
Iphone Privacy Features Settings Passcode
  1. Enter your current passcode.
  1. Tap “Change Passcode.”
Iphone Privacy Features Settings Change Passcode
  1. Again, punch in your current passcode.
  1. Enter your new passcode or tap “Passcode Options” to change your passcode type to any of the following:
  • Custom Alphanumeric Code – Can contain mix of lower and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Custom Numeric Code – For setting numeric passcodes that are more than 6 digits long.
  • 6-Digit Numeric Code
  • 4-Digit Numeric Code
Iphone Privacy Features Settings Passcode Options
  1. After deciding on your new and more secure passcode, type it down and follow the next steps of re-entering your new passcode.

Make sure to remember your new passcode. If you forget it and fail to unlock your iPhone multiple times, it will get disabled until you restore the backup using from iTunes. If you don’t religiously back up your iPhone’s contents, you’ll lose everything on your iPhone.

Moreover, restoring your iPhone means you’ll have to set it up again. However, you’ll have to log in with the Apple ID you used to activate it when you first powered it up out-of-the-box. If you don’t remember and can’t recover that Apple ID anymore, you’ll be stuck with an unusable iPhone that’s stuck in the activation stage.

2. Set up Face ID or Touch ID

Aside from setting passcodes, the fifth to the latest generation of the iPhone offers Touch ID or Face ID as additional iPhone privacy features. If you didn’t know how to tell iPhones with Touch or Face ID apart, just remember that if you have a home button, your iPhone has Touch ID. But if you don’t, your iPhone has Face ID.

The additional layer of security and convenience provided by Face ID and Touch ID is useful if you want to skip typing in your passcode every time you want to open your iPhone. However, if your phone fails to recognize your face or fingerprint, you still need the passcode you set to get in.

Unlike passcodes, the use of Face ID and Touch ID are optional. You can opt not to use them if you’re not a fan of unlocking your device with biometrics.

But if you want to set up Face ID or Touch ID on your iPhone, below is a guide you can follow.

How to Set up Face ID or Apple ID

  1. Go to “Settings” with the gear icon.
  2. Go to “Face ID & Passcode” or “Touch ID & Passcode.”
Iphone Privacy Features Settings Passcode
  1. Enter your passcode and tap “Set Up Face ID” if your iPhone has Face ID or “Add a Fingerprint” if it has Touch ID.
Iphone Privacy Features Settings Add Fingerprint
  1. Follow the instructions for each.

If you’re worried your iPhone won’t recognize you if you have your glasses on, don’t be. It will recognize you even with it on, as long as your face isn’t covered to the point that you’re unrecognizable.

For Touch ID, dry your hands because your iPhone’s touch sensor won’t recognize your fingerprint if your skin is wet. The same applies when trying to unlock your iPhone with Touch ID when your hands are wet.

3. Turn On Find My

Apple’s Find My app is one of the most useful iPhone privacy features. The Find My app allows you to track your Apple devices and items that have AirTags attached to them. What’s better about Find My is that it works not only with iPhone, but also iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and AirPods. The app provides the approximate location of your connected devices even when they’re not connected to the internet.

Additionally, if you have devices connected to your Apple ID, you can play a sound to locate them, turn on notifications for when they’re found, mark devices as lost, and erase the contents of devices.

Lastly, you can locate devices under the accounts in your Family Sharing settings. This is a useful feature if your family member lost their device and they don’t have other Apple devices to check their own Find My app.

Turning on Find My is simple. You just need to open the Find My app and log in to your Apple ID. Once you’re logged in, you should see the devices connected to your Apple ID and the following:

  • Connection status (offline or online)
  • Battery level
  • Approximate location of the devices on the map
  • Directions to the devices’ locations
Iphone Privacy Features Find My

4. Add Account Recovery Contacts

Recovery contacts aren’t something new. It’s been around for ages but sadly isn’t something all of us utilize. Almost every platform where you have to sign up for an account allows you to add recovery contacts, so adding a few trusted people for your Apple ID shouldn’t be a problem.

In fact, having recovery contacts will help you regain access to your account in case you forget your credentials and fail to recover your Apple ID. Further, Apple doesn’t require you to add recovery contacts but doing so is highly recommended.

Accordingly, your recovery contacts should have iOS 15, iPadOS 15, or macOS Monterey or later. They should also be over the age of 13. As for yourself, your Apple ID should have two-factor authentication turned on and your device should have a passcode set up.

If everything checks out, you can jump to adding recovery contacts using your iPhone, Mac, or iPad.

How to Add Recovery Contacts

  1. Go to “Settings.”
  2. Tap [Your Name].
Iphone Privacy Features Apple Id
  1. Go to “Password & Security.”
Iphone Privacy Features Apple Id Password And Security 1
  1. Tap “Account Recovery.”
Iphone Privacy Features Account Recovery
  1. Tap “+ Add Recovery Contact.”
Iphone Privacy Features Account Recovery Add Contact
  1. Read the reminders and tap “Add Recovery Contact.”
Iphone Privacy Features Account Recovery Add Contact Start
  1. Choose your recovery contact from the list or tap “Choose Someone Else” and select from your contacts.
Iphone Privacy Features Account Recovery Select Contact
  1. Once you’ve chosen a contact, tap “Next” at the top right of your screen.
  2. Send your recovery contact a message to let them know you’re adding them as your recovery contact. You can edit the message if you want to.
Iphone Privacy Features Account Recovery Message Contact 1
  1. You’re all set! Tap “Done” to exit out of the setup screen.
Iphone Privacy Features Account Recovery Done 1

5. Create a Recovery Key

In the same place where the recovery contacts section is, you’ll find the option to create a recovery key for your Apple ID. A recovery key will function as the code that will help you restore all your data in the event that you lost your Apple ID’s trusted devices and can’t log in to your account.

iPhone privacy features such as this one makes sure that you get back into your account after losing your log-in credentials, and is also handy in case your password gets exposed and changed by someone else.

How to Create a Recovery Key

  1. Go to “Settings.”
  2. Tap [Your Name].
Iphone Privacy Features Apple Id 1
  1. Go to “Password & Security.”
Iphone Privacy Features Apple Id Password And Security 1
  1. Tap “Account Recovery.”
Iphone Privacy Features Account Recovery 1
  1. Tap “Recovery Key.”
Iphone Privacy Features Recovery Key
  1. Tap on the toggle beside “Recovery Key.”
Iphone Privacy Features Recovery Key Toggle
  1. Tap “Use Recovery Key.”
Iphone Privacy Features Recovery Key Use
  1. Enter your current passcode.
  2. Write down your recovery key and store it in a secure place and tap “Continue.”
Iphone Privacy Features Recovery Key Key
  1. Verify your recovery key to ensure you wrote down the correct one and tap “Next.”
Iphone Privacy Features Recovery Key Verify

You’ll be directed back to the Recovery Key screen where you can turn off the Recovery Key function and create a new one.

6. Add Legacy Contacts

Apple’s Digital Legacy Program allows you to add up to five legacy contacts that will be the people who will gain access to your data after your death. However, they need to provide documentation that will prove your passing or incapacity.

It’s one of Apple’s great iPhone privacy features because it helps you take care of your data even when you’re not around anymore. Instead of your information locked inside your account forever, you can have people you trust to take care of it for you.

Setting up legacy contacts is easy and it’s just like adding recovery contacts. Here’s an in-depth guide on adding legacy contacts.

7. Use Hide My Email

Apple’s Hide My Email lets you generate different email addresses to use on apps, websites, emails, and many more. Further, you can generate multiple emails that will receive emails and forward them to your real email addresses. Hide My Email is one of Apple’s iPhone privacy features that secures your information to prevent exposing your real email address.

However, it’s only available if you’re subscribed to iCloud+.

How to Use Hide My Email

  1. Go to “Settings.”
Iphone Privacy Features Apple Id 1
  1. Tap [Your Name].
Iphone Privacy Features Apple Id 1
  1. Tap “iCloud.”
Iphone Privacy Hide My Email Icloud
  1. Go to “Hide My Email.”
Iphone Privacy Hide My Email
  1. You’ll see the created emails from your previous sign-ins using Apple. Tap “+ Create new address.”
Iphone Privacy Hide My Email Create
  1. Note down your generated email address. You can also tap “Use different address” to generate a different email. Once you’re done picking, tap “Continue.”
Iphone Privacy Hide My Email Select
  1. Label your new email address and tap “Next.”
Iphone Privacy Hide My Email Label
  1. Tap “Done.”
Iphone Privacy Hide My Email Done

You’re set with a new random and unique email address. Now you can use it how you want and get the emails forwarded to your real email address.

8. Manage Your App Tracking Settings

When iOS 14.5 was released, advertisers around the world were disappointed with Apple’s decision to allow its users to prevent cross-application tracking. This is because marketers need data on how you interact with stuff on the web, which helps them throw relevant ads your way.

If you like ads tailored to things you’re interested in, you can allow apps on your phone to track your activity outside of it by allowing tracking in Settings and every time you install a new app.

How to Change App Tracking Settings

  1. Go to “Settings.”
  2. Tap “Privacy.”
Iphone Privacy Features Tracking
  1. Tap “Tracking.”
Iphone Privacy Features Tracking Select
  1. You can toggle “Allow Apps to Request to Track” off to turn off tracking for all apps or turn tracking on and off for specific apps on your phone.
Iphone Privacy Features Tracking Settings 2

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What happens if I fail my passcode attempts?

Your iPhone will get disabled for one minute after you fail six passcode attempts in a row. After a minute, you can try again. If you fail on your seventh attempt, your iPhone will be disabled for five minutes. Next, the 8th failed attempt will disable the iPhone for 15 minutes. Lastly, your 10th attempt will disable your passcode for an hour.

If there’s no luck after an hour, you’re better off restoring your iPhone using iTunes on your computer.

2. Will I still get phishing and other unwanted emails even when I’m using Hide My Email?

Yes. Using Hide My Email only hides your real email address which prevents it from being used to access your accounts that are connected to it. This is because Hide My Email still forwards all emails received to your real email address and it has no mechanism to recognize phishing and unwanted emails.

Alternatively, you can block or report as spam the email addresses of unwanted emails senders.

3. Will these iPhone privacy features ensure data protection?

No. As said in the beginning, there’s no perfect security system. Even the most sophisticated security facilities get breaches every now and then, and Apple is no stranger to cyber attacks. That’s why the best way is to utilize privacy features provided by updates and take little steps on your end as a user to protect your information.

Natalie dela Vega
Natalie dela Vega

Natalie is a writer specializing in tech how-tos and gaming. When she's not writing, she plays PC games and travels. Here at MakeTechEasier, you will see her write about guides, tips, and solutions for Windows and iOS.

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