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Change these iPhone settings now to boost security
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Smartphones & gadgets

7 important iPhone security settings to change right now

Smartphones have so many neat features that it’s hard to keep up. Even when you think you’ve mastered all your phone’s secrets, an update adds some new ones.

The iPhone is Apple’s most popular product, and the Cupertino company does everything it can to keep up with the latest tech developments while adding its own. You may have had an iPhone for years and not know everything it’s capable of. Tap or click here for seven hidden iPhone features you may not know.

Beyond the fun stuff, you’ll find many security settings baked into your iPhone. It’s important to know what they do and when to use them. This goes beyond simply enabling Face ID or Touch ID. We’ll help you get started.

1. Use the built-in authenticator

Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security when signing into an account, website or service. You’ll commonly come across logins that send a code to your device for authentication.

Your iPhone can receive verification codes for sites and apps that offer 2FA without relying on text messages or additional apps. This will automatically happen if your phone is running iOS 12 and higher. When you get a texted 2FA security code, it will automatically appear in the code field.

Here’s how to set up automatic verification codes for a website or app by entering a setup key:

  • Sign in to the area of the website or app where you manage your account, then select options to enable two-factor authentication and an authenticator app.
  • Choose the option to manually use a setup key (or setup code or similar), then select and copy the setup key.
  • Go to Settings > Passwords, then select your account for the website or app.
  • Tap Set Up Verification Code, then tap Enter Setup Key.
  • Tap the Setup Key field, tap Paste, then OK.
  • Tap the Verification Code field, then tap Copy Verification Code.
  • Return to the website or app, then paste the verification code where directed.

2. Lock down apps that always know where you are

Why would an app need to know where you are? Perhaps you want your navigation app to know this to guide you to your destination. You may want your weather app to give you accurate local results.

But what about others? Does a game or music app need to know where you are? What about social media? You can quickly check which apps can access your location and restrict them as needed.

  • Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services.
  • To review or change access settings for an app or to see its explanation for requesting Location Services, tap the app. You can set when an app can track your location or turn it off completely.

RELATED: Have an iPhone, iPad or Mac? Here’s how to set up Apple’s built-in storage

3. Lock down your lock screen

You can easily access widgets, media playback controls, your camera and the Control Center from your iPhone’s lock screen. You may want to change what’s accessible from your lock screen to protect your privacy. After all, if you can see it, so can anyone else holding your phone.

Here’s how to keep things private:

  • Go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode (on an iPhone with Face ID) or Touch ID & Passcode (on an iPhone with a Home button).
  • Enter your four-digit passcode when prompted.
  • Under the Allow Access When Locked section, review the options and choose which can be seen on the lock screen. Choices include Notification Center, Control Center and more. Turn Notification Center off if you want to keep notifications private.

4. Check your passwords

Your iPhone will automatically detect if any of your passwords have been compromised. This is common if a site you have an account with is breached. You can also see which passwords you are using for multiple accounts.

To check up on your passwords:

  • Go to Settings > Passwords.
  • You’ll see a button labeled Security Recommendations if you have compromised passwords. Tap it, and you can change your passwords from there.
  • You’ll also see weak and reused passwords under Security Recommendations. Change them as needed.

RELATED: Update your iPhone and iPad now to patch a major security flaw

5. Find your iPhone

Apple’s Find My iPhone feature can help you find your lost phone. With iOS 15, you can get alerted if you leave your iPhone, iPad or Mac behind.

With iOS 13, Apple updated the Find My Network to help you locate your device even if it has no signal or is turned off. You must connect your phone to your Apple ID to use the Find My network. Here’s how:

  • Open Settings > [your name] > Find My. If you’re asked to sign in, enter your Apple ID.
  • Tap Find My iPhone, then slide the toggle next to Find My iPhone to the right to enable it. (NOTE: This should be enabled by default.)
  • You can also turn on or off either of the following:
    • Find My network: If your device is offline (not connected to Wi-Fi or cellular), Find My can locate it using the Find My network. Turning on the Find My network on a supported iPhone with iOS 15 or later allows you to locate the device for up to 24 hours after it’s turned off.
    • Send Last Location: If your device’s battery charge level becomes critically low, its location is sent to Apple automatically.

6. Mail privacy

Mail Privacy Protection helps protect your privacy by hiding your IP address from senders so they won’t be able to use it to track your online activity or location. This feature also prevents senders from seeing if you’ve opened the email they sent you.

To enable Mail Privacy Protection:

  • Go to Settings > Mail > Privacy Protection.
  • Slide the toggle next to Protect Mail Activity to the right to enable it.

Hide My Email is another privacy feature that lets you generate unique, random email addresses that forward to your email account. This is great for completing online forms, signing up for services or sharing an email address with a stranger.

Note: The Hide My Email feature is only available to those who subscribe to iCloud+:

  • In the Mail app, tap the compose button.
  • Add a recipient and subject for your email. Note: You can only send a message using Hide My Email to one recipient at a time.
  • Tap the From field twice, then tap Hide My Email. A new, unique email address appears in the From field.

7. Keep your Apple ID secure

Your Apple ID is used to access Apple services and contains the email address and password you use to sign in and the contact, payment and security details you use across Apple services.

Never share your Apple ID with others, even those you trust. You can add Account Recovery Contacts to help reset your Apple ID password and get back into your account if you get locked out.

  • Go to Settings > [your name] > Password & Security > Account Recovery.
  • Tap Add Recovery Contact, then follow the onscreen instructions.

You can add a Legacy Contact, who will be able to access your account in the event of your death (iOS 15.2 or later):

  • Go to Settings > [your name] > Password & Security > Legacy Contact.
  • Tap Add Legacy Contact, then follow the onscreen instructions.

Bonus: Review the App Privacy Report

The App Privacy Report was introduced with iOS 15.2. It shows you how apps use the permissions you have granted. You can also see which third-party domains may have been contacted.

To enable the App Privacy Report:

  • Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > App Privacy Report > Turn On App Privacy Report.
  • Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > App Privacy Report to access your report after giving it some time to fill out. More information will show up as you use apps. Tap or click here for more details on this helpful feature.

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