With the steep rise of cyber crime during the pandemic, digital security is now a priority in the minds of most Americans.
In fact, 87% think that cyberattacks are a graver threat to their future than climate change or COVID-19, according to a recent study by identity theft protection company Aura.
In this climate, Apple devices prove particularly attractive. After all, general wisdom says that they are immune to cybersecurity threats. Unfortunately, that is not true.
In fact, cyber criminals are now increasingly targeting iPhones and MacBooks. Throughout 2021, Apple has had to release a series of emergency fixes and updates to patch up potentially fatal vulnerabilities.
However, to benefit from these fixes, and to increase the security on your Apple devices, there are several settings you need to adjust. Here’s how.
First and foremost, it’s crucial to enable automatic updates on your iPhone, MacBook, and other Apple devices.
It can be tempting to delay updates – especially when you’re in the middle of an important work project (or a Netflix movie marathon).
However, most hackers do not bother to look for new vulnerabilities, but instead exploit ones that are already widely known. Patches exist, but there are always users who have not installed the necessary updates yet.
This year alone, Apple released a fix in March for a vulnerability that researchers at Google’s Project Zero had discovered. Two months later, it had to issue an emergency fix for a vulnerability in Safari. And in September, another emergency patch followed for zero-click exploits.
However, you can only benefit from these patches and increased security if you install the required updates. Setting them to run automatically is the easiest way to stay safe.
Next, it’s crucial to set a strong passcode for all your devices. If they fall into the wrong hands, your passcode is your first and best line of defense.
Ideally, a safe passcode for your iPhone should be eight digits or longer. The longer it is, the more secure. For instance, a computer algorithm would take about seven minutes to guess a four-digit passcode. Eight digits, on the other hand, would take it 46 days.
In fact, a complex passcode is actually more secure than Face ID or Touch ID. The latter especially is vulnerable to high-tech fingerprint copies.
In addition, you should activate two-factor authentication (2FA) where possible, especially for your Apple ID. This means that even if someone cracks your password, they’d still need access to a separate physical device to actually access your account.
As a third step, enable the “find my device” option on all your Apple devices. If one of them is misplaced, lost, or stolen, you can pinpoint it with the others.
What’s more, it enables you to wipe your drive and internal memory remotely. That means that even if you can’t recover your device, no sensitive data will end up in the hands of cyber criminals.
Another crucial security setting is what gets displayed on the lock screen of your iPhone or iPad.
If you’re not careful, a lot of personal data – from messages to wallet items – can get displayed here for anyone to see.
To prevent this, it’s worth spending some time in the Allow Access When Locked tab of the Touch ID and Passcode menu. While you’re here, you could also enable Erase Data. As its name suggests, this feature wipes all your personal data off your device after a certain number of failed passcode attempts.
On your MacBook, make sure to adjust the time it takes for your lock screen to appear if you are inactive. The shorter this is, the less likely that someone can gain access to your data if you leave your computer unattended even for just a moment.
Finally, you need to check that encryption is enabled on all of your devices. On your MacBook, you can do this by verifying that FileVault is active in the Security and Privacy tab of your system preferences. In the same spot, you can also ensure that your Firewall is activated.
On your iPhone, make sure that Data protection is enabled is checked in the Touch ID and Passcode menu.
Encryption will make sure that none of your sensitive data is accessible to cyber criminals, even if they do manage to get a hold of your devices.
Digital security in 2021 requires constant vigilance – that goes for Apple users as much as for anyone else.
By taking the time to verify and adjust the settings above, you can seriously boost your device security – and make the lives of hackers harder.