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These the security settings you should change right now. (Getty Images)
Our devices are packed with account credentials, contacts, emails, photos, videos and more that we definitely don’t want in the wrong hands. The problem is we get our devices and just start using them, giving little thought to the risks.
Your iPhone or iPad might have a virus and malware right now, sending your confidential data to who knows who. Tap or click here to check your phone or tablet for a virus or malware and clean it up if you do.
Far too many people think that if they have an Apple product they are immune to viruses and malware. What phones do you think are most vulnerable to getting hacked? What about apps? Tap or click for the answers that will definitely surprise you.
Here are security settings you need to activate, whether you’ve got a brand new iPhone or an iPad you’ve had for years. Not only will your device be safer to use, your social media accounts and privacy will benefit too.
- Create a secure passcode and turn on biometrics
iOS devices are acclaimed for their security. In fact, competitors actively try to copy some of Apple’s most secure systems like Apple Pay, Touch ID and Face ID.
When you first set up your device, you’ll be prompted to create a passcode. Many people try to skim through this section any create something “easy,” but your passcode shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s the main way you lock your phone from the outside world, and leaving it unsecured leaves it open to bad actors.
UPGRADE YOUR APPS: Apps are a great way to get even more out of your phone. Tap or click here for 10 apps I have on my phone that you’ll want too.
Upon booting up your device, follow the passcode prompts and select a combination of digits that is easy enough to remember, yet tough enough to be secure. You may want to write it down, just in case you forget it.
By default, the system will have you set up a 6-digit code, which is quite secure. Don’t reduce the digits, even if it may seem easier. Your security is worth it in the long run.
If you missed or glossed over this part of the setup, open the Settings app and visit the Touch ID/Face ID & Passcode setting.
If it isn’t already enabled, tap Turn Passcode on and enter your 6-digit code. Once you’ve set this code, you can set up any biometric settings like Touch ID or Face ID. Which one you use will depend on whether your phone has a home button. Tap Add a Fingerprint or Set up Face ID and follow the on-screen prompts.
- Lock out accessory hackers and hijackers
As secure as iPhones and iPads are, a dangerous new way hackers are cracking these devices is via compromised USB connections. A modified device plugged into an iOS system can easily access personal data if it isn’t properly secured.
Thankfully, Apple thought ahead and included an option to restrict USB access in iOS. To find it, visit the Touch ID/Face ID & Passcode menu in the Settings app and scroll down. You’ll see an option labeled “USB Accessories.” Make sure it’s toggled off, as in the image above.
By doing this, your phone will restrict data access to your device if it’s left locked and dormant for an hour or more. This means any USB accessories will only be good for charging and will not be able to access any data.
TECH ACCESSORIES: Need a new case, a keyboard or an easier way to charge on the go? Tap or click for some of the best Apple accessories to outfit your tech.
- Prevent others from using your home screen to bypass your lock
Apple tends to walk a fine line between security and convenience, and the home screen on iOS is a perfect example. As secure as your lock and biometrics may be, an iPhone or iPad will allow certain features like replying to texts and returning calls right from alerts that appear when your device is locked.
Though this can be useful when you’re on the go and unable to fully log into your phone, it can have dangerous side effects for your security. A nosy friend could easily pick up your phone and start replying for you if they see an alert.
To limit lock screen access on iOS, we’re going to revisit the Touch ID/Face ID & Passcode menu. Scroll down until you find a section labeled Allow Access When Locked. Here, you can toggle specific settings like Siri and message replies, and restrict access without a passcode.
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- Automate updates to stay ahead of the curve
Hackers and cybercriminals are constantly refining their tactics, which means the security on your device can become obsolete in a matter of weeks. Exploits and security flaws pop up all the time, which is why companies like Apple release patches and updates to refine their products and security.
If you’d rather not be pressured to constantly download new updates, you can instruct your phone to download and install them automatically. This will keep your device on the cutting edge of Apple’s security releases.
UPDATE WINDOWS: Microsoft is warning users to update now, following a stark warning from the NSA. Tap or click here to find out what’s putting millions of systems at risk.
To activate auto updates, open Settings, followed by General. Then, select Software Update. In this menu, you may see an update available to download. Do so when you have the chance, but for now, tap Automatic Updates and toggle the setting on.
This will download and install updates overnight when your phone is connected to power and Wi-Fi. Don’t forget that if you aren’t charging your phone overnight (which you should do anyway) the updates won’t install.
Keep in mind not every Apple update is perfect. Some have had significant issues that broke major features on devices. Tap or click here to see what a recent update from Apple broke. But Apple is pretty good about releasing new updates to fix previous ones, if need be, and updates are still worth it for the security patches.
- Adjust location tracking
Apple is a bit better than other companies about privacy, but it will still track your location if you visit the same places frequently.
Thankfully, you can disable this as well. To turn off Apple’s frequently visited location tracking, visit Settings, followed by Privacy. Then, select Location followed by System Services and choose Significant Locations. Turn this feature off to stop your device from keeping track of locations it thinks are important.
- Stop Apple from recording your Siri requests
Companies like Amazon have come under fire for recording and transcribing interactions with users. Apple did the same exact thing. Tap or click here to see how Apple transcribes Siri voice data.
The company has since claimed to have stopped the practice unconditionally, but it still records if given permission. This helps Apple improve its voice recognition software, but if you aren’t comfortable playing guinea pig, you can turn this option off.
To access audio review settings, open the Settings app and select Privacy. Then, scroll down and open Analytics & Improvements. Here, look for the section labeled Improve Siri & Dictation and toggle it off. This will stop Apple from storing and transcribing your Siri and Dictation interactions to improve its systems.
With these settings adjustments, you should have a much more private and secure experience on your device. Beyond this, be cautious with what you share on social media and beyond to keep your device as personal as possible. Otherwise, these settings won’t go far enough to protect you.
BONUS TIP FOR EXTRA KNOW-HOW: 3 settings you must change on your video doorbell
Unlike traditional doorbells that require you to squint through a dime-sized peephole, glance out a window or open the door without knowing who is on the other side, Ring provides you a clear view of who’s visiting.
In addition to being a convenient method of answering your door, the Ring video doorbell provides a layer of security for you and your home with its live view and recordings. Setup is simple and straightforward, too. But don’t miss these essential steps.
Tap or click for 3 settings you should adjust right away.
What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.
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Learn about all the latest technology on The Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.
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