Whatever you do on your phone, you want to do safely and securely. With iOS 14 now out in the world, you should take some time to really understand the security features that come with Apple’s latest mobile operating system.
They cover everything from protecting access to your phone’s camera and microphone, to ensuring the lock screen effectively keeps other people out of your device—and the more familiar you are with them, the better you can put these protections to work.
Settings > Apple ID > Password & Security
The very top option on the iOS Settings menu leads to your Apple ID profile, and you can access account-level password and security options here. Within Password & Security, use Change Password if you think it’s leaked out somewhere, and make sure Two-Factor Authentication is turned on (it’s much safer, adding an extra level of verification on top of your username and password).
It’s also worth checking out Apps Using Apple ID—these are third-party apps connected to your account, such as fitness or email apps. From a security standpoint, you should keep this list as short as possible, and remove apps you’re no longer using (via the Edit button and the red “delete” icon).
The very last option on this menu is Recovery Key. This increases the security of your account by preventing your password from being reset over email alone. When you turn the feature on, you’ll get a recovery key, so don’t lose it—you’ll only be able to reset your password with this key or a device already linked to your Apple ID.
Settings > Display & Brightness > Auto-Lock
There’s one security-related setting on the Display & Brightness menu, and it’s Auto-Lock. The value here, from 30 Seconds to Never, determines how long your iPhone will wait before turning its screen off and sending you to the lock screen. To limit the chances of someone else picking up your phone and getting access to your apps, make this period as short as possible.
Settings > Face ID & Passcode (or Touch ID & Passcode)
This is where you can set up faces and fingerprints that control access to your iPhone—obviously these should be yours and no one else’s. You can control which apps and features these biometric security features control access to (from Apple Pay to Password AutoFill), and if you prefer to use a passcode, you can change that here, too.
From the same menu, you can also control the information that shows up on the lock screen, including the Notification Center, Siri, and the Reply with Message feature (the ability to reply to an incoming text with a preset response). Turn off anything that you don’t want to be accessible without unlocking the phone.
Settings > Privacy
This is where you’ll find the bulk of your security and privacy settings. The top option, Location Services, enables you to control access to your phone’s location at the app and system levels. If you don’t want any app or even your iPhone itself to know where you are, turn the Location Services toggle switch off.
By tapping on each app listed underneath, you can let some access your location but not others. The options you’ll see when you tap on an app are Never (no location access at all), Ask Next Time (ask for location access), While Using the App (location access while the app is running), and Always (location access at all times).
The same screen may display a Precise Location toggle switch that’s new in iOS 14. If you only want an app using Location Services to know your approximate location, turn this toggle switch off. Apple hasn’t specified how “approximate” this is, but it you use it with Google Maps, for example, it shows you a shaded circle about 5 miles in diameter instead of a pinpointed location.
Back on the Privacy screen, you can control app access to other parts of your phone—your Contacts and Calendars, for example, or the Camera and Bluetooth connections. Apps will ask for these permissions as and when they need them, but you can allow or deny them at any time from these screens.
Settings > Passwords
Apple will keep a careful eye on the login credentials you use across various apps, if you’d like, and it does so via iCloud across all of the devices you’ve signed into with the same Apple ID.
Pick Passwords from the Settings menu to check the passwords Apple has stored. If you tap Security Recommendations, you’ll see which of your passwords are problematic: Either the password is too easy to guess, you’re using it across multiple apps and sites, or it’s been spotted in a data breach. Links to change your password will be included where necessary.
Tap on any of the app and website entries on the Passwords menu, and you’ll be able to see the credentials you’ve got saved, make changes to them, and delete them from Apple’s record if you need to.
Settings > Safari
Staying safe while browsing the web is an important part of keeping your iPhone secure, and if you delve into the Safari options in Settings you can turn on some useful anti-tracking and user privacy features for the default browser.
Block Pop-ups will put a halt to aggressive advertising that appears in a new Safari window, while Prevent Cross-Site Tracking blocks third-party cookies that try to monitor your online activities across multiple sites. For the minimum amount of tracking, you can Block All Cookies, though this will stop you from staying logged into sites and some websites may not work properly.
You should also turn on the Fraudulent Website Warning, which will do exactly what it suggests: warn you about sites Safari thinks look suspicious, and which you should avoid giving any login or payment information.
Safari tracking report
Not every security and privacy feature in iOS comes with an associated menu option. Safari tracking reports, for example, are new in iOS 14 and will tell you much more about the websites you’re visiting. To see the report and a list of all the tracking cookies blocked on the website you’re currently viewing in Safari, tap on the AA button to the left of the address bar, then choose Privacy Report.
Camera and microphone indicators
Another new security feature in iOS 14 that comes without a menu or option screen attached is the use of little indicator buttons, up in the top right-hand corner of the display. These show when the camera (green) or the microphone (orange) is being used—so apps can’t access them surreptitiously. Open the Control Center (swipe down from the top right) and you’ll see apps that have recently accessed the camera or microphone listed at the top.