How to protect your privacy on an iOS device


Learn how to keep your iOS devices–and your data–secure with these iOS 13 privacy settings and Apple resources.

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Image: CNET

It’s hard to maintain a sense of privacy when you’re constantly connected to the internet. Apps track your location, what you do on your devices, and have access to personal data you expect to be private.

Thankfully, it’s not impossible to maintain some privacy, and in the case of iOS 13 devices, it’s not tough at all, provided you follow these steps.

SEE: Apple’s Face ID: An insider’s guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

How to get an Apple personal privacy overview

Before auditing your iOS device, start by visiting Apple’s personal privacy page. This is where you can see what Apple has collected about you, request a copy of your personal data, amend your data, and do other privacy tasks. Bookmark this portal so you can audit your data periodically.

How to access the Privacy page in your iOS 13 Settings app

Open the Settings app on your iOS device, then scroll down until you find Privacy. Tapping that takes you to the Privacy screen, which shows a list of types of data your iOS device contains (Figure A). Tap one of these categories to see a list of all the apps on your device that have access to that type of data.

Go through the list, and look for apps you don’t recognize or no longer use, or apps that don’t need that type of permission. Revoke it by sliding the button on the right side of the screen over so it’s greyed out.

Figure A

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How to limit the sharing of your location data in iOS 13

Open Location Services from the Privacy page to manage apps that track your location (Figure B)–you will probably find apps that don’t need that access. You can set individual apps to either always have access to your location, have access only when being used, ask for permission next time you open it, or have no permission at all. iOS 13 will show a small flag next to apps that have recently requested location data–pay extra attention to those apps.

The Location Services page is where you can turn the Share My Location option on or off and tweak its settings. You can control whether family members can see where you are and turn the Find My iPhone option on and off.

Figure B

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How to control what data Apple collects about your iOS devices

Apple collects iPhone and iPad usage data for the purpose of improving iOS, Siri, and other Apple services. If you’ve opted in, your device is transmitting data to Apple, and while it isn’t identifying you personally, it can be unnerving that it’s being shared without your knowledge.

Control what you share with Apple from the Privacy page. Scroll to the bottom, and tap Analytics & Improvements to learn more about what you’re sharing, why you’re sharing it, and toggle it off or on (Figure C).

Figure C

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How to block advertising in your iOS apps

Apple shares data with advertisers about what you do so they can tailor ads in iOS apps to suit your tastes. If you don’t like the idea, you can stop Apple from customizing your ad feeds on the Privacy page.

Tap Advertising at the bottom of the Privacy page, and you can toggle the Limit Ad Tracking option on and see what’s been shared (Figure D). Reset your personal ad data if you want to wipe out the information that Apple is already using to target you with ads.

Figure D

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How to determine what your apps can access on your iOS device

The main screen of the Settings app shows a list of all the third-party apps installed on your iOS device. Tap an app to see everything it has access to (Figure E). From here, you can choose to change how it displays notifications, block it from using cellular data, turn off location data access, and more.

Figure E

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How to prevent your locked phone from revealing sensitive data

When you get a notification, some of your personal information is displayed on your device’s screen, regardless of what app you’re using. A locked device still displays notifications, and anyone who walks by and glances at your locked screen can see the notifications you’ve recently received–unless you toggle this privacy setting on.

Tap Notifications on the main screen of the Settings app, and look for Show Previews (Figure F). You can change it so that notifications that appear on your locked screen don’t display information until the device is unlocked, or you can toggle lock screen notifications off entirely. This is also where you change how individual apps display notifications.

Figure F

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How to learn more about Apple’s privacy features

Apple’s privacy control overview page on its website contains a lot of information about how to secure your device, such as enabling Face ID, turning on two-factor authentication, and more. Be sure to read the Apple privacy page if you want to take additional steps to secure your device.

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