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Back That Data Up! How to Protect Your iPhone Against Data Theft from Gazelle

In 2013, smartphone theft continued to rise, including 2,400 in San Francisco alone (a 23% increase from the year before). Since we now use our phones for everything from buying groceries to tracking our checking account, Gazelle, the nation’s leading trading site for used electronics, has put together some tips on how to protect your iPhone data.

Keep Your iPhone Up-to-date
Apple has added hardware-based disk encryption to iOS 4 and above. This technology allows you to instantly purge all of the personal data on your iPhone. This feature can be activated locally by enabling the data erase feature, or remotely using Apple’s Find My iPhone service. iPhone users can upgrade their iPhones for free by following these easy steps:

1. Wireless Update (iOS 5 and above):
2. Settings > General > Software Update
3. Update with iTunes:

  • Plug in your iPhone to your computer’s USB port.
  • Sync your iPhone with iTunes.
  • Create a backup of your current data (right-click your phone on the left side of the screen, then select the backup option).
  • Click “Check for Update” in the Summary pane.

Lock Your iPhone with a Complex Passcode 
Your lock screen passcode forms the first and most basic defense against iPhone data theft and unauthorized access to your applications. To adjust your passcode security settings, navigate through the Settings > General > Passcode Lock menus and select “Turn Passcode On”. 

Enable Encrypted iPhone Backups 
Once you secure your device with a strong passcode, regularly back up your personal data through iTunes. When you activate data encryption, iTunes copies your iPhone files in a way that makes all the iPhone data unreadable by users without your password. Here’s how:

1. Launch iTunes on your computer and sync your iPhone using the USB cable.
2. Select your iPhone from the left iTunes pane, under the Devices drop down menu.
3. From the Summary tab, select Encrypt iPhone Backup.
4. When you first enable data encryption, iTunes will prompt you to enter a password. Choose a phrase of suitable strength, and then select Set Password. You’ll need this password whenever you want to restore your iPhone with an encrypted backup.
5. Select Sync to finish creating the copy of your iPhone data. 

iPhone Data Security: Don’t Rely on Just Your Password
In February 2011, Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology publicized an iPhone hack that bypassed the screen lock, accessed the device’s password keychain, and retrieved sensitive data, including login and password information for Gmail and Exchange mail accounts, Wi-Fi networks and numerous other apps. The entire process required six minutes to complete. Although Fraunhofer Institute’s method is not public knowledge, a number of other well-documented and freely available programs—like jail-breaking software—circumvent the iPhone lock screen. For an additional layer of security beyond passwords and encrypted backups, associate your iPhone with Apple’s Find My iPhone service.

Get to Know The Cloud
With iCloud replacing MobileMe last year, backing up your data is simpler than ever before. All iOS devices and Macs have iCloud built right into the device. iCloud requires you to have a mobile device running iOS 5 or greater, a Mac running OS X Lion 10.72, or a Windows PC running Windows 7 or Vista SP2. iCloud can perform all the following:

1. Automatic backup of files and apps
2. Access your Calendar, Contacts, iTunes music, photos
3. Sync data between devices
4. Find my iPhone/iPad security feature (see below)

Find Your Lost or Stolen iPhone
Once the Find My iPhone feature has been activated on your Apple computer or other iDevice, you can track the location from any computer by logging in with your Apple ID at www.icloud.com. Alternatively, you can access your data from any other iOS device using the free Find My iPhone app. 

So what if your stolen iPhone returns, only it is ruined? Rather than scrap your scrambled smartphone, check out Gazelle.Gazelle is a website that buys used electronics for cash, even damaged ones! More than 600,000 consumers have usedGazelle to sell nearly one million gadgets. Gazelle offers trade ins for everything from smartphones to laptops to e-readers… the list goes on. Gazelle can’t return your smartphone to its former glory, but they can give another life to your used iPhone by refurbishing it for another buyer, keeping it out of the landfill and giving you money in return. Better for you, better for the environment, better for everyone!