Eight easy steps to iPhone security

Apple's irresistible iPhone is a prize for thieves, vandals, and hackers too. Follow these tips to protect your device and its data.

4. Secure your iTunes host. Your PIN affords you little protection if someone gets hold of your computer. That's because your PC or Mac keeps a complete image of the flash memory in your iPhone. From this recovery image, a skilled hacker could read all of the data on the phone. It only takes a few seconds to move that firmware image from your disk to a thumb drive. And it takes little time or skill to replace that image with one that can reflash your iPhone's firmware with something nasty. The smartest way to go is to keep your iPhone backups on your own thumb drive. This makes automatic restores and updates slightly more challenging, but it's worth it.

5. Don't jailbreak your iPhone. The iPhone jailbreak process purposely disarms the mechanisms that Apple created to protect your data. With App Store, a trusted party tests and vouches for the software, and Apple can trigger an uninstall of an app if a risk is discovered later. The protections offered by open source projects --multiple contributors, readily viewable code, and a central location for comments and fixes -- don't exist in the jailbreak world. I'll grant that jailbreaking an iPod Touch or a retired iPhone can be good fun. Relying on a jailbroken iPhone as your primary mobile device is idiotic.

It's so quick and easy to jailbreak an iPhone that it takes a minimum of social engineering to trick a trusting user into bypassing Apple's built-in guard against modified firmware. It's a simple sell: By holding down one key while clicking Restore, you don't waste time waiting for new firmware to download from Apple. Don't fall for it. Always download firmware directly from Apple.

6. Hide sensitive data in plain sight. The iPhone has no device-wide data encryption. It does support encrypted databases, but the inconvenience of having to unlock the data every time you want to read it may limit your use of it. As an alternative, hide some of your most sensitive data in plain sight by scattering it across nonobvious places, like your iPod library and browser bookmarks. Embed what you really need to protect in nontext form, such as buried among lots of images or audio, to avoid discovery by string scanning of your desktop or firmware. As a bonus (or not, in some cases), using iPod files syncs your secrets across iPod, iTunes, MobileMe, and AppleTV.

7. Use FileVault on the Mac or EFS on Vista. On a Mac, create a separate user account with a strong password, apply FileVault protection (using System Preferences), and activate and manage your iPhone exclusively from that account. If you never leave that account logged in, you can reinforce other desktop protection methods or skip them entirely. On Windows Vista, consider using Encrypted File System (EFS) to encrypt the entire iTunes file tree. Neither of these methods protects data on your iPhone, but it does guard against insertion of doctored firmware or simple copying of data.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags iPhone

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tom Yager

InfoWorld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?