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Protecting Your iOS Device if Lost or Stolen

Now that you are starting fresh, you should take a few extras precautions to protect your privacy and information in case your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch becomes lost or stolen.

To use both of the features we’re going to discuss (data protection and tracking), you must be using a model that supports Hardware Encryption (shown on the table earlier) with iOS 4.2 or better. If you’re using a device that shipped with iOS 3 (iPhone 3GS, iPod touch 3rd generation, or iPad), you must also backup and restore the device, such as discussed earlier, after updating to iOS 4.2.

Another catch: if you want device tracking on your iPhone or iPod Touch and don’t already have a free MobileMe account, you must be using an iPhone 4 or fourth-generation iPod Touch to create the account.

First, you should enable data protection, which encrypts all the device’s data. Essentially no one can access or recover your settings or data without your passcode. However, there have been some known loopholes, so be sure to keep iOS updated.

Enabling data protection simply consists of setting a passcode on your iOS device that supports hardware encryption. However, even if you have already set a passcode, you should double-check data protection is on and review the settings:

  1. Tap Settings > General > Passcode.

     

  2. If not set, follow the prompts to create a passcode.

     

  3. After a passcode is set, scroll down to the bottom and verify it says "Data protection is enabled".

     

  4. For maximum security, you should:

     

    • Set Require Passcode to Immediately.

       

    • Set Simple Passcode to OFF, so you can set and use a longer passcode with letters too.

       

    • Set Erase Data to ON, so it automatically erases all data after ten failed passcode attempts.

       

Next, you should sign up for a free MobileMe account and active the Find My iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch feature, discussed shortly. If your device becomes lost or stolen, you can see its location on a map (if it’s connected to the Internet) by logging into your MobileMe account at me.com.

You can also make your play a sound to help find it, even if the volume is turned down or muted. You can send a customized message to be displayed on the screen, telling the person that finds it to call your number for example. If you haven’t already set a passcode, you can set one remotely or wipe the device if you have a recent backup/sync with iTunes on your PC.

Here’s how to setup tracking for your iOS device:

  1. Tap Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars.

     

  2. Tap Add Account > MobileMe.

     

  3. Enter your Apple ID and password, or create one. If you already have a MobileMe account, enter your me.com or mac.com email address and password.

     

  4. Verify your account by checking your email and visiting the verification link.

     

  5. Go back to the MobileMe screen on your iOS device and set Find My iPhone/iPad/iTouch to ON. When prompted, tap Allow.

     

Though your iOS device is now more secure, you should regularly sync it with iTunes to keep everything backed up in case it’s become lost, stolen, or broken.

Eric Geier founded NoWiresSecurity, which helps small businesses quickly and easily protect their Wi-Fi with enterprise-level security. He’s also a freelance tech writer and author of many networking and computing books, for brands like For Dummies and Cisco Press.

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