Using More Secure iPhone Passcodes

iPhone passcodes that are only 4- or 6-digits long can be easily broken by the same equipment law enforcement agencies use. While it is unlikely to be an issue for typical users, you can opt to use longer passcodes or even an alphanumeric password for your iPhone to make it nearly impossible to break.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Using More Secure iPhone Passcodes.

There's been a lot of talk recently about whether or not it's possible for somebody to break into your iPhone by getting passed your passcode. It's possible, in some cases, for law enforcement to do this for instance. The same equipment they use could get in the hands of others that could try to break into your iPhone. It's very unlikely that this is going to be a problem for you and, of course, somebody actually has to have physical possession of your iPhone for this to even be an issue. But if you want to setup a stronger passcode you can.

A four digit passcode, which used to be the standard awhile ago and it maybe something you still like to use because it is quick and easy to enter, is pretty easy to break because there are only ten thousand possible combinations with just four digits. So it's pretty easy to go through every version of those four digits and to get into your iPhone.

But if you have six digits that's a million. A hundred times more. So it's harder but still possible. You can go even longer than that and use a real password, not just a passcode which is only numbers, but a password which has letters in it as well to make it even harder to get into your phone. You just need to know where to look.

So let's do this with this iPhone here. I'm going to go into Settings. This, of course, works on the iPad too as well. Under Settings I'm going to look for Touch ID and Passcode, since this is a touch ID phone. You may see Face ID and Passcode or you may just see passcode on yours. So I'm going to enter in my current passcode and here is where I can change it. I go down to Change Passcode. It's going to ask me to enter in my old passcode to confirm. Now I can enter in my new one.

Now it's going to want me to enter in the standard six digits now. But notice that button that says Passcode Options. If I tap that I have the option to enter in a Custom Alphanumeric Code, which is just a password, a Custom Numeric Code, or 4-Digit Numeric Code. So, for instance, if I do Custom Numeric Code I can now enter in a passcode that's as long as I want. So there's an eight digit one. Now it's going to warn me that this can be easily guessed because it noticed that I just entered the numbers in order because I'm just doing a demo here. So I can say Use Anyway in this case. It's going to ask me to verify. Now I'm done.

Now what if I wanted to do a real password. Now I can hit Passcode Options. Alphanumeric. Now notice a regular keyboard appears at the bottom. So I'll just do password1234. Next. Of course you should use something much more difficult to guess than that. Preferably something random. But you can see now I have a real password set for the phone. So if I were to lock the phone and try to unlock it you could see it comes up with a real password field there at the top and then it has a keyboard at the bottom and I have to enter in the entire thing.

Now entering in a long password like that may seem like a lot of extra work. Of course, having tough ID or face ID makes it a lot easier and it may not be something that you want to do with a personal device. But if you have a work device and you work in an environment where security is important then you may need to take the extra few seconds to have a real password to protect your phone rather than just a simple numeric passcode.

Comments: 2 Responses to “Using More Secure iPhone Passcodes”

    James A Burns
    12 months ago

    what about the 10 wrong attempts and lock-out/ erase function?

    12 months ago

    James: Law enforcement currently has tools that will circumvent the wrong attempts lockout. If law enforcement has these tools, it is reasonable to expect that bad actors have them or soon will. But for most people using a 6-digit code is probably fine. But many people work at companies that require higher levels of security, even on their personal devices.

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