Now that the Petya and WannaCry attacks are in the past, you might be wondering what happened and if more big malware-related surprises are on the way. One thing we can reassure you about is that the NSA and other intelligence agencies aren’t going to rest easy until they’ve figured out how to defeat our security tools. That being said, sometimes we need to use those security tools to stay safe when we aren’t at home. Luckily, you can change your VPN on the fly—at least, you can on the iPhone. Here, we’ll teach you how.
Before You Begin
Before you start changing your VPN on the iPhone, you need to take a few steps. First, you need to ensure that your iPhone is updated to the latest iOS version. As a general rule of thumb, always update your devices’ software as soon as possible, especially if you use a public computer or network to complete most of your daily tasks. This is because there are a number of well-known vulnerabilities that have been exposed by the latest patches and bug fixes. The key term to look out for is “iPhone”, followed by the version number.
Also, make sure that your security settings and passwords are on hand before you start changing anything. It’s always a good idea to memorize a few different passwords for different sites and services, so you won’t forget them when you need them. If you’re truly concerned about your digital security, take a minute to create a password manager and use a different password for every website and service you are connected to.
Find The “General” Settings
Open the Settings app on your iPhone. You’ll see a variety of tabs along the top, including General, Wi-Fi, and so on. To change your VPN, you need to first explore the General settings. You can then connect to a Wi-Fi network, if you’re using one, or choose to connect via ethernet cable (if you have one).
Connect To A VPN (Step-by-Step)
If you’re connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi, tap your profile photo (the one with your name on it) and tap “Menu”. This will open up a list of available Wi-Fi networks. Find the one that has the best signal and tap it. Next, you need to authenticate yourself with the network. To do this, open the Settings app again and tap General. From there, you can enter your username and password, and the network will remember them for you.
You can also choose to connect to a VPN when you’re not on Wi-Fi. To do this, open the Settings app and tap Wi-Fi. From there, you can tap VPN, and you’ll be prompted to enter your username and password. Again, the network will remember your details for you.
Change The SSH Key
If you use Secure Shell (SSH) to remotely connect to your devices, like with a VPS (virtual private server), then you need to change the key pair that is being used to encrypt the connection. To do this, open up the Settings app and navigate to General. Once there, you can choose to use a passphrase or a short-term password to encrypt the data. Keep in mind that if somebody hacks into your device and gets this information, they will be able to access all of the data on it. This is why it is so important to not use reused passwords, but instead, to change them frequently.
Change The Domain Name
Your iPhone’s domain name determines the sites that you can access when connected to a VPN. For example, if your domain is example.com, then sites like Google, YouTube, and Facebook will be inaccessible when you’re connected to a VPN (that’s not desirable!). To change the domain name, open the Settings app and navigate to General. Once there, you can choose to have the DNS lookups performed automatically or you can enter your own DNS servers. Keep in mind that you’ll need to perform a complete reboot to have the changes take effect (even then, some services and websites might still be down).
Change The Mail Settings
Mail on your iPhone is actually handled by Mail app, but it uses a setting called “Reply With” to determine how you want your emails to be responded to. You can choose from “Reply To”, “CC” (carbon copy) or “BCC” (blind carbon copy). When you’re connected to a VPN, your emails will be replied to using the settings you chose, so you might need to change this manually if you want to use a different protocol or have emails be responded to using different words (like “Cc” rather than “CC”).
To change the “Reply With” setting, open the Settings app and navigate to Messages. Once there, you can choose the Reply With setting you want to use. Keep in mind that the email servers of the various services you have connected to might not all be compatible with the new settings, so you might encounter errors when trying to send or receive emails while connected to a VPN.
Change The Keychain
Your iPhone’s keychain is a list of all the passwords and other sensitive information that Apple has associated with your account. To change it, open the Settings app and navigate to Passwords. You can then enter your iCloud password and delete all the existing keychains. You can then create a new keychain and use a different password for each item in it.
To change the account settings for your credit cards and other payment methods, open the Settings app and navigate to Wallet & Banking. You can then use the Passcode Lock setting to require a four-digit PIN to access your accounts. If somebody else uses your device while you’re out, they will have to input the pin whenever they want to make a payment or access your accounts. This ensures that your information is still protected even if someone else is using your device while you’re out and about.
Change The Screen Rotation
To change the screen rotation on your iPhone, open the Settings app and navigate to Display & Rotation. To choose a different language for the device’s display, tap the switch next to the one you want to use and choose a new language from the list. Keep in mind that some of the languages might not be available depending on your location (eg. Chinese or Japanese)—in that case, you’ll just have to settle for what’s available to you.
Consider All Of This
With all of these changes, you might want to consider what security risks you’re taking on by changing your VPN settings. If you’re truly concerned about your privacy, then using a VPN might not be the right choice for you (that being said, changing the password of your email account is far safer and easier, while also providing you with a certain degree of privacy).
After You’ve Configured Everything
Once you’ve completed all of the steps described above, you can test whether or not your VPN is working properly by connecting to one of the servers that you previously configured. Launch Safari on your iPhone and enter the address bar of the browser. You’ll see a list of all the servers that are currently connected to the network. If you’re seeing multiple servers, then your VPN is working properly. If you’re seeing just one server, then make sure that you’ve connected to the correct one.
When you’re satisfied that your VPN is working properly, you can disconnect it by following the steps outlined above.