iOS 6: Apple’s most secure iOS yet but still poses some privacy concerns

Ashleigh Allsopp
19 September, 2012
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Apple’s iOS 6 is set to be released tonight and could be joined by the Mountain Lion 10.8.2 update. However, security company Intego suggests that some of iOS 6’s feature cause security and privacy concerns, while others have improvements in those areas.

iOS 6 will bring more than 200 new features to Apple’s mobile devices, including Passbook, the new app that brings together digital tickets, gift cards, loyalty cards, vouchers, and coupons in one place. With that comes significant security risks, writes Lysa Myers on Intego’s Mac Security Blog.

“What a wonderful boon for cybercrime!” Myers writes. “Personally identifying information, information about when you’ll be out of the house, and potentially-resalable credit information will be there for the taking.”

Myers reveals that she was relieved to hear that NFC was not added to the iPhone 5, a feature that many analysts predicted would be included in Apple’s new device to work with iOS 6’s Passbook.

Myers also points to Apple’s decision to remove the necessity to enter a password in order to download free apps from the App Store. “If people are used to apps installing without a password, people will be unfazed by apps appearing on their screen without having to give explicit permission,” she notes, suggesting that malicious apps could be installed on a device without the user being aware of it.

On the other hand, there are some improvements to iOS 6 that increase the security of the mobile operating system. This includes Kernel Address Space Layout Randomization, says Myers. “The name alone is a mouthful of gibberish for a lot of folks. But from a security perspective, this is perhaps the most exciting feature of iOS 6,” she writes.

The new features means that “hackers can no longer use some of the most common methods for breaking into software,” Myers explains. “This means it will take a whole lot more skill and effort to come up with a jailbreak that works for iOS 6, and it also means it will be harder for malware authors to sneak onto non-jailbroken machines.”

Following an increase in reports revealing that apps are able to gather information about iOS users without making it obvious. In iOS 6, Apple has put warnings in place to help users become more aware of what information an app is able to access. “This should go a long way towards making people feel more secure about using apps,” writes Myers.

“All in all, this new version of iOS looks to be the most secure version yet,” Myers concludes… Now that Apple is also giving us more view into the actions of legitimate apps as well as trying to keep out unauthorised code, we should be able to breathe a little easier about the security of your data.”

iOS 6 will be available to download for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users, and will introduce a raft of new features to Apple’s mobile devices, including a new Maps app, Siri improvements, a new Panorama feature, iCloud improvements and more.

Apple could also be planning to release the Mac OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.2 update tomorrow, after seeding two builds of the update to developers within three days. The update will bring Facebook and iOS 6 integration to the Mac.

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