Cybersecutity

iOS 15 bringing new privacy protections

New features help users control and monitor apps’ use of their data

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Apple today previewed new privacy protections in iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and watchOS 8, to help users better control and manage access to their data. Apple says that these features represent the latest innovations in Apple’s legacy of privacy leadership, as the company has continually expanded its commitment to privacy and encouraged change across the industry with features like App Tracking Transparency and Privacy Nutrition Labels on the App Store.

“Privacy has been central to our work at Apple from the very beginning,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering.

“Every year, we push ourselves to develop new technology to help users take more control of their data and make informed decisions about whom they share it with.

This year’s updates include innovative features that give users deeper insights and more granular control than ever before.”

Protect Data from Third Parties

In the Mail app, Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. The new feature helps users prevent senders from knowing when they open an email, and masks their IP address so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location.

For a number of years, Intelligent Tracking Prevention has helped protect Safari users from unwanted tracking by using on-device machine learning to stop trackers while allowing websites to function normally. This year, Intelligent Tracking Prevention is getting even stronger by also hiding the user’s IP address from trackers. This means they can’t utilize the user’s IP address as a unique identifier to connect their activity across websites and build a profile about them.

Check Up on App Privacy

With App Privacy Report, users can see how often each app has used the permission they’ve previously granted to access their location, photos, camera, microphone, and contacts during the past seven days.

Users can check whether this makes sense to them, and take action by going to the app in Settings if it doesn’t. Users can also find out with whom their data may be shared by seeing all the third-party domains an app is contacting.

Process Audio of Siri Requests on Device

With on-device speech recognition, the audio of users’ requests is processed right on their iPhone or iPad by default. This addresses one of the biggest privacy concerns for voice assistants, which is unwanted audio recording.

For many requests, Siri processing is also moving on device, enabling requests to be processed without an internet connection, such as launching apps, setting timers and alarms, changing settings, or controlling music.

Enhance Internet Privacy with iCloud+

iCloud+ brings new premium features, including iCloud Private Relay, Hide My Email, and expanded HomeKit Secure Video support, at no additional cost. Private Relay is a new internet privacy service that’s built right into iCloud, allowing users to connect to and browse the web in a more secure and private way.

When browsing with Safari, Private Relay ensures all traffic leaving a user’s device is encrypted, so no one between the user and the website they are visiting can access and read it, not even Apple or the user’s network provider. All the user’s requests are then sent through two separate internet relays.

The first assigns the user an anonymous IP address that maps to their region but not their actual location. The second decrypts the web address they want to visit and forwards them to their destination. This separation of information protects the user’s privacy because no single entity can identify both who a user is and which sites they visit.

iOS 15 Hide My Email

Expanding on the capabilities of Sign in with Apple, Hide My Email lets users share unique, random email addresses that forward to their personal inbox anytime they wish to keep their personal email address private. Built directly into Safari, iCloud settings, and Mail, Hide My Email also enables users to create and delete as many addresses as needed at any time, helping give users control of who is able to contact them.

iCloud+ expands built-in support for HomeKit Secure Video, so users can connect more cameras than ever before in the Home app, while giving them end-to-end encrypted storage for home security video footage that will not count against their storage capacity. HomeKit Secure Video also ensures that activity detected by users’ security cameras is analysed and encrypted by their Apple devices at home before being securely stored in iCloud.

These releases also feature powerful new tools that help developers enhance app functionality while preserving user privacy.

With share current location, users can easily share their current location with an app just once, without giving the developer further access after that session. Developers can customize the share current location button, and integrate it directly into their apps.

With enhanced Photos limited library access, developers can offer smart functionality — like a recent photos folder for specific albums — even when a user has only granted limited access.

With secure paste, developers can let users paste from a different app without having access to what was copied until the user takes action to paste it into their app. When developers use secure paste, users will be able to paste without being alerted via the pasteboard transparency notification, helping give them peace of mind.

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