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Setting up a Secure Phone: A Complete How-To Guide for Privacy Paranoids and Whistleblowers (2020)


Using a public (coffee shop or airport) Wi-Fi is a sin but you may be tempted to use it and surf the web. VPN encrypts online activities. Trust me, it saves you from eavesdroppers or hackers. In the Android world, you can use:

Smart Lock

Use it on and off. Keep updating or off it when not auto-fill is not needed. This is because hackers could take benefit of it. Security > Sign in > Saved Passwords > Toggle On/Off per need.

How to get a secure phone – iPhone?

Like every clockwork, every year a new iPhone is launched with a new iOS for the pre-existing models. This is a great excitement for users – as well as – hackers. Recently, a renowned hacking team has launched a new “jailbreak” technique that unlocks every “walled garden” iPhone – even the latest iOS 13.5. New features help to minimize cyber risks. Here are some tips to do so:

On your automatic iOS updates

Updating OS is important, as these address software (past) weaknesses. A specific code by a hacker can target this vulnerability, if you don’t frequently update your operating system. You can auto-on it: Go to Settings > Press general > Tap software update to turn on automatic updates

USB Restricted Mode

This prevents juice jacking. At simplest, it means when you can install a malware or information could be stolen by plugging in an USB port. You can on it by: Go to settings > Scroll down to Touch ID & Passcode > Please type in your passcode and scroll further down to USB Accessories not permitted on the lock screen > Turn it off in case it is on.

Toggle on built-in Find my iPhone

This is a tracking software that uses GPS to locate a stolen phone. The activation lock prevents hackers from using your iPhone and to gain access to your useful data. If you want to get a hold of it, use your Apple ID and password because without it a hacker cannot turn off your Find My iPhone feature. You can enable it by: Go into your settings > User name > iCloud > Scroll down to Find My iPhone > Turn it on and activate it to send your recent location > Since you are asked to login, use your Apple ID here.

Get rid of specific widgets in your lock screen

Widgets is a shortcut to features like Wi-Fi, wallet, Bluetooth, and camera, since it is part of iPhone lock screen hackers can swipe up your personal information. To disable you can: Toggle on to settings > control center or Toggle off those widgets that you do not want in your lock screen.

Make yourself habitual of VPN while using public Wi-Fi

It allows you to serve the internet safely while using coffee shop Wi-Fi or airport Wi-Fi.

Privacy settings bi-weekly or periodic monitoring

Audit your iPhone where you would want to delete unwanted applications that consume more space. Most notably, you can find an email regarding changes in privacy policies, keep a close eye to it. You are just two clicks away from privacy – go to settings > tap privacy. You can revise the permitted applications and revoke them where unnecessary.

Unique passwords

Make unique alpha-numeric passcodes, a password generating tool can help. Instead of auto-filling it (by saving the information) you can write down the unique password on paper for future use. You can set the passcode by: Going to settings and Touch ID & Passcode > Enter Passcode > You can select a custom numeric code or generate it online and type here (while writing it down on a piece of paper).


It adds a second layer to your privacy and security. You can either choose a PIN, password, or pattern. You can opt for fingerprint or similar biometric authentication. Thirdly, you can opt a credit card, phone, USB token as an additional identity verification. You can follow the prompts after: Sliding to settings > Press on your name, and go to Password & Security > Scroll down to find 2FA and turn it on.

Choose Auto-Lock

You can limit the screen activity time by opting auto-lock, click on settings > Scroll down to general button > Select Auto-Lock.

iOS 12 feature: Password Audit

As the name suggests, it asks you to frequently change your pre-used passwords. It is hefty work to select an alphanumeric or unique password for each account, the rule is least followed. This feature helps to manage your password in an easier manner. The stored passwords will be audited to spot any of the repeated patterns. The report will let you know. You can opt to audit or change your reused passwords: Settings > Passwords & Accounts > Look up for Website & App Passwords > Click it to enter your passcode > A red “warning” triangle will let you know if duplicate password > You can then revise it using password generating tool.

Backup encryption is needed

We back-up our business chats regularly, we pay less attention to encryption. If you encrypt your valuable back up data, it will reduce the vulnerability to hacking. The best encryption is to connect it with iTunes, which can encrypt your backups. This also allows you to maintain a separate password for this encryption. Connect your device to open iTunes > The Backup section contains the “Encrypt iPhone Backup” option, click it to create a separate password.

Do not share location information

iOS 13 allows you to limit image location metadata, to enable it when you share your image click on option, where you can see location option, toggle it off or deselect it.

Turn off Siri

As talkative Siri is she can pass on your data to hackers without your permission, she asks for verification to get access to sensitive information but hackers are smarter and can fool around Siri. Settings > Touch ID & Passcode > Turn off the allow access when locked option.

Auto-fill should be off

This is the easiest way for hackers to get access to your information. To disable it please visit your settings > Safari > Autofill > disable each permission.


This guide was to educate you with the approaches of being highly private and have a secure phone when you are a journalist or associated to such profession where leaks are common and can cost you your life. To be open, the above links were not just shared for some traffic generation or affiliation; they are here because they are accurate and give you a vast overview of what to expect, and how to compete with it. Today SIM hacks are very common even among the famous ones like Jeff Bezos, or the celebs like Amanda Cerny or King Bach. Thanks to the services of Efani for providing military grade protection , and above and beyond services! Even I as a writer is following the above the guide as a result of my research for being as secure as I can because you never know what to expect or who’s watching you.Source