Ever since the first Macintosh, Apple has boasted of their machines’ superiority when it comes to virus protection, and their users usually list this as a major deciding factor between Apple’s products and their competitors. However, with the exponential growth Apple has received in the past decade, more and more tricky hackers are looking to disprove Apple’s claims.
Malware and viruses specifically designed for Apple products are on the rise, putting the spotlight on Apple’s security efforts.
In mid-September, Apple finally released an update to its devices’ operating system that promised heightened security — but did Apple really deliver on privacy with iOS 8? While a few features definitely beef up protection of users’ precious private files, other updates are not nearly as beneficial to Apple’s security goals.
Goodbye, Government Searches
One of the most important developments Apple made in iOS 8 was their announced refusal to allow law enforcement access to their customers’ devices. Previously, Apple had access to each and every Apple device, and many government agencies utilized Apple’s access for information — sometimes with warrants, sometimes without. Apple announced that they will no longer be granting any governmental agency permission to unlock Apple devices, and they have patched up each and every backdoor that allowed the company access to individual iPhones and iPads. Additionally, Apple has pledged its devotion to keeping the American National Security Agency away from private data on Apple devices.
Hello, Trustworthy Networks
A particularly handy new feature is the ability to monitor what computers are connected to Apple devices, and to quickly and easily — just the swipe of a finger, really — mark all connected devices as untrustworthy. This is actually a particularly useful development, as most of iOS 8’s new security features make Apple devices more secure than users’ home computers. If an iPhone or iPad is connected to a network with an unsecure computer, hackers could easily reach the device and begin attempting to infiltrate. Computers need not be untrustworthy forever, though; it’s easy enough to bring computers up to Apple’s standards of security with increased safety measures like encryption or multi-factor authentication from a site like www.safenet-inc.com.
Hello, Serious Data Encryption
To prevent easy access to data, the new iOS 8 encrypts user data on all devices protected with a passcode or fingerprint ID. Thus, without the four-digit ID users employ to unlock their devices, spies are not able to decipher private data on Apple products. While encryption has been an option for users in past iOS systems, this new development is automatic.
Unfortunately, the use of iCloud could negate this new feature. While everything saved on the device becomes encrypted, recent breaches of Apple’s iCloud service shows that storing data off the device is perhaps not as safe. Additionally, while users plug their devices into computers without iOS 8 protection, their automatic encryption disappears. This means users could be putting their precious photos, videos, music, and messages into the hands of data thieves by using outside devices.
Hopefully, Apple will continue to develop security measures for all their products, iCloud included.
Goodbye, Targeted Advertising
Plenty of companies monitor your online activity — or any activity you perform on their devices — and sell that information to advertisers looking for the perfect audience. Virtually every email service scours your private messages for keywords indicating your consuming habits, and the websites you visit create cookies on your devices with advertisers can view to help their sales tactics. With iOS 8, Apple decreed they’ll end this habit. Apple’s new CEO Tim Cook stated, “We don’t ‘monetize’ the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you.”
This is a momentous step away from the tactics many other Web and tech giants are employing to gain some fast cash. Advertising is big business, and with so many rich U.S. consumers using Apple products, Apple could stand to make a fortune by selling data on their users. However, advertising profiles do compromise the integrity of any security system; it’s difficult to show customers you value their security when you sell their information to the highest bidder. Apple’s move is smart and safe.
Apple’s iOS 8 was a behemoth to download, and many users complained of the time it took for their devices to become usable again. However, the new system is leaps and bounds better than anything Apple has put out in the past — especially in terms of security.