The iPad provides a powerful and convenient way to stay connected while on the go. However, it also presents significant security issues, especially if you’re using your iPad for work. Confidential emails, auto-fill login details, and work files can all be compromised if your iPad is lost or stolen. Losing your iPad can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be catastrophic. All iPads have powerful security features built-in for your protection, but you need to enable them.
Some things you can do to secure your iPad:
- Set a Passcode
- Data Protection
- Third-Party Apps
- Find My iPhone (aka Find My iPad)
- Lost Mode
- Remote Erase
- Activation Lock
- More Tips for Securing Your iPad
- Virtual Data Rooms
A passcode should be the minimum requirement for all your mobile devices.
Set a passcode on your iPad
Settings → General → Passcode Lock → Turn Passcode On → Enter a 4-digit PIN By default, your passcode will be a four-digit PIN. You can specify a longer, alphanumeric passcode by going back into Settings → General → Passcode Lock → Turn Simple Passcode Off → Enter a New Password Longer & more complex passcodes are harder to crack & are therefore recommended for enterprise use. While you’re there, you should also set how often you want to be prompted for your passcode, under Require Passcode, and turn Erase Data on, to prevent numerous password attempts.
Data Protection provides an additional layer of security.
With iOS 4.0 Apple introduced Data Protection, which enhances the iPad’s built-in hardware encryption by protecting the hardware encryption keys with your passcode. This provides an additional layer of protection for your email attachments, as well as data stored in third-party applications.
What is Data Encryption?
Data encryption changes electronic information into an unreadable state. To read an encrypted file, you must have access to the secret key or password that enables you to decrypt it. Without this, files may open like this:
Apple’s Data Protection encrypts selected data using a key derived from your passcode, meaning that without knowing your passcode, the data truly is inaccessible to all but serious cryptographic attacks. Even if somebody was to jailbreak your device and bypass your passcode, information protected by Data Protection would remain encrypted, since your passcode—the important piece of the decryption key—is not known.
Limitations of Data Protection
Be aware that Data Protection only secures data in apps specifically designed to use the Data Protection API. In terms of built-in applications, this only includes Mail.
Previously, third-party apps which didn’t use the Data Protection API (which was most) were only protected by the iPad’s basic encryption. If you’re still using an old version of iOS, this may still be an issue. The good news is that with iOS 7, all third-party apps downloaded from the App Store now come with Data Protection enabled. This means all the data stored in these apps is protected and encrypted with the user’s passcode, until the device is unlocked.
Use Find My iPhone (Find my iPad) to track your missing iPad.
Find My iPhone is a feature that tracks where your lost or stolen device is, and lets you perform certain functions remotely, like locking the device or wiping all data. Though it’s often referred to as Find My iPhone, this security feature applies to all iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod).
Remotely track your iPad.
Hunt down your iPad with Find My iPhone
Set up Find My iPhone
Settings → iCloud → Enter your Apple ID → Turn on Find My iPad → Confirm? (Press Allow) Now that Find My iPhone it set up, you can use Lost Mode, Remote Wipe & Activation Lock (see below).
Lock down your iPad with Lost Mode.
Lost Mode lets you lock your iPad with a passcode, display a custom message on the screen, and keep track of its location – essentially making it unusable for the average thief. Be aware that Lost Mode only kicks-in if and when the iPad connects to the Internet.
Put your iPad into ‘Lost Mode’
Sign in to iCloud using another device → Click ‘Find My iPhone’ → Click ‘All Devices’ → Select the device that is lost → Click ‘Lost Mode’ or ‘Lock’
If your iPad already has a passcode (which it should by now), that passcode is used to lock the device. You’ll be asked to enter a phone number where you can be reached, which will appear on the device’s locked screen. You can also enter a message indicating that the device is lost and how to contact you.
Clear all information from your iPad with Remote Erase.
A more extreme alternative to Lost Mode is Remote Erase, which erases all data from your iPad if & when it connects to the Internet. If Remote Erase is performed, the device is effectively reset to factory defaults from afar. This function cannot be undone, and will prevent you from being able to locate your device. Therefore, it should only be considered as a last resort when you’re absolutely certain you won’t get the iPad back.
Remote Erase your iPad
Sign in to iCloud on another device → Click ‘Find My iPhone’ → Click ‘All Devices’ → Select the device you want to Erase → Click ‘Erase Device’ This is the point of no return. Once you do this the device will be wiped completely. Enter your Apple ID password → Enter a phone no. & message The number and message will be displayed on the screen after the device is erased (also know as “Activation Lock” outlined below).
Activation Lock protects your iPad, even without Internet connection.
Lost Mode & Remote Erase are good security features, but both come with limitations; they only take effect once the device connects to the Internet. How many hours can be spent trawling through your confidential files before that happens? Activation Lock is a new feature that was introduced with iOS 7. It starts working the moment you turn on Find My iPhone & protects your iPad even if there is no Internet connection. Activation Lock prevents someone from disabling Find My iPhone without knowing both your Apple ID and password. They also can’t erase data on the device, or restore / reactivate it. All that’s displayed is a phone number and custom message about contacting you.
To use Activation Lock
Follow ‘Lost Mode’ instructions (above) → Set & confirm a passcode → Enter a phone no. & message A message will display on the screen (“I will offer a reward” or “We have you surrounded” or “Please give it back”)
Put your iPad in ‘Lost Mode’ with Find My iPhone
These details will be displayed on a locked screen, and the iPad won’t work until the passcode you have set is entered. In addition, if you Remote Erase the device, Activation Lock still prevents the device from starting anew without your passcode.
Additional Tips for Securing Your iPad
Keep your iPad current with regular iOS updates.
Apple regularly updates the iOS operating system to protect against the latest vulnerabilities. To make sure your operating system is current, and to make full use of all the security features available, connect your iPad regularly to a computer running iTunes to install the latest update.
Download the Find My iPhone app onto other iOS devices.
By doing this, you’ll be ready to act immediately if your iPad is lost or stolen. You can activate Lost Mode and Activation Lock in seconds without needing to find a computer.
Change your passwords, ALL your passwords.
If you do lose your iPad, immediately change your password for any services that you connect to from it, such as Dropbox or Google Drive.
Use a VPN to secure your iPad’s connection.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) secures your iPad’s Internet connection to ensure that all data you’re sending and receiving is encrypted and secured from prying eyes. It’s particularly important if you’re using public WiFi hotspots.
To Configure a VPN
A VPN is particularly important if you’re using public WiFi hotspots, or accessing confidential information online. You should use a VPN, for example, to access work emails on your iPad. VPNs work over both WiFi and cellular data network connections. Settings → General → VPN → Add VPN Configuration Ask your IT manager or network administrator which settings to use. In most cases, if you’ve set up a VPN on your computer, you can use the same VPN settings for your iPad. Turn VPN on / off Once you’ve created a VPN configuration, the option to turn VPN on or off appears in the main Settings screen. When you’re connected to the Internet using a VPN, the VPN icon appears in the status bar.
Need more security? Use a Virtual Data Room.
If you want to access work files on your iPad, another way to keep them secure is to use a virtual data room (VDR). A VDR is a web application that lets you store and exchange confidential documents online. It requires a separate login and password, keeping confidential documents segregated in the event that your iPad is lost or stolen.
Why use a Virtual Data Room?
Virtual data rooms are built for enterprise use. They offer controlled access to confidential documents beyond the corporate firewall, without compromising security.
Control everything, miss nothing
A good VDR provider should provide security at the physical, network, application and document level. At Firmex, user permissions, folder-level security, and individual document protection help control how information is shared with others and what they can do with it. Features like dynamic watermarks, disabled save and print options, and the ability to remotely revoke documents, put you in complete control. Take a closer look at Firmex
A reputable virtual data room provider should have industry-recognized security reports to support their offering, such as SSAE 16 and CSAE3416. These reports demonstrate that they adhere to strict security standards, independently tested by external security experts.