Is iOS 15 Beneficial for your Digital Security?

October 01, 2021 3 min read 1 Comment

Is iOS 15 Beneficial for your Digital Security?

Apple's latest software update might just be the security update we've been looking for.

After a long period of beta testing, Apple has launched iOS 15. It has a slew of improvements (as well as some excellent hidden features), and while it's more evolution than revolution, it gets a lot of things right, including stability. 

Apple's Version of a VPN

This update allows the user to turn something on in Safari called, "iCloud Private Relay." This feature sends your traffic through multiple servers to mask your actual location.

This iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 feature prevents websites and trackers from identifying your actual IP address.

Every iPhone, like every other device connected to the internet, has its IP address. Websites and businesses can use it to identify you and create an account of your online activities. 

If this sounds familiar, it's because this is what a standard VPN (virtual private network) does.

At present this is only available for Apple+ subscribers, but we can see this being rolled out across the board eventually.

To use this go to Settings, and at the top, tap your name and then go to iCloud and enable Private Relay.

Bye Bye Marketing Email Trackers

Another feature that is poised to protect the user, is the "Protect Mail Activity" feature for the native Apple Mail Application.

If you don't know already, many marketing emails that you get contain a "pixel" inside that lets the company know if you even opened the email and if you clicked on it. This also can tell the sender your IP address, location, and other details.

This feature prevents tracking pixels by downloading all remote photos as soon as you receive an email, as well as hiding your real IP and locations.

To enable go to Settings > Mail, tap on Privacy Protection and enable Protect Mail Activity.

Application's Usage of Your Phone, In Your Hands

The final step in the right direction is the "Record App Activity" feature. As it sounds, once turned on, this gives you a report every week of what the applications on your phone are accessing at all times.

This can be anything from the following list:

  • The user's photo library
  • A camera
  • The microphone
  • The user's contacts
  • The user's media library
  • Location data
  • Screen sharing

And at any time!

We've reported cases of applications using your camera without your knowledge, and even ones that could access your whole phone without your knowledge. Apple already previously introduced changes to the App store to show an applications history, and this is a further step in making sure the end user knows what they are getting into.

After your first week you'll probably realize that quite a few may be accessing more than you want an unknown third-parties to see.

To turn this on, go to Settings and go to Privacy, and scroll all the way down to the bottom where you'll find Record App Activity.

The biggest threat that the three of these features aim to combat is your physical location as you move throughout the world. We applaud Apple for making these steps, but that doesn't mean its perfect. To completely mask your location while you aren't actively using your devices, drop your device in a Faraday Sleeve to completely be shut off from the digital world.

Brandon Lasko
Brandon Lasko


1 Response

Scott
Scott

October 14, 2021

My concern is CSAM scanning algorithm. My understanding is that Apple will be scanning hash “signatures” of messages, photos etc not only on iCloud but endpoints as well. Thanks but I’ll stick with ioS 13(x) and take my chances with security vulnerabilities.

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