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March 25, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 2:26pm

Top 10 tips for securing an iPad Air

How to keep your iPad safe, as well as the data stored on it.

By Duncan Macrae

The iPad Air is generally regarded as one of the finest tablets on the market today. It’s a high quality device, which is naturally reflected in its price tag. So it’s definitely worth taking some time to protect it as best you can. Here are our top tips for securing your beloved iPad, as well as protecting your valuable data stored on it.

Create a Strong Passcode

First of all, set a code – many people don’t even bother with this. But take some time to think about how you can make your code as strong as possible.
I’ve met many IT security experts and they all take great pleasure in trying to guess people’s passcodes. The worrying thing is that they’re pretty good at it. From what they’ve told me, the most common number in peoples’ passcodes is 8 and a large percentage of people just pick two numbers and repeat them, such as 6868.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common passcodes, as discovered by app developer Daniel Amitay.

The most popular is 1234 (the equivalent of setting your password as ‘password’), followed by 0000, 2580, 111, 555, 5683, 0852, 222, 1212 then 1998.

So, pick something that’s memorable to you but not so guessable for everybody else.

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Keep your iPad clean (or filthy)

So, you’ve chosen a great passcode. Nobody will guess that, right? You could be wrong. And your greasy fingerprint marks could be what give it away.

When you touch your iPad screen faint but visible marks are left by your fingers. It is possible for criminals to use these telltale signs to make guessing your passcode much easier.

To avoid this, give your screen a quick wipe after every use. Alternatively, never clean it at all and keep it extra filthy.

Turn on Find My iPad

If you have lost your iPad, this setting could prove to be invaluable. First of all, you need to have iCloud services turned on. If you skipped this step when setting up your iPad, you can still turn it on.

Visit ‘Settings’, then tap ‘iCloud’. If you’re asked to sign in, enter your Apple ID or, if you don’t have one, tap ‘Get a Free Apple ID’, then follow the instructions.

To turn on ‘Find My iPad’, visit ‘Settings’, then ‘Privacy’, followed by ‘Location Services’. Ensure that ‘Location Services’ is turned on then select and turn on ‘Find My iPad’.


Prevent Disabling of Find My iPad

There’s not much point enabling Find My iPad if a thief can simply turn the feature off. To prevent this, go to ‘Settings’, ‘General Settings’, then ‘Restrictions’. Select ‘Enable Restrictions’, at which point you will be prompted for a four digit PIN that will be different from your iPad’s main passcode and used only for your restrictions settings. Select ‘Location Services’, then ‘Find My iPad’ and ensure this setting is turned on. Also turn off the ‘Status Bar Indicator’ to hide the location tracking from thieves.

Last, but by no means least, return to ‘Location Services’ and select ‘Don’t Allow Changes’.

Turn on Anti-Tamper Self Destruct Mode

While we’re talking about wiping your iPad, let’s talk about totally wiping it in case of theft. In other words, the anti-tamper self destruct AKA remote wipe. While you still have your iPad in your possession, set up Find My iPhone. If you turn on the self destruct setting and someone subsequently repeatedly enters the wrong passcode on your iPad all data stored on it will automatically be deleted.

If you erase then find your iOS device, you can restore the information on the device using iCloud Backup (if backup was turned on before you erased it).


Install software updates regularly

As with computers, users not keeping software up-to-date is a major security issue. Flaws in software are constantly being found. When patches to fix these flaws are released it is important to download them as soon as possible or your device will be vulnerable, exposed by unpatched flaws that cybercriminals will be aware of.

Don’t use free WiFi

Accessing free public WiFi could end up costing you in all kinds of ways and, as tempting as it can be to jump on a free public WiFi network when you’re out and about, steering clear of them could be for the best – for security reasons, at least.

Public WiFi (especially those that are not password protected) generally won’t have the same security measures in place that your own private network would. Therefore, it gives cybercriminals an opportunity to intercept your data and steal your passwords.

To ensure your data is kept safe only stick to network that you trust and know are secure. In order to ensure you don’t inadvertently join such a network, make sure ‘Ask to join networks’ is switched off.

Don’t jailbreak your ipad

iOS is designed to be secure from the moment you turn on your iPad. When you jailbreak the device, you can kiss this security goodbye. In Apple’s own words: "Jailbreaking your device eliminates security layers designed to protect your personal information and your iOS device. With this security removed from your iOS device, hackers may steal your personal information, damage your device, attack your network, or introduce malware, spyware or viruses." iPads are too expensive to mess about with. Just don’t do it.


Restrict the capabilities of the iPad

You can enable Restrictions, also known as parental controls. Restrictions stop you from using specific features and applications. As well as a tool to restrict children’s access to explicit content, this feature can be used to restrict a user’s access to all manner of features on your iPad, such as web browsing. It can also be used to prevent applications from being downloaded. This function is passcoded so, as the owner and administrator of the device, you can simply use it as an extra layer of security.

Use a Virtual Private Network

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) will give you the ability to use any Internet connection to access resources within your office network via your iPad.

Virtual Private Networks (VPN) are often used within organisations to allow you to communicate private information securely over a public network. You may need to configure VPN, for example, to access your work email on an iOS device. VPN works over both Wi-Fi and cellular data network connections. Rather than remote controlling a PC, a VPN is an encrypted tunnel from the iPad back to the office meaning you get the purest experience and can use Apps natively instead of driving a PC via a ‘screen scraper’.

Check the Apple website for the latest information on which VPN servers your iPad supports, and how to configure your device to use VPN.


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