Concerned about privacy? Keep iOS and Mac OS up to date!

SecurityIconXOne of the long-standing problems that users have had with personal computing devices is the degree of privacy they offer, especially as devices are being used more and more for financial, medical, and other personal information. Behind the pretty interface in which you enter your social security number or bank account number and click “save,” the information could be well encrypted or simply be sent and stored as plain text for any passer-by to see.

Not only have these concerns been noted by those worried about theft, but they also extend to how much companies and government can track or delve into your personal data. After all, with paper documentation you can lock it away physically, but with information on a device connected to a cloud infrastructure, one might imagine data easily being transferred to, or intercepted by, unwanted crooks and authorities.

As mobile devices and the uses of cloud infrastructure for private data have developed, there have been some oversights with security that have allowed for such breaches in security, and both thieves and government agencies with technical know-how have been able to get data. In addition, agencies have in the past requested companies like Apple unlock devices and provide other means of getting data.

While Apple has complied with such requests in the past, following the recent release of iOS 8, Apple has changed these policies to in effect close off the ability for governments to get personal data off of your iOS device.

“Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data. So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”

These policies are now in effect not only because of Apple’s commitment to privacy, but primarily because Apple’s progressive implementation of encryption and other privacy measures in its devices–both in software and in hardware–have made it almost impossible to retrieve this data.

While these are Apple’s new policies, keep in mind they only apply because the latest software and hardware it develops support this. Therefore, if you are concerned about security but are using older technology, such as an iPhone 4 running iOS 6, then you might consider upgrading at least your OS, but also perhaps your hardware, to ensure your system is using all of the latest security options that Apple has to offer.

Not only does this apply to mobile offerings, but also to Apple’s Mac OS operating system, where not only can you implement security features to fully lock your personal files from prying eyes, but as software is updated, better security is implemented about how your data is both stored and communicated between devices.

Keep in mind, security with upgrades applies to third-party software as well, where in addition to stability improvements security holes are continually found and patched, so even though you might be skeptical of an update for programs like Microsoft Word, or Pages, be sure to apply them as soon as possible.

3 thoughts on “Concerned about privacy? Keep iOS and Mac OS up to date!

  1. xAirbusdriver

    Despite your “as soon as possible” comment, I assume you still recommend a bit of patience to allow for undiscovered bugs and problems to appear… I still wait a bit! No need to be cut by that “bleeding edge”! 😉 Of course, it’s also best to have a “restore” method available.

    1. Topher Kessler Post author

      Absolutely. Give it time to determine if there are any outstanding problems, but then be sure to upgrade and not simply avoid an update for months (or longer).

  2. Chris Hart, Independent Apple/Mac Consultant, Connecticut

    Third party updates are definitely of equal importance. The typical Mac has many apps that run background processes, and they provide potential security loopholes. Again, keeping them up to date is key. This is especially important with applications that are cross-platform, that are frequent hacker targets — Adobe Flash Player and Adobe Reader are prime examples (but there are many others).

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