Ricky Abercrombie
Ricky Abercrombie
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How to Completely Encrypt Your iPhone 2024
Ricky Abercrombie
Tuesday June 4 2024, 10:57 AM
How to Completely Encrypt Your iPhone 2024

In an era where digital privacy is paramount, encrypting your iPhone ensures that your personal data remains secure from unauthorized access. This comprehensive guide covers how to set up advanced data protection, contact key verification, obtain free S/MIME certificates to encrypt your email, and evaluate the most secure authentication methods: biometrics, PIN code, or alphanumeric PIN codes. Additionally, we will summarize ways to encrypt your web traffic to further enhance your privacy and explore how iCloud+ can add additional features to further protect your data.

 1. Setting Up Advanced Data Protection

Advanced Data Protection on your iPhone ensures that your data is encrypted and only accessible by you. Here’s how to enable it:

1.  Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA):

   - Go to Settings > Your Name > Sign In & Security.

   - Tap Turn On Two-Factor Authentication and follow the prompts until you get a prompt that lets you know that you have completed the process..

2.  Enable Advanced Data Protection:

   - Ensure your iPhone is running iOS 15.2 or later.

   - Go to Settings> Your Name > iCloud.

   - Scroll down and select Advanced Data Protection.

   - Follow the instructions to set up your recovery contacts and verify your identity. For added security never disclose your recovery contact to further ensure your privacy.

3.  Encrypt iCloud Data:

   - With Advanced Data Protection enabled, your iCloud data (such as backups, photos, notes, and more) will be encrypted end-to-end and only accessible only to you.

4.  Disable iCloud Access from the Web:

   - With Access iCloud from the web disabled, your iCloud data (such as backups, photos, notes, and more) will be not only encrypted end-to-end but only accessible from    

     devices that is signed into your iCloud Account

  2. Setting Up Contact Key Verification

Contact Key Verification allows you to verify that you are communicating with the intended person in iMessage. Here’s how to set it up:

1.  Ensure iMessage is Enabled:

   - Go to Settings > Messages and ensure iMessage is turned on.

2.   Enable Contact Key Verification:

   - This feature is being rolled out with iOS 16. To check if it’s available, go to Settings > Messages > Contact Key Verification.

   - Turn on Contact Key Verification.

3. Verify Contacts:

   - In a conversation, tap the contact’s name, scroll down, and select Verify Contact. Follow the instructions to verify the contact’s key.

 3. Obtaining Free S/MIME Certificates to Encrypt Your Email

S/MIME (Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) encrypts your emails to ensure privacy. With a s/mime certificate your apple email app will unlock a shiny new padlock button that turns blue and shift to lock when encryption is on and it is red when it's unlocked which means that your emails are not encrypted. If a recipient does not have your public key, they will get a blank email. If the recipient has your public key and you have theirs, all emails will be end to end encrypted and impossible to decrypt without both senders public keys.  Here’s how to obtain and set up a free S/MIME certificate:

1. Obtain a Free S/MIME Certificate:

   - Visit a provider like COMODO or Actalis. *Actalis, Highly Recommended as its guaranteed protections under EU data privacy laws & they are free.

   - Follow the instructions to request a free S/MIME certificate. *IMPORTANT: write down the certificate password because you will need it to install the certificate on your iPhone.


2. Install the Certificate on Your iPhone:

   - Download the certificate file to your computer. Then go to settings. if you do not see a prompt to install Certificate into your profile, use the search bar to search for:

     "PROFILES" inside your settings menu.

   - IN PROFILES you'll see your new s/mime certificate. click on it and install it. You will need to enter your phone's PIN code & after that it will ask for that certificate password.

   - After entering the certificate password, the certificate will be added to your iPhone's profile and it will be added to your iCloud Keychain.

3. Configure S/MIME in Mail:

   - Go to Settings > Mail > Accounts.

   - Select your email account and tap Account > Advanced.

   - Enable S/MIME and configure it to Encrypt by Default. Save settings




  4. Authentication Methods: Biometrics vs. PIN Codes

To secure your iPhone, you need a robust authentication method. Here’s a comparison of biometrics, PIN codes, and alphanumeric PIN codes:

- Biometrics (Face ID/Touch ID):

  - Pros: Convenient, quick access.

  - Cons: Can be less secure if a high-quality replica of your fingerprint/face is used TO UNLOCK YOUR PHONE.

- Numeric PIN Codes:

  - Pros: Simple to use.

  - Cons: Less secure if a short code (4-6 digits) is used, vulnerable to shoulder surfing.

- Alphanumeric PIN Codes:

  - Pros: Most secure due to complexity and length.

  - Cons: Can be cumbersome to enter regularly.

Recommendation: Use an alphanumeric PIN code for maximum security. Combine it with Face ID or Touch ID for convenience without compromising on security. If you are ever in a situation where your device is to be confiscated, you may want to consider powering off the device to disable biometrics before surrendering your device. *IN THE U.S., THIS IS A 4TH & 5TH AMENDMENT PROTECTED ACTIVITY.  ALL OTHER COUNTRIES PLEASE REFER TO YOUR RESPECTIVE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS REGARDING SEARCHES, SEIZURES & OR ALLOWING YOUR DATA TO BE USED AGAINST YOU. SEEK COUNSEL IF APPLICABLE...

   5. Leveraging iCloud+ for Additional Data Protection

iCloud+ is a paid feature from Apple & it offers additional device privacy and security features that can further protect your data, versus those with normal iCloud Accounts. With packages starting at $0.99 per month, they have very affordable plans to help increase your privacy as well as provide you and 5 family members 50GB of iCloud Storage. Here’s a look at what iCloud+ can do for you:

1. Private Relay:

   - Function: Private Relay encrypts your internet traffic and routes it through two separate internet relays while masking your IP address and precise location.

   - Setup: IF YOU ARE A SUBSCRIBER: Go to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud > Scroll to Private Relay and turn it on.

     **During setup, you can specify if your location is logged by timezone, generalized location or precise location. As for me, I use Generalized Location and I am pinged at the

     nearest largest city.

2. Hide My Email:

   - Function: Hide My Email allows you to create unique, random email addresses that forward to your personal inbox, protecting your actual email address from being sold to


   - Setup: Go to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud > Hide My Email and create new addresses as needed.

3. HomeKit Secure Video:

   - Function: HomeKit Secure Video encrypts your security camera footage and stores it securely in iCloud, accessible only to you.

   - Setup: Ensure you have a compatible HomeKit camera and iCloud+ subscription. Go to Home app > Camera Settings and enable HomeKit Secure Video.

4. Custom Email Domain:

   - Function: Use your own domain for iCloud Mail while benefiting from iCloud’s privacy features.

   - Setup: Go to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud > Custom Email Domain and follow the instructions to set up your domain.

*in all actuality, I believe $0.99 is a great investment in ensuring online privacy.

   6. Summary: Enhancing Privacy by Encrypting Web Traffic

To further secure your digital privacy, encrypting your web traffic is also essential. With a VPN, your web traffic goes through a secure tunnel & no one knows who you are, where you are, what are you doing & or where you been. In addition, You can bypass geofences and access content that is restricted in certain countries. VPN technology has been around for some time and a VPN alone does not equate to device encryption. They are helpful to increase your privacy when used with the aforementioned points above. Here are a few recommendations:

1. Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network):

   - A VPN encrypts your internet connection, hiding your online activities from prying eyes. Services like AdGuard, NordVPN, ExpressVPN, or CyberGhost are reliable choices. AdGuard is my personal favorite VPN because they give you a private DNS server to route your internet traffic through a private tunnel. In addition, the AdGuard suite also block trackers, advertisers, ads and so much more. Our friends at Stack Social provide affordable multi year subscription codes and lifetime subscription plans. Much cheaper than subscribing through the App Store.

2. Enable HTTPS:

   - Always ensure you are accessing websites over HTTPS, which encrypts data between your browser and the website. Modern browsers typically handle this automatically.

3. Use Encrypted Messaging Apps:

   - Apps like Signal and WhatsApp use end-to-end encryption for all communications, ensuring privacy.

By following these steps, you can comprehensively encrypt your iPhone and ensure your personal data remains secure. From securing your iCloud data to encrypting your emails and choosing the most secure authentication methods, you are well on your way to maintaining digital privacy in today’s interconnected world.

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