Apple announced the much-anticipated iOS7 today during WWDC’s keynote address, and it did not disappoint. Among the many improvements and new features, one area that Apple has come a long way in addressing is Security. From keeping our logins and accounts secure, to helping to stave off iPhone theft, security is clearly a priority for Apple. The new iOS features Activation Lock, iCloud Keychain and a new AirDrop, so let’s dig into each.
Find My iPhone has been an integrated part of iOS and both iPhones and iPads for a while now, and has helped thwart countless would-be thieves, enabling the return of stolen devices to their rightful owners.
But of course, that only works if the stolen or lost device is on and Find My iPhone is enabled. Now, iPhone users who lose their device can log into their Apple ID from any other computer and create a message that will be displayed on their device, as well as prevent that device from being erased. You can also choose to erase your device remotely if you’re unable to locate it and don’t want your data accessed. Once erased, the device will continue to display your custom message and will require your Apple ID and password to reactivate.
Once you recover your device, all you’ll have to do is reactivate it and restore it via iCloud.
With iOS7 available on iPhone 4 and up, there’s little excuse not to upgrade and activate this feature. Just recently, I was on an out of town vacation with family and one of us had their phone literally ripped out of their hands, while on a phone call, and stolen. It wasn’t an iPhone, and in the minutes afterwards, as the shock wore off, he began to realize that not only was there no way for him to recover his phone, but also that all of the data on his phone – his contacts, emails, apps and logins – were all there for the taking. Had he been using an iPhone with iOS7, he would have been able to track his device, possibly recover it, or at least erase it and restore all of his data to a completely new device.
As with the rest of iOS7, there are quite a few upgrades and new features for the default iOS browser, Safari. Notable from a security standpoint are a couple of points.
First, iOS7 brings synchronization across your mobile devices, along with your Mac running the new MacOS Maverick, when it comes to your passwords and accounts. Stored with your contact information within iCloud, you can save usernames and passwords for sites and services, as well as credit cards. Any or all of these options can be turned off within settings, and of course everything is encrypted with 256-bit AES encryption so that you can trust that your data is secure. As with any other browser, you can pick and choose which sites and passwords you want to save, the first time you enter them, so you can always opt not to save particularly sensitive or critical access.
Second, when creating accounts, Safari can now help you generate strong passwords. One of the largest security issues for people is that we tend to use simple passwords – and the same password – all over the place. Safari can now help you create a strong password and then remember it for you (though I would still note it somewhere in case you need it and aren’t using Safari on one of your devices).
And the feature that Android users have mocked Apple for some time due to its lack of presence is the new AirDrop, where two iOS7 users can now share files directly. If you’re near someone, rather than sending them an email or a text message, you can now tap the Share button and choose them, from within any app, and share your file to them via WiFi or Bluetooth.
What’s interesting about this is that any files you send in this manner are automatically encrypted – we can’t say the same about an email you might send. Therefore sharing files with friends nearby is far more secure, and perfect for business meetings.
Both parties need to have iOS7 enabled and either be in your Contacts, or have Discovery turned on. If you don’t want to be seen by others, simply disable Discovery. It’s all handled within the new Control Center, and any files that you do accept will automatically be saved in the appropriate location on your iPhone (pictures in Photos, and so on).
There are many more visual changes and usability features, but these three updates stood out to me as being particularly great for security. Do you agree that these, along with the iPhone’s standard features, make it the most secure smartphone available today? Feel free to comment below.
iOS7 will be available this Fall.