In the wake of recent news about consolidated.db, a hidden file where iOS 4 notes the past whereabouts of iPhone and 3G iPad users (and much of that news is at least a little hysterical, according to some bloggers, though Al Franken makes some good points in his letter to Steve Jobs), we thought the time was ripe to discuss a few ways to improve your data’s security when using iOS devices.
Four Tips for Securing Your iOS Data
Here are four ways to protect sensitive data stored on your iOS devices:
- Encrypt your backups. To keep the data in consolidated.db and other files away from prying eyes, connect your device to your computer and check the Encrypt (iPad, iPhone) backup box in iTunes’ Summary screen for your device.
- Set your iPad or iPhone to require a four-digit password when waking from sleep or starting up at Settings>General>Passcode Lock. For extra security, choose Immediately or a short interval for the Require Passcode field and deselect the Simple Passcode option, which allows you to set an alphanumeric passcode instead of one using only numbers. Also consider toggling Erase Data to delete all data on your iOS device after 10 failed passcode entry attempts.
- Use MobileMe’s Find My iPad feature. Just create a free MobileMe account (you don’t need to subscribe to MobileMe to use this feature – and chances are MobileMe’s going free, anyway), and follow the instructions. Once you’re set up, your iOS device’s location will appear on a map so you can recover it if it’s misplaced or stolen. In either case, you can send a message to the screen instructing anyone who finds your device to keep it safe until you pick it up. If you suspect your device has been stolen, you can delete all data stored on it remotely. You may not get your iPad or iPhone back, but a thief won’t get your confidential information.
- Practice good Wi-Fi hygiene. If you’re forced to use a public hotspot, act as if everything you do is being shouted over a bullhorn. Because, for those with bad intentions, it might as well be.