Apple’s iTunes and iCloud applications are both extremely important. Both allow you the ability to conduct backups and do file transfers. Both have some challenges and some slightly different capabilities however. Today I am going to cover some iTunes security features that you should be using.
iTunes Security Uses
iTunes is Apple’s media management application for Mac and Windows computers. In addition to allowing you to manage songs and videos, iTunes also allows you to manage your mobile devices. If you have a Mac, iTunes is already installed. Windows users will have to download it from https://www.apple.com/itunes/download/. Even if you use iTunes for no other purpose, you should have it because of the added management functions it has for iOS devices.
One of the most important functions of iTunes is that it allows you to create comprehensive backups of your iOS devices. Though Apple encourages everyone to use iCloud, there are several very important reasons that you may prefer to use the old-school, hard-wired connection to iTunes instead. There are good reasons to do local backups – whether in addition to, or as a replacement for cloud backups. First, no one holds keys for the backup on your computer except you. If you use a good strong password and full-disk encryption, the backup will likely never be recovered by anyone but you. On the other hand, iCloud backups are accessible by Apple. Not only does this mean they are legally accessible, it also means that these backups are vulnerable should Apple ever suffer a major data breach.
To backup to iTunes, connect the device to your computer via your USB charging cable. iTunes should open automatically. If this is the first time you have connected the device to the computer a prompt will appear on your phone’s screen asking if you wish to trust the computer. If you do, click “Trust”. In the upper left-hand side of the iTunes interface, click the iPhone icon. This will open settings specific to the device. Scroll down to Backups. You can choose to automatically backup to iCloud or iTunes; deselect iCloud and select iTunes. You also have the option to check the “Encrypt iPhone/iPad/iPod Backup” box. I strongly recommend you encrypt your backup with a good password; this is possibly the most important iTunes security setting you can enable! An encrypted backup is not only more secure, it also stores some information that non-encrypted and iCloud backups do not, including your saved passwords, Wi-Fi networks, and Health data.
Ensure that you have enough disk space for a backup. If you have a 64 or 128 GB iOS device, a backup can consume a significant portion of your computer’s storage. Also ensure that you have time to let the backup complete. If you have a large amount of data stored on your phone this may take several minutes and cannot be interrupted. When you are ready to back up the device click “Back Up Now”. A progress bar at the top of the iTunes interface will appear. When the backup has finished you may wish to verify the backup was completed successfully. To do so, go to the menu bar and click iTunes//Preferences (Mac) or to iTunes menu bar and click Edit//Preferences (Windows). In the dialogue that opens click the “Devices” tab. This will display a list of each backup by device and date/time. If a padlock icon appears beside the listing, the backup is encrypted.
If you lose, destroy, or are otherwise denied access to your phone, a full backup can be incredibly helpful. Likewise, if you purchase an iPad or iPod Touch and would like its settings and content to mirror those of your iPhone, you can restore it from a backup. Should you ever have occasion to restore a new phone from an iTunes backup, the process is painless. Connect your device to your computer. When iTunes opens you will be asked if you would like to restore the device from an iTunes backup. Before you can restore from a backup you will be required to enter the backup password. I recommend you use a very strong password and store it in your computer’s password manager. The length of time necessary to restore a new device from a backup will vary depending on the amount of information it holds.
iTUNES: FILE TRANSFERS
Another major iTunes security use is its ability to conduct file transfers between your iOS devices and computer. There are some files that you may wish to have on your phone, but do not want to transmit via email, cloud storage, or other electronic means. Some examples include password manager databases, private encryption keys, or VPN configuration files. Fortunately with iTunes these files can be easily and securely transferred via a hardwired connection.
Connect your device to your computer via it’s USB charging cable. When iTunes opens click the phone icon in the upper left corner of iTunes. Next, select “Apps” from the menu in the left menu bar and scroll to the bottom of the page to the section called “File Sharing”. There are two boxes in this section. One displays the apps that can utilize file sharing and the other displays shareable files that are on your device in the selected app. If you wish to import a file from your phone, click the desired app, select the file (or files), and click “Save To…”. To export files to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, select the appropriate app and click “Add…”.