Your phone may not be as safe as you think. Especially if you have an iPhone. And there's a pretty good chance you do since apple announced earlier this year they've sold 500 million iPhones.
But in a test of over one million users, researchers from marble labs show Apple's IOS is no more secure than other systems, even though users think their information is safe. Consumer reports estimates the financial damage from identity theft through mobile devices is over 30 billion dollars a year.
But don't panic! The good news is you already have everything you need to make your iPhone more secure. And it all starts with your passcode.
Security researcher Robert Lee says, "We recommend to change it from a simple numeric only passcode to something that has numbers and letters. With [the iPhone], there's a setting that says simple passcode. And by turning that off, we're now able to set a more intelligent passcode."
This option also allows you to incorporate keyboard symbols into your passcode without a limit on length. This makes it a lot harder for thieves to get into your phone if it's stollen.
But theft is only part of the problem. Advertisers can easily gain access to your phone by using your apps like doorways into your personal information.
Another security researcher, Tomi Tuominen, adds, "When you log into your Facebook for example, they're able to combine the tracking id with your real world identity. That's how they actually know who you are." And with over 75 billion downloads from the app store, that's a lot of your information leaked to advertisers ... but you can cut them off at the source.
Lee explains, "If you were to go into settings and then privacy and then advertising, there's a couple of things you can do here. One this is you can limit the ad tracking ... the other setting here, the reset advertising identifier, that changes the device ID that the applications see."
Think of it as putting your phone in the witness protection program. The new ID makes it harder for the outside applications to find.
But maybe the most disturbing feature is how your iPhone has been keeping tabs on you and you didn't even know it.
"If you go to system services and then frequent locations, you can see a list of all the locations that you've been, and you can zoom in," Robert Lee says. "You can even get the addresses of each location. You know how long you were at a certain location from this time to this time."
If this totally creeps you out, you can allow certain apps to see your location and leave the others in the dark.
Ultimately, the best thing you can do for your security is know your phone. With an understanding of your personal settings you can help guard against thieves, hackers, and advertisers. And keep your private information ... private.
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