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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Productivity

Calm, Cool, and Protected: 3 Ways to Keep Your Apple Devices Safe

If you’re like me, you can’t function without your iPhone or iPad—even if you hate to admit it. From email and bank accounts to Facebook walls and work documents, we like having our vital information right at our fingertips, wherever we go.

But what happens if all this crucial data gets into the wrong hands? You know how horrifying it would be to lose your phone or have your tablet stolen. So are you doing everything you can to protect your personal details that live on them? Read on for some simple ways keep your mobile devices safe and secure.

1. Set up Safe Settings

You probably store contacts, emails, calendars, default logins, and various passwords on your device—not exactly information you want floating around. So you should have a passcode lock active, which requires you to enter a passcode to gain access to your phone.

How to Do It

Turn on the Passcode option by going to “Settings,” and then “General.” If you want an extra layer of protection, set “Simple Passcode” to off and create a more complex passcode than the standard four numbers.

Another basic setting you can enable is Auto Erase, which will automatically erase your data if your password is entered incorrectly 10 times.

2. Back it Up

Most of us consider making back-ups of the files on our computers, but we don’t think about just how much information we stand to lose on our phones and tablets. But there's a lot of info that lives on our mobile devices—think contacts, photos, and the notes you took on your iPad at that conference. It’s crucial to regularly back up your device and save your data so you’re safe if it’s lost or stolen—or just decides to crash.

How to Do It

To do this, log into iTunes, go to “Preferences,” and navigate to the “Device Options” screen. Then, ensure that the “Open iTunes when this iPhone is connected” and “Sync with this iPhone over Wi-Fi” boxes are selected. Now, whenever your iPhone is hooked up and within range of your computer, it’ll back up over Wi-Fi! If you use your device for work, back it up weekly. For personal devices, monthly is probably good enough.

3. Get a Locator App

A more extensive measure that you can take to secure your info is to configure the Find My iPhone app for the iPhone 4 and 4S and iPad 2. If your device is lost or stolen, the app allows you to track it with GPS tracking and lock it or wipe the system remotely. You can even customize warning signals and messages that override silent mode. Don’t have the most updated gadgets? For those still using older operating systems, there are comparable alternatives, such as Mobile Me.

Some other security apps to consider: Lookout Mobile Security, which can back up your data and manage your privacy and Wi-Fi network settings; or My Eyes Only and iDiscrete, which provide a virtual safe to store all your important data under encryption.

How to Do It

All these security apps can be downloaded directly from iTunes, but the Find My iPhone app may already be on your phone if you have iCloud set up. Check by going to "Settings," then "iCloud," and tap "Turn on Find my iPhone." To set up iCloud on your computer, download the iCloud Control Panel, then turn on "iCloud" and "Enable Automatic Downloads."

As we become more dependent on our phones, it’s important to treat them as securely as we do our computers. All it takes is a few easy steps, and you can feel confident that you’re keeping the critical personal details housed on your mobile devices for your eyes only.

Photo courtesy of Yutaka Tsutano.