Enhancing iOS App Security with Face ID: A Guide for Securing Company Apps

Published: 2024/01/10 By: Neyts Zupan

In the era of remote work and constant digital interaction, securing sensitive company information accessible through mobile apps has become paramount. For iOS users, an additional layer of security can be implemented for apps like Slack, GitHub Mobile, and Mail, even if they don’t natively support Face ID authentication. This blog post will guide you through a simple yet effective hack to secure these apps using Face ID, leveraging iOS’s Guided Access feature and Shortcuts.

Why Extra Security is Necessary

While using company apps on personal iPhones, there’s always a risk of exposing sensitive information. Imagine someone getting access to your unlocked device, or observing your PIN; they could easily access your company’s Slack messages or emails. To mitigate this, we can add an extra layer of security.

Step 1: Understanding Guided Access

Guided Access on iOS helps you stay focused on a task by temporarily restricting your device to a single app. However, it can also be used to “lock” an app, requiring authentication (like Face ID) to exit it.

To enable Guided Access:

  1. Go to Settings > Accessibility.
  2. Scroll down to Guided Access and turn it on.
  3. Set a passcode that controls the use of Guided Access and enable Face ID.

Step 2: Creating a Shortcut for Face ID Authentication

We’ll use Shortcuts to trigger Guided Access immediately after opening the selected apps, adding an extra layer of security.

  1. Open the Shortcuts app, go to the Automation tab.
  2. Tap the “+” to create a new automation.
  3. Select “App” and then choose “Is Opened” and “Run Immediately”
  4. Choose the apps your want to secure, tap “Done” and then “Next”.
  5. Select “New Blank Automation”, Tap the “+ Add Action” and find “Start Guided Access”.
  6. After this, tap on “Next” and give your shortcut a name, like “Secure Slack.” Tap “Done” to save.
  7. Now, open the Slack app and you will see a layover saying “Guided Access started”. Triple-click the side button and enter your Guided Access passcode to go into settings.
  8. Tap “Options” and disable all features.
  9. Repeat step 7 & 8 for all apps you want to secure

Step 3: Using the Shortcut

Now, every time you open the selected app, the shortcut will activate Guided Access and you will see the “Guided Access started” layover. Because you disabled all features, the phone will be completely locked: touch will not work, buttons will not work.

You’ll need to double-click the side button and Face ID will stop Guided Access, re-enabling the touch and buttons so you can continue with your work.

This simple trick can significantly enhance the security of company apps on your personal iPhone. While some apps offer native Face ID support, for those that don’t, this workaround ensures that your sensitive work information remains secure, even if your phone falls into the wrong hands. Always stay ahead in securing your digital workspace!

Neyts Zupan

Neyts is the Pareto Security co-founder and Tech Lead.

See other posts »