Monday, October 10, 2011

How To Secure Your iPhone or iPad

You probably already know that Apple offers the free MobileMe/Find My iPhone service.

You may have even set this up, so if your phone is lost or stolen you know to just go to https://me.com/find/ to locate it.

What you may not realize is that a thief could easily thwart your defense by simply deleting the "Find My iPhone" app!

Here's what you need to do to make sure that doesn't happen.

First, Set Up Find My iPhone (this works with iPads as well)
  1. Install the Find My iPhone app from the App Store
  2. Go into the Settings app on your device, choose Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and under Accounts click Add Account . You'll use your regular Apple/iTunes ID and password to sign in, and then turn ON Find My iPhone/iPad.
  3. Test it on your device by launching the app you downloaded in step 1 and use your Apple ID/password to sign in.  Your device should locate where you are.
  4. Test it on your computer by going to https://me.com/find/ and signing in with your Apple ID/password. That website should locate your device. (also note that you can click the blue circle and you'll be able to either display a message on your device, play a sound, lock it, or wipe all the data off of it...all right from your computer!)
Good job!  That's more than the average person does to protect their device, but even the tech savvy individual doesn't always think that you need to go a step further.

But you still need to SECURE it so a thief can't just delete the app or turn off the GPS!
  1. Go into the Settings app on your device, choose General, then choose Restrictions and click Enable Restrictions.  You will have to choose a 4 digit passcode.  Make sure you don't forget it!!
  2. Now you've enabled restrictions, but you haven't actually set any yet.  We are going to set 3 of them
  3. Under Allow, turn OFF the one that says Deleting Apps. This will ensure that a thief can't delete the Find My iPhone app.
  4. Under Allow Changes, click Location and then select Don't Allow Changes. This will make sure a thief can't disable your GPS.
  5. Finally, under Allow Changes, click Accounts and select Don't Allow Changes. This will ensure a thief can't delete your Find My iPhone account (the one we set up in step 2 in the first section).
That's all you need to do!  Your i-device is now secure.  If it is stolen, a thief will not easily be able to stop you from locating it.

Keep in mind that those restrictions will prevent you from doing some things you may want to do (delete an app, for example).  In that case, just go back into settings and turn the restriction off temporarily, then turn it back on after you're done.

Note: I know that a thief could potentially just wipe your phone clean and re-sell it or use it themselves.  NOTHING can stop that, but remember that a person who snatches an iPhone they see laying around probably isn't the brightest person in the world.  Following the above steps at least gives you a fighting chance of locating it...call the cops and provide them the location so they can recover it.  This also ensures you can wipe the data if it really is stolen (as opposed to just being lost).  If you want some extra security, you should go to Settings > General > Passcode Lock  > Turn Passcode On and set it to Erase Data after 10 failed attempts.  You should also write down the IMEI number under Settings > General > About and report that to your carrier if it is stolen. They can blacklist the IMEI number which may also assist in locating it for you if the thief tries to get cellular service with it.

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