Home > Identity Theft > iPhone 5: How to Keep It Secure

Comments 1 Comment

With Apple’s anticipated announcement Wednesday that it is rolling out the fifth edition of its wildly popular iPhone, we can expect to see more lines of avid Appleheads queuing up outside Apple stores around the country, waiting to become the first ones to get their hands on the shiny new devices.

But could there also be another line after that: A line of hackers waiting to steal iPhone users’ identities? Apple products, once considered safe from hackers, now have become targets for sophisticated attacks. This month, a group of hackers named AntiSec claimed that they stole over 12 million Apple device identification numbers from the computer of an FBI agent.

That claim later appeared to be debunked by Paul DeHart, CEO of a Florida company named Blue Toad, who told NBC News that his company was the source of the leaked information.

Whatever the source of the leak, the device ID numbers could cause problems for iPhone users, since the numbers are linked to owners’ names, cell phone numbers and home addresses.

“Cell phones, especially smartphones, are a key to anyone’s identity these days,” says Ondrej Krehel, information security officer at IdentityTheft911.com.

The iPhone 5 will have plenty of security upgrades over former versions, Krehel says. It also will have a new operating system, new apps, and loads of new features, all of which could make it vulnerable to attack.

“You’ll see more complexity, more applications that haven’t been in production very long,” says Krehel. “So there’s definitely more room for error.”

All that complexity makes it even more important that Apple users secure their new phones. Here are some tips for how to do it. (Hint: All of these tips apply even if you have older versions of the iPhone, or other types of phones including Androids.)

No, Really. Use Passwords.

You’ve heard it many times before: Lock up your phone with a password. It’s an easy thing to do, and it can save you from many potential problems. Think of all the data sitting on your phone: Your email accounts, bank accounts, social media, all your texts, and your address lists, not to mention all your apps.

You don’t want all that information falling into the hands of a hacker or a petty thief.

“Your phone is the key to unlocking a large trove of information about you,” Krehel says. “A password is the first step in securing all of it.”

Not only should your phone be locked, but all the applications should be, too. If you have an iPhone, you should also put a password on the SIM card to help prevent a thief from using your cell phone account, Krehel says.

Phone Financials.

All iPhone 5’s will come pre-loaded with iWallet, Apple’s new suite of programs to help users manage their banking and financial needs. Many other smartphones have similar capabilities.

It’s critically important to set up these applications correctly from the start, Krehel says. Your phone password may only be four digits long, but make sure that each of your bank and financial passwords is long, and includes both numbers and letters. Never click the “Remember Me” button on your bank’s site. This may add convenience, but it also opens the door for any hacker or thief to access your bank account with the click of a button. Having trouble remembering all of these passwords? Download a program that creates an encrypted lock box on your phone specifically to store all your different passwords.

“The encryption on those programs is really strong,” Krehel says.

If you take pictures of checks you’re depositing, be sure to delete those pictures once the deposit has gone through. Also, set up automatic notifications — by both text and email — of any unusual transactions, such as money moving between accounts, or large amounts being withdrawn at a time.

“That way, if they steal your phone you’ll still get an email, and if they hack your email you’ll still get a text,” says Krehel.

Manage Your Connections.

WiFi, Bluetooth, USB cords — anything that can connect to your phone is also a potential vector of attack, says Krehel. If you connect the phone to another device using the USB port, make sure you enter a password before completing the connection.

Bluetooth devices, especially older ones, are notoriously vulnerable to hackers, Krehel says. The best defense: Anytime you’re not using it, turn it off. And the age-old advice for laptops in coffee shops applies here too: Only use WiFi networks that require you to enter a password.

Use a Remote.

Many apps enable you to locate your device, lock it up, and wipe all the data off it, all from remote. Apple has iCloud, and Android users can use Android Lost, among others. You can also do the same thing in the cloud.

Image: Ben Becker, via Flickr

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team