Apple’s highly anticipated iOS 17 update for iPhones arrives today with a number of new and improved security features. Many of the new features are aimed at protecting iPhone owners who are at greater risk from cyber attacks and spyware, such as journalists, activists and human rights defenders. Other iOS 17 features are better suited to the broader population, including anti-web tracking and secure password storage and easy sharing of newer phishing-resistant passcodes.
Here’s what we’ve seen so far.
New protections in Lockdown mode
The biggest addition to Lockdown Mode is that it now runs on Apple Watch, and not just iPhones, iPads and Macs. It can’t come soon enough, as recent exploits used to install spyware could have put Apple Watch owners at risk.
Lockdown Mode works by selectively disabling certain iPhone (and Watch) features that have been exploited by spyware makers in the past, such as iMessage and HomeKit, making it much more difficult to break into a device and steal its data. to steal.
Lockdown mode in iOS 17 also automatically removes geolocation data from photos by default when sharing photos with other people, such as where the photo was taken, which could reveal a person’s whereabouts.
Another useful feature means that iPhones in Lockdown Mode will automatically connect to unsecured Wi-Fi networks allowing someone on the same network to analyze the iPhone’s network traffic. Lockdown mode also blocks connections to 2G mobile networks. This aims to block a range of mobile exploits commonly used by cell phone site simulators, or “stingrays,” which law enforcement officers use to trick nearby phones into connecting to fake cell phone base stations, track phone locations, and to snoop on calls and messages. . Stingrays are controversial because they operate over a wide area and do not discriminate which devices they entangle.
More anti-web tracking features
iOS 17’s Safari browser now removes tracking information from web addresses that can be used to uniquely identify your device and track you across the web. This makes it more difficult for websites and advertisers to see what other sites you visit.
You can select this feature in your Safari settings on iOS 17 to work when you use private browsing, or you can apply it to all browsing sessions to really make a dent. This should not affect or interrupt your daily browsing experience.
Private browsing is also locked by default, prompting the device owner to scan their face or fingerprint before opening their private tabs.
Safety features at check-in and scammer avoidance
Passkeys, the phishing-resistant password replacement that lets you log in without fear of your passwords being stolen, is getting an update. Tons of sites and services already support passcodes: Apple, Google, Microsoft, PayPal, and plenty of others. Soon you will be password-free for good. You can now share passcodes (and passwords, if necessary) with friends and family. Passwords and passwords are shared using end-to-end encryption so that no one other than the members of the group can access them, not even Apple.
Check-in is a new feature that allows iPhone owners to share with friends when they plan to arrive safely at their destination. The feature monitors the person’s real-time location and alerts the friend if something seems wrong. This location data is end-to-end encrypted, eliminating the need for third-party apps that have sold your location data to advertisers and data brokers.
And finally, live transcription is an added bonus for people who never want to deal with a spam or scam call again. Instead of answering (or declining) the phone (both of which can let the caller know the line is active), live transcription converts the caller’s voice into text displayed on the screen in real time.