30 March 2010

Improving iPhone Security

Since my iPhone has email and a bunch of other sensitive information on it, I’ve always set a passcode. But I’ve always been a bit dubious about the security of a 4-digit code. In fact, one of my coworkers once saw what I entered as we were walking down the street. While I’m not really worried about coworkers, and 10000 possibilities might be enough given there’s an Erase Data option, I still wanted more security — especially once I get an iPad and may have more data on it.

Enter iPhone Configuration Utility. While this has a wide variety of enterprise options, it’s actually easy to make a simple profile.

Download and install the utility (there’s also a Windows version). Launch it, and click “Configuration Profiles” in the left pane. Click “New” in the toolbar. Enter a name and ID in the “General” section, then click “Passcode.” Now you can set up a more secure passcode — more than 4 characters, letters as well as numbers, etc. (You don’t actually choose the passcode here.)

Then attach your iPhone via USB. Click it in the left pane. Click the “Configuration Profile” tab, then click the “Install” button for your new profile. You’ll confirm this on the device.

Now you can set up a passcode as usual, in Settings > General > Passcode Lock.

Now when you unlock the screen, you’ll get a full keyboard instead of a 10-digit pad. Note that you’ll still be able to make emergency calls (911) without unlocking.

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