The Apple encryption debacle is shaking things up – here’s how to keep your phone data protected

The gauntlet has been thrown down and two of the USA’s biggest institutions are currently two bucks locking horns. Apple is currently fending of requests from the FBI that would endanger the security of every piece of phone data held on any iPhone worldwide.

Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, penned a letter on February 16th explaining the situation. In short, as a result of the horrific terror attacks in San Bernardino last December, the FBI are requesting Apple to develop a backdoor encryption key to access the files of any iPhone held by someone the government deems dangerous.

In Cook’s words: “In today’s digital world, the “key” to an encrypted system is a piece of information that unlocks the data, and it is only as secure as the protections around it. Once the information is known, or a way to bypass the code is revealed, the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge.”

“The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.”

This is an incredibly frightening concept. Your phone holds everything from the addresses of your friends to your passport details and even raw health data. With no means of protecting yourself, any hacker worth their salt could access and spread this information at the click of a button.

With this in mind, here are four things you can do to keep your phone data safe and protected.

1. Turn your lock screen’s self-destruct mode on

The lock-screen of your phone is the vault door to your phone data. If you do get your phone swiped, a hacker can use a brute-force encryption breaker to get in – it’s just a matter of time. That is unless you set a feature, which all phones have, which wipes all your phone data after 10 incorrect password entries.

2. Keep yourself disconnected

It’s amazing how accessible your information is when you’re connected to public wifi and bluetooth and location services. We don’t want to instil paranoia but if you feel risk, disconnect yourself.

3. Download apps cautiously 

It doesn’t take a mastermind to trick internet users into clicking the wrong thing. Since your Apple Store account features your credit card information, there is a risk by downloading dodgy apps for hackers to get your precious information. Read the fine-print of every app you download to make sure they’re legit.

4. Treat it like a credit card

If you have your phone stolen or misplace it, treat it like a credit card. Call your service provider and brick your phone as soon as possible or use a ‘Find My Phone’ feature to locate it.