How To Add a Secure Passcode to Your iPhone

Are you one of those iPhone (s aapl) owners that just uses the swipe and unlock feature on your handset? Your phone isn’t really “locked” by definition — unless you have a passcode enabled, anyone with a pulse and a finger could get at your phone data. A nose will actually work too, even though it’s difficult — as an iPhone carrying runner who wears gloves in winter, I sadly have experience in this matter. Now you could add a 4-digit passcode to help offset data theft if your phone walks away. Simply hit Settings, General, and Passcode Lock on your iPhone to set it up. That’s a start down the safety path, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could use a stronger, alphanumeric password? It turns out that you can.

UNEASYsilence points out the method that enterprise iPhone users have long since known — use the downloadable iPhone Configuration Utility, freely available for Windows or Mac on Apple’s website. The software is geared towards iPhone deployments in the business world, so there’s far more functionality than simply adding a secure passcode. But until Apple adds this functionality to the native iPhone OS platform — and I think they should — this is one way to make your handset more secure.

Once you’ve downloaded the utility,  just connect your iPhone with a USB cable and then run the iPhone Configuration Utility. You’ll need to create a configuration profile by name and identifier like I did here.

Next, simply click on the Passcode setting in the utility to bring up the passcode configuration screen. You see that I went hog-wild in this example with multiple attributes, but all you need to click is the “Require alphanumeric value” box for a minimal boost in data security. Adding in other attributes like I have will beef things up even more.

After you modify the Passcode settings, you just need to install the configuration profile to your already connected iPhone. Find your phone’s name on the left side of the utility, click it and tap the Install button.

The profile is sent to your iPhone over USB and to complete the installation, you just follow the prompts on your device. Once installed, you can disconnect your iPhone and you’re good to go with better protection of your handset data. And if you ever want to revert back to the basic passcode — or none at all — simply connect your iPhone, run the utility and choose to Remove the configuration profile from your device. After the profile is removed, just hit Settings, General and Passcode Lock, then enter that old passcode one last time and you can disable the lock for good.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Apple Thinks Enterprise is Ready For the iPhone