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Four Easy Steps to Protecting Your Privacy on an iPhone

In today’s world, we use smartphones for more than just making calls.  From emailing, to calendaring events, to taking photos, we store so much data on our handhelds.  We sometimes even store important financial information and credentials on our smartphones.  It is handy to have all your information in one place.  However with convenience comes risk.  Make sure to take the time to tighten your security settings on your handheld.  It is important to take additional steps to protect your data.  Data in the wrong hands can be catastrophic.

With many smartphone choices out there, one of the most popular is the iPhone, with its sleek style and easy-to-use functions.  Below are some simple steps you can take to tighten the security of your information on your iPhone.

  • Your iPhone is tracking you. 
    ​Did you know that your iPhone keeps track of places you have been, detailing even how long you were at each location?  This feature is turned on by default.  If this data on your iPhone makes you nervous about your privacy, you can turn it off.  Go to Settings→Privacy→Location Services→ Scroll all the way down to System Services→Frequent Locations, turn it off.  Before you turn off this feature you may also see the phone history and clear it.
     
  • Photos you take on your iPhone include the date and location on each picture.
    iPhone photos record where and when the photo was taken (along with a lot more information).  If you send a photo to someone and have location settings turned on for your camera application (on by default), location metadata is stored in each photo.  The recipient of your photo may take the longitude and latitude information from the photo, pop it into a search on the Internet and find out your location, which could be your home, work, school, even down to the time and date the photo was taken, this discovering where you are – and where you are not!  To protect yourself make sure this setting is turned off on your phone.  Go to Settings→ Privacy→ Location Services, scroll down to Camera and then to Photos (if photo is listed) and make sure “never” is selected for both.
     
  • Use an alphanumeric password, instead of a simple 4 digit code.
    Set stronger security by using alphanumeric passwords to unlock your phone.  By creating an alphanumeric password it reduces your chances of someone guessing their way into your phone without permission.  It is easy to set up.  Go to Settings→TouchID & Passcode (or Passcode) → scroll down – if by default it is set to a simple passcode, turn it off.  You will then be prompted to create a new code with both letters and numbers. 
     
  • Guided Access, locking down access to only one application.
    Another great security feature is Guided Access.  If you need to show someone an application on your smartphone, you are able to lock the smartphone down to just that one application.  No need to worry about them being able to access emails, notes or other information.  Make sure Guided Access is first turned on. Go to Settings→ General→ Accessibility→ scroll down to Guided Access and turn it on.  To activate Guided Access in an application, open the application and press the home button three times.  You are now restricted to only that application.  To deactivate, press the home button three times again and select end, then enter your password.  With Guided Access you are able to lock access to only the current application.

Take the time to learn how to be more secure with your smartphone.  There are many ways to find out more about smartphone devices, from picking up a guide at a local bookstore or searching online.  The easiest way to learn is to search online for the specific feature you want.  You would be surprised, if you are thinking it, someone probably out there already had the same question and it has been answered!  There may even be a forum set up on how to do it.

*Please note these steps were done in iOS version 8.0. With older versions of iOS the location of settings may be different.  While these are suggestions of changes you can make to your iPhone always consult your IT professional or refer to your company’s technology polices before making any changes.