The IoT isn’t the safest place, all-things-considered. Hacked cameras, hacked appliances, hacked video game consoles, and worst of all, hacked cellphones.
That’s the last thing you want, right? A compromised supercomputer that fits in your pocket and contains all of your most important information. There are plenty of people out there just salivating at the thought of getting their hands on your digital goodies.
The bad guys and internet goliaths (like Google and Facebook) are getting better and better at hiding their dirty doings in legitimate apps and websites. Your phone, your lifeline to all things consumable, is incredibly vulnerable to all sorts of things.
People, in general, aren’t all that prone to checking up on their privacy settings or limiting an application’s access to personal data. Most people seem to be more than willing to share as much information as they can with as many people as they can.
Apple’s decided more people should be aware of what they share and who’s tracking them with their latest mobile software release iOS 14. We’ve never made it a secret here on the blog that Security7 is a big fan of Apple and the hardware and software they produce. This new iOS 14 is a fantastic step in the right direction when it comes to Apple helping the average consumer protect their private information.
Here are our top 7 iOS 14 features and why it’s a good idea for you to upgrade your iPhones and iPads as soon as possible.
Pro-Active Password Manager – People are bad at passwords and even worse at password management. Apple aims to change that with iOS 14. Apple’s had a pretty decent password manager with the built-in Keychain app, but iOS 14 supercharges it.
One of the worst mistakes a person can make is reusing the same password over and over again. But, with the number of services and websites out there that people sign up to use, it can be problematic to create unique, strong passwords for each one. Using the same password for multiple log-ins is a terrible but easy habit to pick-up. iOS 14 aims to change that.
If you’re using the built-in Keychain app, and most people do, Apple’s software scans your saved passwords, looks for duplicates, and prompts the user to change the duplicated password when they go to log-in.
Front-Facing Camera and Microphone Notifications – Today, people are facing the very real risk that some bad hombre will hack into your IoT device, access your camera or microphone, capture some unflattering material, and then hold their target hostage for some ridiculous amount.
The scary thing is, for the most part, these attacks happen without the user ever knowing their device has been compromised. With growing concerns that “legitimate” businesses are beginning to access the camera or the microphone on a user’s device in order to snoop on them and improve advertising revenue via more “personalized” results.
Sketchy stuff. To fix that, iOS 14 now not only prompts users to allow microphone and camera access when using an application but now it notifies the user if either has been turned on via a UI change.
Now, if the camera is on you’ll see a small green dot in the upper right-hand corner of your screen next to your carrier/wi-fi information. If your microphone is on, you’ll see an orange dot in the same location. You can also look in the notification center to see which app has recently used either device.
Apps Can’t Track Your Clipboard Content Without Being Called Out Directly – I mentioned above that applications from “legitimate” companies love to snoop on you when you’re using product or service. One of the places they like to look is your clipboard or anything that you’ve copied and you’re looking to paste later on.
iOS nipped that in the butt in a very matter of fact way. Now, when you go to copy and paste something, like, a URL, you’re notified by a UI element that you’ve either copied or pasted something. If you ever see that notification without having copied and pasted something, there might be something up and you should rethink using that application or service.
Better Privacy, À la Carte Tracking – Advertising is a hugely lucrative business for companies like Facebook and Google. They collect and consume data at an astonishing rate. All, they claim, to better serve their end-users. Really, that’s a bunch of horse poop and they’re trying to make a bigger buck. It’s not rocket science.
Apple’s not too keen on that and in iOS 14, they’re looking to change the way businesses track people through their applications via a feature called “Privacy Cards” for individual applications. Basically, a setting that’ll allow an end-user to see exactly how an application might be tracking them or collecting data and allow them, potentially to turn it off.
Facebook hated the feature so much they actually lobbied Apple to try and keep the feature out of iOS 14. It didn’t work, though Apple did give companies a bit more time to button up their own tracking policies before the feature is implemented sometime early next year.
Wi-Fi Tracking, Eliminated – Every device that’s connected to the internet has something called a MAC address. This MAC address is unique to the device. There’s a concern that Internet Service Providers are using these addresses to track people and harvest their consumption habits.
With iOS 14, you’ve got the ability to generate a brand spanking new MAC address every time you connect to a network, allowing you to thumb your nose at any ISP that’s trying to poke their nose where you don’t want them to.
Limit What Photos an Application Has Access to – Photos have long been a touchy subject when it comes to social media services. Who own’s what? Are your photos yours after you upload them? If you give a service like Instagram or FaceApp access to your camera roll do they upload everything? Inquiring minds want to know!
There are a lot of different answers to that question, and even then, people still aren’t happy with the answers they get. Apple’s made a simple solution in iOS 14 that really makes the matter moot.
Now, instead of letting an application having full access to your camera roll and any potentially sensitive photographs you might have stored there, iOS 14 allows an end-user to directly select what photos the app has access to and keeps the other photos in the camera roll safe and secure.
Who knows, maybe this feature will help people avoid posting embarrassing photos that aren’t meant for public consumption? If anybody knows Captain America actor Chris Evans, you might want to send this article to him directly.
Privacy Reports from Safari – Every website tracks you. Gasp! I know, shocking! The New York Times tracks you. Facebook tracks you. Google tracks you. Everybody tracks you. That’s sort of skeevy when you think about it, but hey, them’s the breaks, right?
Yeah, unfortunately. There are tools out there that can help stop websites from tracking you. You might not care who’s tracking you and what they’re using your data for. That’s up to you.
But if you’re even slightly interested in finding out who’s tracking you and how, iOS 14 makes it a bit easier to find out via Privacy Reports generated via the software’s built-in web browser, Safari.
Now, after installing iOS 14, you should see a UI change in Safari’s URL bar. It’s represented by a double-A button or “AA” to the left of the URL. If you tap on that you’ll bring up a sub-menu where you can access the browser’s new “Privacy Report” feature.
It’ll show you things like what websites have been tracking you, how many trackers are on that website, and let you know how many of those trackers the browser was successfully able to stop. It’s pretty nifty and I recommend you check it out when you get a chance.
So, there you have it. There are our top picks of the new privacy features in iOS 14. You should be able to upgrade your devices directly through the Settings app if you haven’t already. I whole heartedly recommend it.