iOS 16 improves user security: Check out these features first

iOS 16 improves user security: Check out these features first

Every major iOS release usually comes with great quality of life upgrades, unexpected issues, and a slew of security updates. After spending some time with iOS 16 over the past few days, I can report that Apple continues to put privacy and security at the forefront of the user experience.

To get the most out of Apple’s efforts, you should take the time to learn about all the new security features to better protect yourself. We outline some top new features here so you know where to start.

Adoption of passwords

Apple wants to eliminate traditional username and password logins and replace them with passwords. With iOS 16, users can take their first steps into a new, password-free world.

An access key is a unique digital key stored on your phone that can only log you into the website it was created for. You sign in to websites with the stored key by scanning a QR code with your Apple device and then verifying your identity using some form of biometric authentication, such as Face ID or Touch ID. Access keys are created and stored on your device, so you don’t have to worry about data leaks on the site that could potentially lead to account takeovers. Because each passkey is specific to the site you create it for, it’s a near-phish-proof solution.

Passkeys are a simple and elegant solution to the online password security problem in an age of near-constant data breaches. I applaud Apple’s continued commitment to fulfilling its user privacy promises from the past and coming through with a smart way to change how we access the internet. The move to Passkeys is a multi-company effort, making it far more likely that the industry will move toward widespread adoption.

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I still recommend trying a password manager, especially if you’re an Android user, but I think passwords are the future of online logins. The password management industry knows it too. LastPass recently launched a passwordless vault access option.

New iOS authentication practices

With iOS 16, photos that are sensitive or that you want to delete are safe from prying eyes because they are now protected with an additional lock. Two albums in the Photos app, hidden and recently deleted, are now only unlocked with Face ID, Touch ID or a password. Another big iOS 16 authentication change is that iPhone users can now unlock their phones with Face ID in either landscape or portrait mode.

Permit changes

Expect a few more pop-up permission requests as Apple finally addressed a security issue that iOS users have been discussing for years(Opens in a new window). Previously, apps could view, copy and potentially paste data from the clipboard. Thanks to iOS 16, apps need user permission before accessing the pasteboard to paste content from another app.

There’s also a change in how permissions are handled on your devices, as you can now stream video from devices that support non-AirPlay streaming protocols. For example, you can stream video from a shared computer without allowing a shared computer to access your LAN or personal Bluetooth connection.

Settings for victims of domestic violence or cybercrime

A new feature in iOS 16’s Settings called Safety Check is designed to help people who are in domestic or intimate partner violence situations. It lets you quickly reset the access you’ve given others and manage your sharing settings.

Access Security Check by performing the following steps:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iOS device and navigate to Privacy & Security.

  2. Scroll to Security Check.

  3. Choose either Emergency Reset to immediately reset access for all your apps in an urgent situation or Manage sharing and access if you have more time to review what data you’re sharing with whom.

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Note that Safety Check has a Quick Exit button you can press in case you are caught using it. The Emergency Reset option will remove all your emergency contacts and reset your Apple credentials so that no one can log into your account without your permission.

There’s also an option for iOS called Lockdown Mode, which Apple says is for “users facing serious, targeted threats to their digital security.” This could refer to activists, government officials, journalists or lawyers, all of whom have been targeted by mercenary spyware companies. In other words, most people reading these words right now don’t need to use lock mode.

While Lock Mode is enabled, the device’s functionality is limited. Message attachments are blocked, websites load more slowly, incoming FaceTime calls from unknown numbers are blocked, Apple services are blocked, Shared Albums are removed, invitations to Shared Albums are blocked, and USB accessories require the device to be unlocked to use. Configuration profiles also cannot be installed in locked mode, and the device cannot participate in Mobile Device Management (MDM). If your device can’t install configuration or MDM profiles, it can’t run common parental control apps or stalkerware.

For those who may find themselves in a dangerous situation where it is prudent to lock a mobile device, follow the steps below to enable the mode on an iPhone.

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  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Tap Privacy and security.

  3. Tap Lock Mode.

  4. Tap Turn on lock mode.

  5. Tap Turn on and restart.

  6. Enter the device password.

Phone calls and text messages without attachments work as normal in lock mode. Emergency functions are also not affected by lock mode. You can also exclude specific apps and websites from Lock Mode by tapping Configure Web Browsing in the Lock Mode menu.

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What else is happening in the security world this week?

LastPass: Hacker had access to development system for 4 days. LastPass releases an update on the investigation into the August hack. “There is no evidence that this incident involved any access to customer data or encrypted password vaults,” it said.

Uber Suffers From ‘Total Compromise’ System Hack. The hacker gained “full access to Uber,” according to a security engineer.

Beware of game cheat downloads in YouTube video descriptions. Videos claiming to offer ways to hack and cheat several popular games include links that download malware, including a password-stealing program called Redline.

How to set up a VPN in Windows 11. A VPN can be a useful tool to improve your online privacy. We guide you through how to set one up on Microsoft’s latest operating system.

The US Customs Service can store data from certain searched phones for 15 years. US Senator Ron Wyden wants Customs and Border Protection to update its data collection policy “to focus on suspected criminals and security threats.” CBP says it follows the law.

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