Keeping an electronic device secure, be it a computer or a tablet PC, involves different measures from installing various security programs to practicing safe Internet surfing. With mobile devices like iPads and other tablet PCs, security measures are varied, some are based on internal settings and some require external applications to be installed. In this article, learn how to increase the security of an iPad, with the following security mechanisms.
Simple iPad Security Measures
Auto-lock your iPad
This is a no-brainer. Your iPad should auto-lock itself when not in use. This feature is handy as at times you can forget to lock the tablet. You can turn on the feature and also set a time limit within which the tablet will automatically lock. To enable auto-lock, go to Settings → General → Auto-Lock.
Set up a passcode
Just like a keypad lock or pin lock for phones, you can enable your iPad to be unlocked only when the correct passcode is entered at the lockscreen. This prevents unauthorized access, especially from nosy parkers or sneaks, who pretend to be checking out the device but actually want to go through your files. A passcode is also useful if the device is stolen or lost. You can access the passcode feature through the following path on your iPad: Settings → General → Passcode Lock. Here you can turn on the feature, set a passcode and increase the number of characters and difficulty of the passcode.
Sync data regularly
Why should you sync your iPad's data to a PC? Firstly, it always helps to create a backup of your data, be it media or text. Creating a regular and updated backup means even if you lose the iPad or the data is compromised in any manner, you can easily restore it. Another advantage in syncing, is that for storing sensitive information, a PC is a more secure location than a tablet PC. Data synced to your iCloud account is encrypted and safe against theft.
Always connect to secure and trusted Wi-Fi networks
Wi-Fi networks can be dangerous and useful at the same time. They are available everywhere, providing instant Internet access. But public unsecured networks or networks that spring out of anywhere, can be fraught with hidden dangers. So make sure your iPad connects to a network you know and trust, preferably secured. If you need network access urgently, avoid handling sensitive online transactions, like online purchasing or checking emails, on such networks.
No matter what security mechanisms you use, if you are a careless web user, your iPad will not remain secure for long. Be careful while you browse, such as avoiding untrusted sites without certificates or downloading a program without checking its actual use. Use sensitive data carefully to avoid being phished. Emails are a favorite entry point for viruses and malware, so check attachments and do not open mails from people you don't know. Access emails through secure connections by enabling SSL connections in your email server. You can do this by accessing Settings → Mail → Account → Advanced → Use SSL.
If the device is accessed by multiple users, then as an extra security measure, you can clear details of your browsing by deleting entries in history, cookies and cache. To do so, go to Settings → Safari , there are 3 options here: Clear History, Clear Cookies and Clear Cache. Select them one-by-one and clear them. If your iPad is being used by someone else, it also helps to turn off the autofill feature, so your passwords aren't automatically entered. To do so, tap Settings → Safari → Autofill. Bluetooth does not actually come under Internet usage but since it can be used to transfer data between devices, it is also a vulnerable entry point. Turn off the iPad's Bluetooth when not in use.
Advanced iPad Security Measures
Use a VPN
To send confidential emails or documents over a network, you can use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), set up between your iPad and the receiving/sending device, such as your corporate inbox. Data sent over a VPN is encrypted and secure, so even data transfer over a public network is made safe. You will need to set up the VPN on your iPad as well as on the computer with the secure data. Obtain the VPN settings and choose Settings → General → Network → VPN on your iPad, to set up the network.
Place access restrictions on certain programs
An extra step in surfing smart is restricting what sites can be opened or what programs can be installed on your iPad, especially if you are sharing the device with other users. Also known as parental controls, restrictions can be placed on browsing sites through Safari, viewing YouTube content, handling apps and even adding friends in the Game Center. To enable or disable restrictions on different programs, access Settings → General → Restrictions.
Do not jailbreak the iPad
Jailbreaking is a massive temptation, as a jailbroken iPad can download and run a lot of external applications and themes, which are not Apple-sanctioned. But keep in mind, that when you open something up, you are making it vulnerable to good and bad elements. The iPad has its own defense system in the form of a 256-bit AES encryption technique embedded in the hardware itself. This Data Protection feature cannot be disabled by the user. But jailbreaking has unpredictable effects and could compromise this layer, exposing your iPad to threats.
Auto-erase data with too many incorrect passcode attempts
If your iPad is lost or stolen, your data should be erased from the device, to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. You can set your iPad to delete its data automatically, if the passcode has been entered incorrectly 10 times. This self-deleting mechanism is especially effective, in case the iPad has been stolen and the thief repeatedly tries to enter a passcode. It can be set through the following path: Settings → General → Passcode Lock → Erase Data.
Enable the "Find my iPad" feature
This handy security feature of the iPad, literally allows you to easily find your phone wherever you have placed it. If you lose the iPad, use the "find my iPad" app on another iOS device or a PC to locate its position on a map. The program will also cause your iPad to emit a sound, so you can locate it nearby. But the amazing ability of this mechanism, is that you can use the program to remotely lockdown the device, by setting a passcode. So until the iPad is in your hands, it cannot be unlocked. You can even erase the data present on the iPad remotely, using the Remote Wipe feature. This prevents your personal and private information from ever falling into the wrong hands. Once you get your iPad back, you can restore its data using the backup created in your iCloud account. This feature must be enabled and configured on the iPad and an account set up using the iCloud. The "Find my iPad" app should be present on another iOS device, like an iPhone or another iPad or can be used on a Mac PC as a program.
Arm your iPad with effective apps
There's no denying the usefulness of apps but they can be vulnerable entry points for malware and viruses to attack the iPad. The Apple iOS handles apps in a unique yet secure way, effectively maintaining the device's security. Apps exist as independent entities, sandboxed and isolated. They cannot talk to each other or exchange data. They cannot access system files and resources. Apple carefully monitors and inspects third-party apps before approving them for iPad use. The iOS carries out runtime checks to ensure the app is working in the right manner. As a user, you can ensure the security of your iPad by downloading and using only Apple-sanctioned apps. There are a number of third-party security apps that can enhance your iPad's security levels such as Intego's VirusBarrier or Symantec VeriSign Identity Protection.
Be regular with OS updates
Recently a security glitch in the iPad 2 was discovered, wherein the tablet enclosed in an Apple Smart Cover, could be unlocked simply by opening the cover! Even a magnet could be used to break into an iPad, even with a passcode lock. Apple has completely resolved the issue with an OS update in the form of the iOS 5.0.1 patch. OS updates exist for such reasons, to solve any bugs and to enhance the functioning of the device. Any iPad security issues are resolved through such updates, by strengthening the defenses of the operating system and making it aware of the latest vulnerabilities. Update the OS of your iPad as patches come along, to keep it up-to-date.
Aside from technical security measures, you should be careful with the iPad physically, especially if you store sensitive information on it. Do not leave it lying around or pass it around a lot. The iPad is an "IT" tech gadget, whose appeal is universal from a sorority chick to a corporate bigwig. It is also a favorite and easy target for thieves, so make sure to secure it digitally and hang on to it physically!