Does My iPhone Need an Antivirus? Everything To Know About Securing Your iPhone

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Security is at or near the top of people’s lists when it comes to their devices and technology. Nobody wants their personal information or data stolen, so we all make sure our security is up to par. For laptops and other computers, this usually means installing some form of antivirus software. This software helps the computer catch any potentially harmful malware before it can cause real damage to your computer.

Most of us have been conditioned to believe that every single device we own needs some kind of antivirus software to be safe. However, that is simply not true for the iPhone or iPad. A number of companies and apps have made claims that their products will help protect your iPhone, but that is simply not true. An iPhone has no need for an antivirus software at all.

The reason for this is that Apple has said on numerous occasions that iOs was designed with security as the number one core issue. But to really understand why an iPhone doesn’t need sort of any additional antivirus protection, you need to understand how apps work on iPhones vs. how programs will work on a different system.

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On the iPhone, each app is kept completely separate from the system itself, which is commonly known as sandboxing. This is very different from how other operating systems work. For example, for an antivirus to work, it has to be able to dig deep into the operating system and latch on in order to catch viruses. However, just the fact that an operating system can be “latched” onto like that means it can be vulnerable to attacks. This is because, if the antivirus can get that deep into the OS, who’s to say a virus can’t as well?

Due to the strong barrier between the apps and iOs itself, antivirus software won’t even work on the iPhone as it is unable to penetrate deep enough to “latch”.  This also prevents apps you download from accessing things like photos, contacts, fingerprint information or anything else. Also, Apple keeps a very close eye on the apps that they accept, which means there is a much lower chance you will ever accidently download malware that is disguised as an app. While this often means less customization and control for the user, it means a much less chance of a security breach than using other operating systems.

However, when you jailbreak your phone, that is a different story. Jailbreaking is the process of removing software restrictions on the iPhone. This will allow you to download apps, extensions and other things that you wouldn’t normally be able to do on the iPhone. While this gives you a ton more customization options, it also opens you up to the possibility of security problems. This is because jailbreaking allows you to download apps that aren’t officially approved by the app store, which means they could potentially be harmful.

So as long as you don’t jailbreak your iPhone, there is no need at all to worry about antivirus software on your phone. Even if you do jailbreak, as long as you don’t download anything sketchy, you should be okay and your phone’s information should still remain safe.

While you don’t need an antivirus software or app installed on your iPhone, there are some different security options at your disposal so you can feel safer using your device. While your device is generally safe as is, these security options can help give you the peace of mind that you are going above and beyond to make sure your device (and it’s information) is safe.

Keep Your Phone As Private as Possible

Even if you have a passcode and use Touch ID, your lock screen can give away more information than you think. While the Control Center and Notification Center are useful, they can also let people see your messages and updates, as well as make changes to your phone such as turning airplane mode on. You should be keeping your phone as private as possible so people can’t see sensitive information, especially on your lock screen, which anyone can see.

Also, make sure that you require the entry of a password before each and every app purchase. While yes, this may be somewhat annoying, it will prevent some accidental purchases by you, your friends or your children. Also, if someone unsavory gets ahold of your phone, it will stop them from running wild and purchasing a ton of apps on your phone.

Watch The WiFi

Most of us like to think that we are completely safe using WiFi. But this isn’t often the case. If you are using a public WiFi like one at a coffee shop or hotel, know that these aren’t normally very secure and there are likely dozens of others on the same WiFi, and their intentions may not all be good. Even home WiFi can be compromised easier than most would think. You would be surprised at how many homes still us WEP to secure their networks. These can easily be hacked by amateurs and can lead to people having access to your home network. The better option is to use WPA to ensure your network is safe and secure at all times.

Make Sure Your Phone Auto-Locks

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While your phone constantly locking after only a few seconds of not being used can take some getting used to, it is one of the best ways to protect your data. If you phone is not set to auto-lock for a few minutes you could potentially leave it on a table and someone could get to it before it locks up. Opting for the 30 second of 1-minute auto lock seems to be the way to go.

Get Tough On App Access

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Every time you open and use a new app, it will likely ask you for permission to access your photos, location, contacts or other information. Unless that access is directly required for the app to work, you really shouldn’t allow too many apps to access your info. Many different apps will ask for access to information it doesn’t even need and sometimes we will give it to them. If you go to Settings>Privacy>Location Services, you can see just how many apps you gave permission to know your location. If those apps don’t need to know your location, it is recommended that you cease allowing them to access it on a regular basis.

Don’t Give In To Convenience

It seems that there is often a power struggle between security and convenience. Everyone wants their life to be as secure as possible, but they also want convenience. Fact is, you have to make sacrifices on one side or the other. If you want the utmost security, accessing your device or specific apps could take longer. But if this process is streamlined and quick, you likely give up some security. Don’t potentially put your phone at risk by saving a few seconds.

Put Thought Into Your Passcode

Obviously, if you want your phone to be secure, you should use both Touch ID as well as a passcode. However, sometimes, just having a passcode isn’t enough. You would be surprised at how many people simply use codes like “1,1,1,1,1,1” or “1,2,3,4,5,6” for their passcodes. A lot more use things like their birthday, but that is also very easy for almost anyone to find out and hack. The best option is to use a passcode that no one would ever expect. Also, it can be smart to change your passcode often as well.

Stop Your Phone From Tracking You

You may not even know this, but your phone is often tracking everywhere you go. Not only is it tracking this information, it is also recording this information right into your phone. This is a feature called “Frequent Locations” and thankfully, it can be stopped. Go to Settings>Privacy>Location Services>System Services and then find Frequent Locations. From there, the option can be turned off.

Use “Find My iPhone”

This is one of the most important apps on the iPhone and you should set it up right now if you haven’t already. The primary use of this app is to locate your phone when it is lost of stolen. When your phone is stolen, that is by far the biggest chance for your private information to be compromised. Thankfully, Find My iPhone is capable of securely locking your phone remotely and can even erase all of the data on it if you fear you will never get the phone back. Without the use of this app, the chance of finding your lost or stolen phone (and protecting its data) is slim to none.

Set Up Two-Factor Authentication 

This is perhaps the best way to potentially stop hackers from accessing your data. Before you can log into your Apple account, they will send a code to a device that only you will have, such as your phone or iPad. This means that even if someone else has your username and password, they will still not be able to access your account without that code and they will never be able to get it, as it will go to your device only.

All of these options are great in making sure that your private information stays private. Just because the iPhone doesn’t need antivirus software doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to have a more secure device. With hacking and malware evolving and becoming more crafty, security is something that none of us should take lightly, especially when it comes to our personal and sensitive information.

Posted by Kale Havervold on December 30, 2016

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