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Six essential Apple iPhone security tips

Six essential Apple iPhone security tips

A secure iPhone is a happy iPhone. That's why we've collected these six fast and simple security tips to help better protect your Apple smartphone--and all the personal information you access using the device.

If you're an Apple iPhone user and security's not on your mind, you're at risk; at risk of having a Web mail account hacked; at risk of having your online identity stolen; and at risk of losing valuable personal information, such as wireless service account data, that could result in financial losses, among other disasters.

When it comes to mobile devices, security tops the list of IT security managers' concerns. And rightly so: According to a Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) survey of 2,024 information security professionals earlier this year, more than half of respondents say risks related to mobile devices and remote workers are up significantly compared to 2007.

Even if you use your Apple iPhone strictly for play, it pays to ensure that you're checking your e-mail, surfing the Web via Wi-Fi and accessing various content and services in the safest possible ways. You can follow these six tips in a matter of minutes, and potentially save yourself weeks of damage control.

iPhone Security Tip 1: Enable Auto-Lock

One of the most basic iPhone security functions is the Auto-Lock feature, which locks the device's touch screen after not being used for a preset time period. Users can choose to set their iPhones to lock after not being used for one, two, three, four or five minutes. Auto-Lock can also be disabled altogether.

Auto-Lock is turned on by default, but you can change the settings by first clicking the main iPhone Settings icon, tapping the General tab and then hitting Auto-Lock. Then select the desired time period by tapping the on-screen value. Finally, exit the Auto-Lock and Settings screens by tapping the box in the display's top left corner.

Though Auto-Lock is not exactly a security function on its own, when combined with the Passcode safeguard described below, it's an essential iPhone security feature.

iPhone Security Tip 2: Enable Passcode Lock

The iPhone Auto-Lock disables the device's screen after a preset time period of non-use, but the Passcode Lock feature takes that a step further. Whenever the device's display locks, whether due to Auto-Lock or because you've hit the iPhone Sleep button--found on the top right of the device--Passcode Lock requires a four-digit code to be entered before the device can be employed again.

To turn on Passcode Lock, simply click the main iPhone Settings icon again, hit General and then tap Passcode Lock. On the Passcode Lock menu screen, enable the function by tapping Turn Passcode On. You'll then be prompted to enter in a new passcode. Good passwords are completely random and should not be chosen based on birthdays or other dates or numbers that could be uncovered by would-be hackers.

You can also specify when a passcode is required. To do so, tap Require Passcode and then choose whether or not you want to be prompted for a code immediately upon using the device, after one minute, five minutes, 15 minutes, one hour or four hours. Setting the passcode prompt to Immediately is the most secure, as users won't be able to access the iPhone at all without entering the appropriate passcode.

The Passcode Lock screen also has options to Show SMS Preview and Erase Data. When enabled, the SMS preview function allows the first sentence of new text messages to appear on-screen even when a passcode has not been entered. If you'd like the highest level of iPhone security--or just some more privacy--you probably want to disable Show SMS Preview.

The Erase Data function lets you completely wipe your iPhone after 10 failed passcode attempts. After six failed attempts, the iPhone locks out users for a minute before another passcode can be entered. And the device increases the lock-out time following each additional failed attempt--one minute, five minutes, 15 minutes, etc.--so an attempted passcode bypass could take miscreants hours.

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