You MUST turn off this iPhone setting right now, according to security experts
This post has been updated since it was last published on January 23, 2021.
With so much of your life wrapped up in your iPhone, maintaining privacy and security is critical. There are several features on your phone that you’re better off without for the sake of your safety, but one stands out above the rest. According to security experts, this is the one iPhone setting you MUST turn off right now.
Without you knowing it, your iPhone could be tracking your every step—and then using the information it collects about your location to sell your data to advertisers. If that sounds daunting to you, there’s one setting you need to turn off: Location Services.
“I recommend turning off location services,” says Chris Hauk, privacy advocate at Pixel Privacy. “However, I don’t recommend turning it off system-wide, but instead I would do it on an app-by-app basis. Apps like Apple or Google Maps, weather apps, and some others really need to use your location for efficient operation. However, the McDonald’s app or a grocery store’s app will likely only use location services to notify you of new offers and deals to entice you to enter their stores.”
Location services allow you to be tracked wherever you go — not just by Apple, but also by any third-party apps that you’ve given permission to use location services, says Paul Bischoff, privacy attorney at Comparitech. “Places and times can reveal personal details about your life and habits that you probably don’t want strangers to know about, such as when you leave home, where you shop, where you work, or where your children go to school.”
When you use Location Services, apps can map your daily travels in the real world, much like a browser cookie can track your travels online, says Hauk. The worst that can happen is, “if this information is hacked, the bad actors in the world or even law enforcement can use the information to track your location,” says Hauk.
How to protect yourself
What can you do to protect yourself? Take a few seconds out of your day and disable the service.
“Periodically, I go into the iPhone’s Settings app and tap Privacy -> Location Services,” says Hauk. “In this section is a list of all apps that currently use location services. If you tap the name of each app, you’ll see an explanation of why the app uses the services. If I don’t think the app needs that access, I can limit it or turn it off entirely. I can also limit the app’s access to my exact location.”
Chances are: you don’t want to miss out on location services, and banning apps from accessing your location can go a long way toward protecting your privacy.