When it comes to setting up your iPhone for additional privacy, we highly recommend upgrading to iOS 15 or higher when available. In case you are using an older iPhone or do not wish to upgrade to iOS 15 at this time, there still some easy steps you can take to increase your device’s online privacy.
Navigate to the phone > Settings, scroll down and tap on > Privacy. Here you can:
> Check if you have Location Services turned on
You can turn this on or off. You may not wish to turn it off completely, however. Especially if you are using location-specific apps containing a GPS map or if you wish your camera app to continue logging the geolocation of your photos.
> Review your tracking permissions
Tracking shows you the apps that insist on tracking your behaviour. Use the toggle to deny them the ability to ask you if you want to be tracked. This should turn off tracking for all apps on your iPhone.
> Change you app permissions
Also in Privacy, you can check which apps have permission to access your contacts, calendars photos, Bluetooth, files, camera, microphone and other sensors on your iPhone. Tap on each one to view a list of apps that have these permissions. If you don’t trust a particular app with your personal data, revoke its permissions from here.
Bonus Tip: Updating to iOS 15 gives you more advanced privacy settings to play with. These include:
> Hide IP address
Find this one under Settings -> Safari. Toggle the on/off switch for Trackers and Websites. This will hide your IP address and prevent it from being targeted by ads as you browse.
> App Privacy Report
Turn this on by tapping Record App Activity (found in your Privacy settings) and toggling the option to on. This informs you about which of your iPhone’s sensors have been used by which apps at any point during the last seven days. This includes info about the domains your apps have been connecting to, as well as how many times each app has accessed your photos, camera, microphone or contacts.
> iCloud Private Relay
This feature is available to Apple iCloud+ subscribers only. It functions similarly to a VPN service by rerouting your web traffic through multiple servers in order to keep your location private. By mindful, however, that this isn’t a substitute for an actual VPN service, as it only works in Safari rather than across your entire device. Find it under Settings, tap on your name at the top of the screen, then go to iCloud and then Private Relay.
> Hide My Email
This is another neat privacy feature included in the paid iCloud+ subscription. It generates random email addresses that you can use to sign up to websites that you don’t trust with your actual email address.
Many apps constantly send trackers to third parties without notifying you. Trackers are collecting your private data and tagging you for retargeting by future ads. With so many apps on the market these days, it is almost impossible to know which ones send trackers and which ones actually respect your privacy. The best way to get rid of trackers once and for all is to update to iOS 14+. This will take care of any app tracking issues.
However, hidden trackers can still be tucked away in some emails you receive. They most often come in the form of pixels embedded into the body, header or footer of emails which return information about you to the original sender of the email. Apple’s new Mail Privacy Protection prevents spammers and newsletter senders from seeing your IP address when you open the message. Mail Privacy Protection isn’t activated by default. To switch it on, go to Settings, then Mail, Privacy Protection and turn on the option for Protect Mail Activity.
Cookies are bits of data sent to your device by websites you visit. They are stored in your web browser and collect personal data while keeping track of your browsing activity. You can delete cookies or even block them from your browser app’s settings, but in order to get rid all cookies once and for all it is recommended that you install a privacy-focused browser like Xayn. You can also opt for browser extensions.
There are free Ad Blocker browser extensions offered by most browser apps but they aren’t as effective as these third-party alternatives, which are stand-alone apps:
One of the first (and still one of the best) ad blockers for iPhone.
Very popular but not that good at blocking trackers.
Effectively blocks ads and trackers in Safari and apps that use Safari to display web pages.
A highly customisable and effective ad blocker.