Tips on Securing Your iPhone

Illustration
Nowadays, gadgets are like an inseparable part of you. It helps you with your everyday life, getting more job done on the go. At the same time, gadgets are also used as a statement of prestige. In some countries, people tend to buy the highest-end, most advanced and expensive gadgets, even though they use them to merely browse the Internet, take calls, and send messages.

This shift of luxury and lifestyle also tempts criminals to make the shift from stealing jewelries to gadgets. Gadgets are easier to sell in the Black Market, even without the warranty card, packaging box, or other compliments because there are strong demands for these little pieces of tech. One gadget that has the highest demands among others is iPhone. Whether you like it or not, whether it is as functional as the gadget you're using to read this post or not, iPhones are dead expensive, and many people want one.

Fortunately, in response to this, Apple has a kill-switch feature that prevents the phone from being reactivated without your Apple ID password. Although it's not perfect, it's still nice to have at least one deterrent than none, right? At least it'll make thieves think twice before trying to steal your precious fruit-branded smartphone.

Oh, one more thing. This feature can only be used on iOS 7 and up. Thus, the oldest iPhone that can have this feature enabled is iPhone4. Sorry 3GS, but your time is up.

So, how can you activate this little feature? Head on past the break to find out.


Sign In with Your Apple ID

Illustration on iPhone 5 / 5C
When you first turn on your iPhone, you're prompted to sign in with your Apple ID. I strongly recommend you to either sign up for a free ID or sign in with your existing account. Besides allowing you access to Apple services such as iCloud, iTunes, and App Store, you'll also have access to the "Find My iPhone", which is the star service of this post.

Although it's highly doubtful that you haven't signed into your Apple ID yet (how could you download apps without even signing in?), it never hurts to do a double check. To check whether you've signed in or not, you can access your Apple ID via Settings -> iCloud. If you haven't signed in yet, you should be shown two forms to fill like the picture below.

Illustration courtesy of AppleToolbox.com

Turning on "Find My iPhone"

Once you're done signing in, it's time to make sure you have the "Find My iPhone" turned on. You can do this by swiping from Settings -> iCloud -> Toggle Find My iPhone. Illustration can be found  on the picture below.

Green toggle means it's on.

Create a Passcode

While this isn't mandatory, adding an additional layer of security wouldn't hurt. You can easily set a 4-digit passcode via Settings -> Passcode. All you have to do is type a combination of 4 numbers and type it again... and you're set.

Set your 4-digit passcode here

Accessing Your Lost Phone

Now, the worst scenario. Say, you lost your phone or someone stole it, God forbid. As soon as you realize that you've lost your phone, you have two options that you should do ASAP. The first one is to find a desktop computer and access iCloud.com. Sign into the website and click the "Find My iPhone" icon. This particular page will show all your Apple devices which you have signed into. Find your lost phone from the list of devices, and if you have Location Access enabled, it will automatically scan where your phone is. It's not that accurate, but at least you have an approximate location of your phone.

The webpage will feature the location of your device. For privacy reasons, I can't put up the screenshot. I apologize for this.

Aside from locating your phone, the service also allows you to do three things. First, you may play a loud sound if you're confident it's nearby and hopefully it's not on silent. Secondly, you can enable Lost Mode, which will lock the phone and put up a message. If you haven't set up a passcode, you will be prompted to do it. Otherwise, the default passcode will be used to lock the phone. Additionally, should the thief attempt to reset your iPhone, he / she will need your Apple ID password to reactivate it.

That sucks, right?
Thirdly, when you finally give up but don't want the thief to access your data, you can choose to delete your iPhone. This will practically delete all data on your phone. I haven't done this yet, so I don't know what they'll be erasing. However, it's safe to assume that the phone will be reset to its factory settings, meaning that your account will be signed out and it's no longer in your reach. Only do this as a last resort, okay?

Things to Keep in Mind

Apple might have stepped up their game in phone security. However, no matter how strong a wall is, it can always be breached. For example, in Indonesia, I've found people who have some specific software that could bypass this security, dubbed "iCloud Lock". One unlock will cost around U$150. Whether it's right or wrong, it's a sign for us that we shouldn't rely too much on this security feature. It helps, but criminal minds will always find a way to get past it. Oh, and one more thing. Even though the phone is locked, the phone can still be used for using apps and other things via Wi-Fi. In other words, the said devices would have all its Cellular function stripped off. At least, that's the information I've received from a friend. So, it's not entirely true about the phone not being able to be used at all.

Secondly, this feature won't work if the thief has access to your passcode. Once the thief gets past the passcode lock, he / she can turn off the Find My iPhone and Location Access, meaning that you won't be able to track the phone or even lock the phone at all. So make sure your passcode remains a secret.

Finally, this section reminds you that the best security you have against criminals and thefts is your own vigilance. Don't leave your phone on the table while you're distracted, make sure you always check that your phone is in your pocket, etc. iPhones are expensive piece of technology, so you should treat it like gold, making sure that you keep a close eye on it. Understood?

Alternatives on Other OSes

Even though this post covers only iPhones and iDevices running iOS7 or up, there are actually alternatives from other OSes. As much as I know, the first OS to implement this kind of security is BlackBerry with their BlackBerry Protect. Starting from BBOS6, you can wirelessly track, play sounds, and even erase your BlackBerry by accessing BlackBerry Protect website. Unfortunately, this one doesn't have a mobile client like Find My iPhone so you have to find a desktop computer to access it.

From Android, Google has recently launched Android Device Manager. Similar to iCloud, this web service allows you to ring, lock, and even erase your phone. It works similarly to Find My iPhone, and it even has its own mobile app on Android for convenience.

Finally, Windows Phone. It also has a service called "Find My Phone" that you can access from windowsphone.com. It works similarly like other mobile OSes' offering, but I don't think it has a mobile app, since I couldn't find it in Windows Store.

So, I guess that's all for now. Have you ever used any if those features? If you haven't, you should try them out. You know, for the sake of security...

Anyway, thanks for reading and I hope this article is useful for you my dear readers. If you have any suggestions or critics, sound them off in the comments section below. Finally, be vigilant. I'm looking forward to your visit again, and have a nice day, Folks!

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