Your iPhone’s sleek operating system, iOS, makes the incredible computing power hidden in the device easy and intuitive to use, but any system can be vulnerable to external attacks, so Apple introduced a sequence of characters that the user must type each time he or she unlocks the iPhone from the lock screen. This sequence is called passcode which prevents any unauthorized access to the device. To protect their iPhones users can choose between a simple passcode or complex passcode.
Simple Passcode or Complex Passcode
When your iPhone demands the passcode, the Enter Passcode screen indicates whether the device is using a simple passcode or a complex passcode. In fact, choosing between a simple passcode or a complex one can be a tough decision, because users need to thoroughly balance security against their needs to be able to get to work with their smartphone without flailing in frustration at the display.
Obviously, a complex passcode can provide much greater security than a simple passcode.
Simple passcode is that code that uses four digits and Apple sets it to use by default. To enter it, the phone displays four boxes and a numeric keypad when you turn on the device.
Complex passcode uses a variable number of characters. Besides usually it mixes letters, digits and special characters (symbols, comic-book expletives, etc.). It provides much greater security than a simple passcode, as it is longer, consists of numbers, letters and non-alphanumeric characters, and is thus harder to crack. Including all these characters greatly increases the strength of the passcode.
For a complex passcode, the Enter Passcode screen will display the text box and the classic QWERTY keyboard.
When deciding which type of passcode to use, you should keep these points in mind:
- A simple passcode may really protect your device with the auto-erase feature. Yes, given enough time, anyone can break a simple passcode by plodding through ten thousand possible trials until the attacker hits the jackpot. But the iPhone makes this harder by automatically disabling itself for increasing periods of time (one minute, five minutes, fifteen minutes, one hour and so on – any time when another wrong passcode is entered in sequence). Well, even if the culprit is determined and keeps plugging away, you can set the iPhone to erase all the data automatically after a handful of failed attempts. In this case, your data should be pretty safe (unless the attacker guesses the number you chose – so never add your birth year, which is a regrettably very popular passcode).
- On the other hand, with a complex passcode, you may not need the auto-erase function, as a complex passcode of a certain length (eight characters as a minimum) and if you include both alphanumeric and non-alphanumeric characters, you may consider this selection strong enough to avoid setting the auto-erase mode. Obviously, the decision will likely depend on what kind of information your smartphone contains.
- Note that a complex passcode can be even simpler than a simpler passcode. In fact, the Enter Passcode screen for a complex passcode gives no indication of the passcode’s length. So you may be able to bluff by setting a short letters-only elementary passcode (consisting of two letters, for example) rather than a mashup of the first half of an American Constitution. A short passcode like this is easy to remember and type. And if you set a low number for the Maximum Number of Failed Attempts, you will be safe.
- Note also that to reach the keyboard with numbers and some symbols you should tap the .?123 button. From this keyboard you can tap the # + = button to reach the remaining symbols, punctuation and currency characters. When you have finished entering the passcode, tap the Next button to display the Set Passcode (you will be prompted to re-enter your Passcode from the Passcode screen).
Warning: Your iPhone has Siri, your very own personal digital assistant built-in, ready to respond to the commands you speak. Siri is a very useful feature, but do not let Siri bypass the Lock screen. If you do, anyone who can speak intelligibly to your iPhone can take a wide range of actions on your behalf, even to place phone calls or send instant messages, and so on. Because of this potential for abuse, always turn Siri off if you apply a passcode for your device.
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