Each year, Apple releases a new iOS complete with new cool features and a lot of privacy and security improvements. Last year, in September, Apple released iOS 12, and eight days ago, Apple previewed iOS 12.4 beta 3, which means 12.4 will be out soon.

In all these releases, Apple has made significant security and privacy upgrades, but it is up to the user to activate these new features. Below are important security features you might have missed.

Few important security features

1. Confirm that you have turned on the USB restricted mode

The USB restricted mode ensures that any USB accessory that plugs to your iPad, iPhone, or iPod cannot make a data connection. That way, you are protected from ‘juice jacking,’ a situation where a malicious person can use a USB charging port to either install malware or steal files from your device.

To turn on the USB restricted mode, go to Settings, scroll down to Touch ID and Passcode, key in the passcode and scroll down again to USB Accessories.

2. Keep the iOS updated by ensuring automatic updates are on

Updating the operating system and all the apps in your phone is critical to maintaining your device’s security. The updates address a system vulnerability. A vulnerability is a hole in a software or operating system that a hacker can successfully exploit and access the system.

To ensure you do miss an update, enable the auto-update feature. To do so, go to Settings, select General, click Software Update, and turn on the Automatic Update option.

3. Enable two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security feature that most companies and organizations, e.g. Gmail, are employing to add an extra layer of security. In iOS 12, Apple added the feature to inject extra security to your Apple account.

Because the feature is now in-built, it is both easy to set up and use. To enable 2FA, head to Settings, tap [your name], select Password & Security, tap Turn on Two Factor Authentication and then click Continue.

The phone will prompt you to enter your number and once you have done so, verify that it is indeed your number. With that done, you have set-up 2FA, and Apple will send a text message or call anytime you log in from a strange device to confirm your identity.

That way, even if someone manages to get access to your password, they still cannot access your account because they do not have your phone number.

4. Activate ‘find my iPhone’

Find my iPhone is an inbuilt feature that allows you to locate a lost or stolen phone using GPS. Also, the feature has a selection known as Activation Lock that will prevent anyone else from using your iPhone.

That is because to deactivate the lock; one must have the password and the user’s Apple ID. Without the information, the iPhone is essentially useless because one cannot turn off the find my iPhone feature, format the device, or reactivate the phone and use it.

To activate ‘find my iPhone,’ go to Settings, User name then iCloud. Scroll until you get to Find my iPhone, then slide to turn on the feature.

5. Use a VPN when on public Wi-Fi

A virtual private network for iOS creates a secure channel between your device and the VPN’s server. The channel encrypts all the traffic to and from your device.

If you are a public Wi-Fi, then it will not matter that the network is not safe because the encrypted channel will ensure you are safe.

6. Use a strong device passcode

An iPhone has a four-character numeric passcode by default. However, it is possible to set a stronger one with more characters. Note that the longer the passcode, the longer it takes to crack it, and if it long enough, it might even be impossible to crack.

To set up a strong passcode, head to Settings, click of Touch ID & Passcode, enter current passcode, then click Custom Numeric Code. That will allow you to set a longer passcode.

Final word:

In addition to the above, you can also consider disabling the lock screen options, periodically monitoring privacy settings to ensure no app has more permissions than it needs and changing any reused passwords.