Apple devices are generally thought to be fairly secure, but that doesn’t mean that Apple users shouldn’t take basic security precautions, especially when they’re out and about.
Whether you (or users you support) are on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, here are a few key steps to Apple device security.
Lock your devices properly
Whether you’re traveling or in a crowded office, you should set a Mac to lock its screen when you’re away. In the Security section of the System Preferences app, be sure to enable the Require Password After Sleep or Screen Saver setting. Set a screen saver with a very low timeout, or use the Energy Saver settings to tell your display to shut off after a short period of inactivity.
Those settings will help you if you forget to lock your Mac, but when you walk away the computer will still be insecure for some period of time. That’s why it’s good to get in the habit of locking your Mac whenever you step away. A friend once told me a horror story of a former co-worker who would go around to unlocked computers, reading everyone’s email. Don’t trust anyone–lock your computer.
If you’re using a MacBook, this is easy–just get in the habit of closing the lid. If you’re not using a laptop, or for whatever reason don’t want to keep closing and opening the lid, you can also lock a Mac or put it to sleep with a keyboard shortcut.
To lock the screen without putting the computer to sleep, the keyboard shortcut is Shift-Control-Eject (if your keyboard doesn’t have an Eject button, use the Power button instead). To put the Mac instantly to sleep, type Command-Option-Eject. If you’ve got the Require Password After Sleep or Screen Saver feature enabled, you’ll be protected with one keystroke.
Apple pushes iOS users to set their devices to auto-lock and require at least a passcode. In iOS 9, Apple’s also phasing out the four-digit passcodes of old, and wants everyone to do a six-digit passcode. But if you’re using a device with Touch ID, I recommend enabling Touch ID and then assigning a password to your device. Not a passcode, but an out-and-out password with letters and numbers or symbols.
Most of the time, you’ll unlock your iPhone or iPad using your fingerprint. Touch ID is easy to use and quite secure. But every now and then–after a reboot and to confirm some purchases–you’ll need to enter in a password. If you had to enter a full password every time you wanted to unlock your phone, you’d go crazy, but Touch ID lets you bypass it most of the time. If you’re using Touch ID, you should have a stronger password on your phone.
Of course, you should also set your iOS devices to require a password immediately, and be sure you’re hooked up to the Find my iPhone service via Apple’s iCloud, so you can remote-wipe your device should you lose it. (Find my iPhone’s also quite handy for finding your device when it’s lost in your couch cushions or when you left it out in the car.)
And thanks to the Activation Lock feature Apple added last year, stolen iOS devices can’t be re-used without validation by logging into the Apple ID most recently associated with the