iPhone Security: Staying Safe on Your Phone

With tech encroaching on our lives more and more, our phones have become part of us. Be honest, you use your phone everywhere, even when you shouldn’t - at work, while driving, on dates, in the bathroom…

Knowing that and how many ways cybercriminals can hack your phone and steal your data, it’s a miracle we use our phones at all. What if someone hacks your camera while you’re in a compromising position? The solution is to opt for a phone that takes security seriously. Apple is most people’s go-to since it has a reputation for enhanced security

Their devices are famously secure and difficult to penetrate. But difficult does not mean impossible, and it seems like every day, we hear about more and more attacks on people’s phones, including iPhones. Moreover, according to one study, iPhones can be infected with malware, even when they're switched off.

Luckily, there are things you can do to keep your iPhone safe. It doesn’t require a lot of effort, just some general awareness and knowledge of the inherent vulnerabilities you’re exposing yourself to every day.

What are the Security Threats on Your Phone?

With tech becoming more accessible and common, security challenges are also growing in number, scope, and sophistication. Twenty years ago, the biggest security threat when owning a mobile phone was the risk of it being physically stolen. Nowadays, there are almost unlimited ways your phone can be stolen, blocked, taken over, or used to harm you somehow. Many security threats stem from using our phones online, but it’s far from the only risk.

The information hackers want the most


Phishing is one of the most - if not THE most widespread type of cybercrime. It’s usually done via a dangerous link that they get people to click on - and voila - the scam is in motion. The most common way to put them in front of people? They send them straight to your inbox. They will usually masquerade as a legitimate institution or company, asking you to take action - Amazon, PayPal, your bank - and helpfully and conveniently offer a link you can click to sign into your account and take care of whatever issue is supposedly outstanding. Once that happens, they have everything they need to steal your info. 

Malicious Websites

There is no such thing as a totally “safe” internet, but even so, some websites are more secure. In contrast, others are malicious and exclusively created to steal information or harm you. The problem is that you can’t always identify them. Attackers have started getting clever about mirroring other websites and creating almost identical copies with the intent to steal information from users. 

Exploiting Vulnerable Points in OS or Device

Even with a company that is as committed to security and privacy as Apple, there are times when the devices can be vulnerable to attacks. As recent as the summer of 2022, Apple issued a warning that a security flaw could have enabled attackers to take over devices. This is bound to happen from time to time, so each device owner must stay on top of their own security and keep an eye out. 


An insidious, potentially terrifying, and malicious threat, ransomware, is gaining access to and encrypting files on your device, thus successfully locking them to your access. The attackers then hold your files for ransom until you pay them to give you back access. That alone is upsetting enough, but the situation is made even worse by the growing amount of files of a delicate nature that can be found on our phones. If you have sensitive text messages, photos, or other files on your device and someone else gains access and threatens to expose them, that’s an awful situation with no good exit. No one wants to give in to the blackmailers, but we also don’t want our most private information disseminated. 

Jailbreaking & Rooting

It is not uncommon for attackers to target iPhones and exploit vulnerabilities in order to gain access. That permits them to steal data. Users who take it upon themselves to jailbreak their own devices to delete certain apps or gain more freedom in installing apps that don’t come from the app store and are, hence, untrustworthy are even more vulnerable to this type of attack since they’ve done the hard work of breaking down security barriers themselves. 


Many people get caught up in online security and app security but fail to take physical security seriously. Especially with an expensive device like an iPhone, there are a lot of dedicated thieves who target them exclusively. They look for device owners who offer good opportunities and make perfect victims. 

iPhone owners who are young, careless, distracted, and forgetful are often the most targeted: people who leave their phones out of sight, keep their phones within reach of others, and don’t secure them enough. 

How Can You Stay Safe?

Just because attackers are after your information doesn’t mean they can get it. There are many things you can do and habits you can create to prevent cybercrime against you or getting your iPhone stolen. You just need to educate yourself about the existing threats. 

Physical Safety

Too many people are willy-nilly with their possessions, especially important - and expensive! - ones like their phones. Staying safe starts with taking good care of your phone and ensuring that you’re not creating opportunities for people to steal your device - or your information. 

Don’t Leave Your Phone Out of Sight

First things first - yes, it may be obvious, but too many people overlook this simple habit - never leave your phone unattended or out of sight. So many people feel inexplicably comfortable leaving their phones on the table at a coffee shop and going to the bathroom. Or leave it on their desk and leave. That’s a perfect opportunity for someone to steal your phone. 

But even if no one steals it, they have enough time to pick it up to look at it, possibly access it, and glean all sorts of personal information. Have you ever thought about what someone might find out about you just by glancing at your most recent texts? What about your calls or emails? It only takes one moment for someone to do some damage if that’s what they want. 

Always Keep Your Phone on Your Person

Putting your phone in your bag or backpack or leaving it in your car isn’t safe enough. The best thing to do to keep your phone and yourself safe is always to keep it on your person. It doesn’t matter if you’re only going to the bathroom or ordering another cocktail. No one can compromise your phone’s safety if you don't create an opportunity.

The best thing is to hold it in your hand or keep it in your front pocket. The back pocket should be avoided, which is yet another inexplicable choice many people make. It’s easy to reach and slide a phone out of a back pocket without the owner noticing. If you must keep it in your bag, ensure it’s properly closed and close to your person. 

Use a Lanyard or Phone Case With a Chain

Your choice of phone case can impact your phone’s safety. A thin, slippery phone case makes it less secure in your hand, which means you’re going to drop it more often and that it’s easier to grab out of your hand when you’re not paying attention. It only takes a second. 

That’s why you should opt for a sturdier phone case, preferably one with a lanyard or a cross-body chain. That way, you can always carry it on your person hands-free and not worry about others stealing or accessing your device. 

Enable Find My iPhone

One feature that recommends Apple as a phone manufacturer is Find My Phone - precisely what it says on the tin. If you ever misplace your phone, you can always go to iCloud and locate your device. That's not just extremely useful in a case where your phone might be stolen, but it also comes in handy if you’re the forgetful sort who misplaces your phone around the house all the time. If calling it doesn’t work, Find My Phone is your next stop. 

Accessing Your Phone

Prevention is half the battle; in this case, that means stopping people from accessing your phone. Whether it’s thieves, someone who wants your information, or just a nosy co-worker who wants to get in your business, make sure they are locked out with no recourse. 

Lock Screen + Biometric Security

One of the most critical parts of your security strategy is your password. Most people make the mistake of opting for a simple lock screen combination. If you’ve ever been the person whose combination is 1234 - or worse, if you are still that person - change it immediately. 

With a combination that is obvious, there is no reason to have a lock screen combination because it doesn’t keep anyone out. A more complex password is in order. Yes, it’s a pain to access your phone every time, but it’s incredibly effective at keeping other people locked out, as they should be. And bonus - the police cannot legally force you to hand over your password should you find yourself in a situation where your phone becomes an object of interest. 

If you want to step it up and secure your phone to the max, biometric security is at your service. Face ID will ensure that no one accesses this phone but you. Even if your phone is stolen, they won’t be able to access it, rendering it useless. And speaking of passcodes, you can even enable the Erase Data option. What this does is it deletes all your data should anyone fail the passcode ten times. You: 1, Thieves: 0. 

Password Protect Important Apps

And now that you’ve gotten used to relying on passwords why not go that extra mile and implement them for apps you want to keep private? Your text apps, your social media, your email, your banking app - these all contain personal information that shouldn’t be seen by anyone else but you. That’s why it’s wise to set passwords for all your essential apps. It adds a few seconds to access them, but you have the peace of mind that no one else will be in your business. 

Enable Two-Factor Authentication

Multiple authentication steps are irritating. They take a long time, and it’s annoying to keep typing in passwords and codes. However, it’s an effective security measure because it doesn’t rely on one device or method. By requiring both a password and a code sent on your phone, you ensure that someone hacking your account can’t get in unless they have your device and know your password. The more steps you put in between a hacker and your account, the less likely they are to be able to get in.

Remove Any Important Apps From Your Lock Screen

We value quick, easy access, but we should value security more. Having apps on your lock screen is very convenient, but what is convenient for you is also convenient for anyone trying to gain access to your phone. Without realizing it, you could give strangers a view into your life and private matters. 

You should check your Allow Access When Locked settings and disable any critical apps and features. Return Missed Calls, Reply with Message, and Notification Center can all be vulnerable spots should someone gain physical access to your device. 

Don’t let Notifications Hang Out on Your Screen

We all know people with 1534 text notifications, 8987 emails, and hundreds of Instagram notifications - and they’re all right on their screen. That’s a no-no because people can gain knowledge about you and your business if they only glance at your screen, unbeknownst to you. And really, you don’t need your notifications on screen. Look at or ignore them, but swipe them away from your screen to avoid inadvertently broadcasting personal information to the world. 

Online Safety

What people run into safety issues with most often is when they go online. Things have come a long way since the 90s, and the internet is a less safe place now. Sure, you may not encounter aggressive pop-ups that may or may not be pornography, but you’re assaulted by something much more insidious - malware, spyware, or ransomware.

Interest in hacking by brand

Don’t Use Unsecured Wi-Fi 

This is, perhaps, the golden rule of internet use in the modern age, and while you’ve probably heard this 100 times, here comes 101: never use a public, unsecured Wi-Fi connection if you’re going to be engaging in any activities where you are sending private information. For example, if you’re just going to browse Reddit, a random Wi-Fi connection is fine. If you’re going to connect to your internet banking account, don’t do it over public Wi-Fi. 

Ideally, you’d be able to use your own data, but if you’ve run out, then asking an employee for the password to the private Wi-Fi of the establishment is preferable. That way, you know for sure no one is stealing your passwords. 

Don’t Access Untrustworthy Websites

Before you resort to the call for “duh!”, listen to this - 53% of websites do not have adequate security, which means that there’s a real possibility you are exposing your device and yourself to harm. Before you venture on a website, and especially before you input any of your personal information or, god forbid, make a purchase, take inventory of some of the markers of a safe, trustworthy website. 

Does the website have an SSL certificate? A secure URL starts with “HTTPS,” not just “HTTP.” The “s” actually stands for “secure.” When the website has an SSL certificate, that ensures that all your data is encrypted, so if you put in your credit card number, no one will be able to intercept it.

Use a VPN

It’s surprising that more people don’t use a VPN on their phones, it’s a very effective tool for retaining your privacy and security. You may not think you need it, but it does more than just enable you to mask your location and IP. It can also hide your online activity and protect you from potential attackers. 

Make Your Internet Search Engine More Private

Internet search privacy - or lack thereof - has been a huge topic of late, and with good reason. Many of these companies are gleefully using our personal information and search history and patterns to sell to us, thus putting us at risk. That’s why it’s worth taking some time to secure your browser and search engine

Safari is already good about offering you privacy options, but if you want to really lock things down and stay as anonymous as possible, DuckDuckGo is the way to go. Otherwise, the option mentioned above of using a VPN is always strongly recommended. 

Virus & Malware Safety

In addition to general online safety, you also want to look for malware and viruses. Attackers have become very insidious with how they weaponize viruses, so you must carefully consider every move you make. Think before you click, and use every protection measure available to you.

Apps that can hide iPhone malware

Use an Antivirus

It’s rare that you still encounter internet users without antivirus software. If your device - especially your phone - has online access, then the antivirus will prevent a world of hurt. Nowadays, there are free antivirus software apps. Still, if you want the best service and quality available, antivirus companies have paid subscriptions that won’t cost you more than a cup of coffee a month but which will keep your phone safe from attackers. 

Do Regular Scans on Your Phone

Any antivirus software worth its salt will do automatic scans to ensure that everything is in tip-top shape, but it doesn’t hurt to also do manual scans at regular intervals. Especially if you spend a lot of time online on your phone, that’s a lot of opportunity to strike, so why wait to discover if something is amiss? Incorporate a scan into your routine; it only takes a few seconds and gives you peace of mind. 

Don’t Click Suspicious Links

Sketchy links are one of the primary ways people fall victim to phishing. Usually, the sender pretends to be from a legitimate website. Of course, once you click on the link, you’re taken to a mirror website that looks exactly like the real thing. You get tricked, input your details, including passwords or credit card info, and voila - they’ve gotten everything they want out of you. 

That’s why it’s essential to check all the links thoroughly - and never click through. Take the time to go to the website and type in the address to check if anything is amiss. 99% of the time, you’ll find that the email was a phishing attempt. 

General iPhone Safety

Even if you’re taking all the precautions mentioned above, there is still more you can do to ensure that your iPhone is as safe as possible from all threats. Your settings and general phone updates are areas where you can make a huge difference in security. 

Audit App Permissions

Have you taken the time to review your app permissions lately? You may inadvertently be allowing your apps to access the information you don’t want to give out and that they don’t need. Apps often request permission to access your text messages, phone log, location, or photos, when they have no reason to. Especially if you’re not actively using the app, then there is no reason to continue to give permission to your private information. Regularly audit your app permissions to ensure you’re only giving access to what is strictly necessary. 

Enable Automatic Updates

Software updates are the things you ignore until they drive you utterly insane with their annoying pop-ups. But did you know that this habit can make your phone vulnerable from a security standpoint? 

Software updates are essential when it comes to taking care of or even preventing vulnerabilities. They’re there for a reason, not just to constantly annoy you. When a weak point is discovered, an update can be immediately made available to patch up the vulnerability. They can give you the solution but can’t force you to use it; unless you stay on top of your updates, you will remain vulnerable to attacks. 

Limit Siri Settings

Siri is a fun feature to have and use. Still, when you think about it from a security standpoint, it can open you up to some vulnerabilities and security threats. Unless you heavily rely on Siri for everyday things, there is no reason to have her listen to you and track your every move. It’s much better to limit her permissions for your peace of mind. 

Turn off iCloud Backup for Apps That Don’t Require it

In theory, backing everything up sounds nice and convenient, but in reality, you don’t need to have copies of a lot of this information. Especially if it’s sensitive data you end up deleting from your phone, finding that it’s been saved in iCloud for posterity might be a very unwelcome surprise later down the line. More copies of something sensitive means more opportunities for someone to access it and potentially harm you. 

Make Sure Messages Auto-Delete

Most of us have text messages that contain very personal information that we wouldn’t want anyone else to see. Whether we’re talking about medical info, addresses, or intimate exchanges, one thing is sure - you don’t want those hanging around your phone. 

One never knows when someone might hack your phone, and then all your private details are in danger of being seen, held for ransom, or worse - disseminated. Avoid that tragic fate by setting your messages to auto-delete after a predetermined time. That way, you ensure that messages you forgot existed don’t come to haunt you later. 


iPhones are famously safe, but while it’s significantly harder to compromise them than Androids, it doesn’t mean they are entirely safe from harm. There are plenty of threats waiting for your iPhone around the corner and in any unsecured app and website. 

Attackers target iPhone users in every possible way when they discover a vulnerability - from physical attacks like stealing your device to hacking your phone or just waiting to creep on your unlock code. But that doesn’t mean they have to gain access to your phone just because they try. You can keep your phone - and your sensitive data - safe by taking some simple preventative measures and being aware of the risks and your general surroundings. Your phone will stay safe if you’re prepared and informed.