How to Secure Your Data from Personal Data Leaks on iOS and MacOS Devices

During the first six months of last year, more than 4.1 billion records were exposed through data leaks. The causes range from intentional theft to simple carelessness, but the financial and reputational damage continues to take its toll for months after a breach is detected.

Collectively, the average user spends the majority of their waking life in the digital world working, playing, shopping, and communicating. Between remote work and a dependence on apps to handle everything from personal communications to account and lifestyle management, attack surfaces and opportunities for exploitation have proliferated to an exponential degree.

It seems like we’re under attack from inside and outside of our networks, when we aren’t falling victim to our own complacency.

How is all of this data escaping, and what can you do to secure your MacOS or iOS device?

Leak or Breach? How Data Escapes Your Devices

The most generic and technical definition of a data leak is: any activity that causes the release or exposure of sensitive information to an unauthorized person or unsecured environment.

This is an activity known as exfiltration, and it can be the result of:

  • Hacking exploits

  • Internal theft or release

  • Human error

  • Security flaws or design vulnerabilities

Most people associate data leaks with identity theft, but the type of data revealed and reasons for accessing or releasing it vary. They include:

  • Financial data, such as account and credit card numbers, invoices, tax details, and financial records

  • Health information compiled by health care providers. This includes past or current medical and mental health diagnosis and treatments.

  • Intellectual properties, including patents, research, plans, and trade secrets

  • Personally Identifiable Information (PII) that can be used to identify individuals and their location

  • Sensitive information, like classified documents, client lists, military protocols, and research

The average breach costs victims $3.5 million dollars in tangible and intangible costs relating to direct financial losses and the cost of mitigation. Most companies will never be able to recover from the impact.

How bad is the problem? The following numbers may shock you.

Data Breach Statistics

In February of 2020 alone, there were 105 separate security incidents that resulted in exposure of more than six million records. That makes 2020 the second leakiest in history, and we aren’t even halfway through the year.

It’s estimated that cyber crime will cost more that $6 trillion dollars globally by the end of next year. Despite an overall drop in purely financial crimes like ransomware attacks, a new one is unleashed every 11 seconds.

As if that isn’t scary enough, it’s predicted that within the next year or two, a major wireless network is overdue for an attack that will expose the data of millions of customers and possibly lead to the network becoming disabled nation-wide.

Think you’re safer with an iOS-powered device? Think again.

However, it isn’t all doom and gloom. Government regulations are putting measures in place that force companies into industry standards for compliance and data protection. and businesses are investing in additional security measures in record amounts.

What can you do to protect your own devices and networks? Read on to learn more.

Secure Your iOS or MacOS Devices

Historically, Apple is the maker of popular tech products. They’re known for their innovation, usability, and security.

However, security is only good if you know how to use it correctly and consistently. Research by Canadian cybersecurity expert Ludovic Rembert  showed that some widely downloaded iOS apps contain malware and malicious third party scripts. Ludovic recommends using a VPN to add an additional layer of security. Their research shows that disabling 3rd party apps to authenticate with your Google account is vital for risk mitigation.

Here are some additional tips for securing your MacOS and iOS devices.

Control Access to Devices and Accounts

The easiest way for hackers to get into your database is to leave it wide open. By using standard measures, many of which are built right into your iPhone or other Apple device, you’ll prevent unauthorized access to your in-phone storage and data like contact lists, messages, and other private information.

The standard Mac security protocols are a model that anyone using a computer should follow:

  1. Create a non-admin account for everyday activity. This can be done when setting up your OS X device or at any time after. When the setup assistant asks you for details to setup your initial admin account, set up a second user account that will lack admin privileges and use it unless you need to perform admin duties that require broad permissions.
  2. Uninstall standalone Flash
  3. Disable automated logins under OS X>System Preferences>Users and Groups>Login Options>. Toggle to disable “Automated Login”
  4. Install a two-way firewall to protect incoming and outgoing data
  5. Use a password manager to create and store long, complicated passwords and/or employ 2-factor authentication

Additional tip: If you’re using an accounting software for tracking and organizing your finances make sure it’s secure and reliable. WaveApps accounting software is a good solution that values your privacy and security as it is its top priority.

Use Built-In OS X and iOS Security

Apple developers are known for their advanced security standards. But, they’re only good if you enable them on your devices.

For example, the Keychain tool is a password manager that comes bundled with both Mac and iOS devices.

You can also use iCloud for secure virtual storage that includes end-to-end military-grade encryption and other security features for iOS 12 and later. Secure tokens protect built-in Apple apps.

Uninstall rather than merely disabling any apps that are unsupported or out of date. You should also revoke permissions from apps that require access beyond what’s necessary for them to function. For example, your video calling app may need access to your phone and mic for obvious reasons, but they don’t need to know your passwords, location, or the personal info of your contacts.

Activating the Location Reminder Alert in iPhone will allow you to view a map of what information each app is collecting/tracking/storing and an explanation of why that level of data access is necessary. You can use this information to help you decide which you really need and what apps you can send to the trash.

Keep Your Operating System and Apps Up-to-Date

Elect to automatically update any operating systems, firmware, apps, and features. If your device isn’t set to auto-update all software and accessories, make sure to check and scan manually for updates. Most current antivirus and anti-malware apps will update their databases each time a scan is performed. Make sure to configure round the clock monitoring if that option is available through software or your hosting service.

Back it Up

It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to perform regular system backups. They may not stop your database from being infiltrated, but having your data backed up will reduce losses and allow you to restore important files and get back up and running faster after a breach.

Final Thoughts

Protecting data integrity is essential for every individual and business. In addition to installing a VPN, you can protect your Apple devices by following the simple security best practices outlined above.