A Wired article caught our attention recently. Written in it was the chance of NSA spying on your iPhone even when it's switched off – a possibility that is scary and debated. While the conspiracy theorists and paranoids talk about NSA's ever-increasingly-scary capabilities in privacy-intrusion, let's take a careful look at what the article posits and what we need to be alert about.
Often, what's written is misinterpreted and misconstrued. And many times, it's easier to do that because the written word is crafted to sound ominous and alarming. Contrary to the ideas floating around the web after Wired published the article, your iPhone is not playing dead when it's switched off. And a malware of the type hinted by the article is really really hard to install on the iPhone
How to Secure iPhone Data from Prying Eyes and Snooping
The Super Paranoid Theory
There's a thin line of separation between being paranoid and being aware of things. It's true that there are exploits in iPhone that can be leveraged but it's enormously hard to have your iPhone hacked into and malware placed in it without your knowledge or suspicion. But there's only so much you can do when someone tells you, “if you're going to be paranoid, you might as well be super-paranoid.”
Yes, the NSA snooping is scary as hell and is actually so bad that nothing makes sense. Neither the government nor the agency is ready to accept that what is being done is outside the realms of ethics and legality. There is also the case where NSA has been intercepting packages and installing stuff in gadgets before delivering them. It's pathetically bad.
Having said all that, it's no help getting super-paranoid. But there are few steps that you can take to ensure that your iPhone is safe from prying eyes:
- The DFU Mode + Hard Reset
- Don't Install Random Apps
- Don't Sideload Apps from Outside App Store
- Keep Your Apple ID & iCloud account safe
- Don't Share Location Data with All Apps
- Use VPN apps to browse safely and provide more safeguard to your private information.
The DFU Mode+Hard Reset
In the Wired article, it's mentioned that it's possible to install a malware in the iPhone. When you turn off your smartphone, then, it doesn't necessarily turn it off but only fakes a switch-off.
Yes, that's possible but very highly unlikely unless you give your iPhone to someone who installs a malware that you can almost easily figure out it's there. Remotely installing something on your device is not possible unless it's an app you willingly download.
Still, if you want to make sure you've got things secure; do a DFU mode or a hard reset. Here's how to get into the DFU mode (only useful if you are upgrading the firmware). A hard reset is when you press and hold the power and home button simultaneously till the screen goes blank. (On your iPhone 7/7 Plus, you need to press and hold on your volume down and power ON/OFF buttons at once for about ten seconds until you see Apple logo on the screen.)
Don't Install Random Apps from the App Store
All apps in the App Store are checked for malicious code and content by Apple. The verification system is too strict to let any flawed app to break into the security radar.
Even then, don't install random apps from the App Store. If you come across any new interesting app, make sure to check its review both within the App Store and elsewhere on the web before going on to install it.
Don't Sideload Apps from Outside App Store
I would also recommend you not to sideload apps from outside App Store.
There are a number of interesting apps like GBA4iOS which are worth having a try. But if you want provide more security to your device, avoid downloading such apps.
Keep Your Apple ID & iCloud account safe
The most important part of it all is your Apple ID / iCloud account. This is because it controls your iPhone's Find My iPhone, most of the backup data (including stuff that syncs like Photos, Contacts, Mail, Documents and more). Once someone hacks into your Apple ID, they can access a ton of stuff, erase your data and do much damage.
Change passwords occasionally and have strong passwords. Also, don't let others access your Apple ID.
Don't Share Location Data with All Apps
Many apps require location data. iOS asks for your permission whenever an app requests location data. While it makes sense to share your location data with apps that require it (maps and navigation apps for instance), it is not necessary that you should do so. Only share the data with apps that you trust.
Use Password Manager Apps to Securely Log into Apps
There are a number of top notch password manager apps which allow you to handle passwords effortlessly. You can use them to provide more shield to your master keys and also securely log into apps and websites. Check out this finest list of the best password manager apps and pick out the one that suits your needs better.
Use VPN Apps
VPN (virtual private network) apps are very helpful in safeguarding your private information from hackers. They allow you to use web with the desired security. For instance, you can instantly log into websites using login details with more protection. Head over to this premier collection of the best VPN iPhone apps and choose the one that suits your needs the better.
Without any doubt, iOS device is the most secure. However, there is nothing like invincible thing in the world. Hence, you should be extra cautious and the provide the desired shield to your private information. Have any feedback? Feel free to share your valuable thoughts with us in the comments below.
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