MacMost Now 776: Securing Your iPhone

If your iPhone is stolen much of your personal data, including access to your email and online accounts, can be stolen as well. Protect yourself by setting up your iPhone correctly in advance. Turn on passcode protection and also the Find My iPhone feature. With Find My iPhone you can erase or track your iPhone.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 776: Securing Your iPhone.

Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode let's talk about important things you should do in advance to protect yourself in case your iPhone gets stolen.

Now, somebody steals your iPhone you may think that the biggest problem may be that you have to spend a bunch of money to get it replaced. But that actually may not be the biggest issue. Because if somebody gets your iPhone they can get into your email and into accounts you have set up on your iPhone and steal from you even more than just the iPhone.

For instance if you have accounts at online shopping sites or banks or other things. All they need to do is to simply send out a "I lost my password" message to those accounts and then look on your iPhone for the little password reminder to come in in your email. So if they have access to your email it means they have access to a lot of your accounts.

If you are already signed in to certain services, like say you are signed into Facebook already, they can hijack that account as well. So there is a lot that people can get away with if they get ahold of your iPhone.

That is if you haven't locked it.

So here is what I mean by locking. When you go to my iPhone and you slide to unlock you get hit with this Enter Passcode. You have to enter a passcode. As a demo here I have used the absolute worst passcode you can possibly use, 1,2,3,4 because that is a default for a lot of things. That is the first thing that everyone tries. So don't use that one. But you can see how in order to get into my iPhone I need to enter that passcode. So if somebody stole it, they wouldn't be able to access my email and other accounts on it because they wouldn't know that passcode. They would be faced with that screen and they simply would not be able to do anything.

So here is how you set that up. Go into Settings and in Settings under General you go down to Passcode Lock and you turn that on. It is going to ask you for your current passcode, because I have one set up already, and here I can turn it on, turn it off, and change the passcode. You can also set when to require the passcode. Immediately is probably what you should have it set on so as soon as you set it to sleep it will no longer work unless you enter that passcode in. You can switch from simple passcode to a complex one and a complex one actually gives you the full keyboard here. So it depends on how often you use your phone and how secure you want to be. A regular passcode is pretty good. A more complex one is better.

Also you can determine exactly what is accessed when it is locked. For instance, I have it set that I can still get to Siri so I can change apps while I'm driving for safety there. But you can turn that off and Passbook and Rely with Message off when the phone is locked for maximum security.

The bottom part there is very important too. You can turn it on, Erase Data portion, to have is so that if someone enters a passcode ten times and they are wrong it will erase the entire phone. This is pretty extreme and it is not something you want to use if you commonly have say kids in the house that will grab your phone and start tapping out numbers. You could very easily erase your phone.

Of course if you have a backup regularly of your phone then it will not be as big of an issue. But this is something you should consider for maximum security.

In addition, if you go back and look at the Auto Lock feature you want to set that as something as small as you can stand, perhaps one minute, so that it locks automatically and if somebody swipes your phone from you chances are very slim that it will be within that one minute since you were last using it.

Now, this is very important. You should set a passcode and of course make sure you remember it. Write down those four digits and put them in your desk somewhere. Somewhere no one else can see them. Just in case. Make sure you have a passcode set. Otherwise anytime you loose or your iPhone is stolen anyone can get access to all your stuff and your accounts and basically go so far as to stealing your identity using what is on your iPhone.

So say you have that set and your iPhone is stolen. Now you don't want to just let it sit there. Of course you report the theft and you start steps to get a replacement. But you also want to make sure that the phone is completely deactivated.

You can remotely wipe the phone if you have set it up in advance. So to do that, in your Settings, you want to go to iCloud Preferences. Now once in there you want to go all the way to the bottom and make sure Find My iPhone is "on". You can even see there at they bottom that it tells you that you can use that to remotely lock or erase your phone. So you turn that on and now you've done that first step and that is what you need to do in advance.

So now my iPhone has been stolen and I want to completely erase it so whoever has it won't be able to get to my data. I can then go to and sign in with my account. Then go to Find My iPhone. Once I am in there I will see a list of the different phones that are signed up using this Apple ID. So once I'm in here of course I can use the map to try and locate the device. I click on Devices and I go to the device I want, the iPhone 4S there, and you can use that information to perhaps find a lost phone if somebody hasn't stolen it, or maybe even assist the police to be able to locate your phone.

But if it is time to wipe it what you need to do is click on your device there to go to it. I have three options here. One is to Play Sound. That's useful if you have lost your phone say in an empty theater and want to find it and you think you've dropped it or maybe you are in a park you can play a sound so maybe you can locate it.

You can select Lost Mode and you can Erase it. Now erasing it will completely erase the device. You won't be able to track it anymore. So it is kind of a last resort. When you know you've lost it and you are not going to get it back. You want to make sure your data is safe you can remotely wipe it.

Lost Mode is a little different. So Lost Mode does a few things. It is new for iOS 6. First it allows you to set a passcode remotely. So if you don't have one set already, well it may already be too late. They might already have access to all your stuff. But if not it at least allows you to set one now. The second thing it does is that it starts to keep track of its location. So when you log on to Find My iPhone online you can see a history of where it has been. That could help assist the police. It could also be useful say if your kid accidentally took your phone to school you could kind of get an idea what happened. The third thing it allows you to do is to set a screen that shows your phone number on the screen when they try to unlock the phone. So when an honest person has found your phone and they have no way of knowing who it belongs to, suddenly they will get a clue and you might be able to get it back.

So there you go. There are two things you need to do. One is to set a passcode to make sure you have that passcode set for your iPhone. It seems like an inconvenience but you get used to it really fast and it is much more secure than not having one. The second thing you need to do is to make sure you turn on Find My iPhone and test it out with your phone and once you have that on you will have many more options available to you should you phone get lost or stolen.

I hope you found this useful. Until next time this is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: 7 Responses to “MacMost Now 776: Securing Your iPhone”

    6 years ago

    Thanks for the important reminder.

    When using lost mode –

    1. I assume your iPhone has to be receiving a data signal

    2. You must have credit or spare data remaining in your data plan

    Does apple have agreement with phone companies to allow lost mode to work wether or not you have a data connection / credit


      6 years ago

      Not sure. Just set it to wipe automatically after 10 tries in that case.

    Bruce John Shourt
    6 years ago

    Additionally, depending on the carrier, you may also be able to set up a SIM lock passcode to prevent voice call or data use. But I don’t know if you have this and a thief powers the phone down and then up again if the Find My Phone function would then work. Do you know if a locked SIM prevents the GPS from location reporting? Or, in that case, would the phone have to be joined to Wi-Fi network to report its location?

      6 years ago

      Not sure. I’ve never heard of anyone trying it. I don’t see the additional benefit.

    6 years ago

    Very informative! This helped me learn about the importance of setting up the security and how easy it is to do. Thanks! :-)

    6 years ago

    Looks like “Find My iPhone” doesn’t work outside of US and/or in the roaming mode. My iPhone 4s, with all security features enabled, got stolen in March in DR and never surfaced in Find My iPhone. I guess, bad guys may know the way to deactivate it.

      6 years ago

      If a thief knows what he is doing he would power off the phone right away and then wipe it completely. In that case nothing can really help. That’s probably what happened. Otherwise, Find My iPhone should work as long as there is a data connection.

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