With the official launch of iOS 6 right around the corner, many are wondering what will become of the security of the operating system. There have been several security compromises over the years that have raised concern about such issues, however they have also since repaired those potential and imminent security threats. With the iPhone 5 breaking presale records within 24 hours, the question that begs to be answered is, “Is this operating system secure?” Let’s get an answer to this looming question.
Accompanying iOS 6 into the consumer market will be over 200 new features, including Passbook, the app that will allow you to compile all of your digital tickets, gift cards, airline tickets, e-movie tickets, coupons, etc). When you really sit back and think about it, this app is storing some very personal information, so it stands to reason consumers would be concerned with how secure these apps are that store an abundance of users’ private information. According to Lysa Myers’ blog for Intego’s Mac Security, this presents a substantial risk for consumers. Myers says:
What a wonderful boon for cybercrime! Personally identifying information, information about when you’ll be out of the house, and potentially-resalable credit information will be there for the taking.
As some of you may know, there was a big hype around whether or not NFC was going to be incorporated into the new devices and operating system. Seeing that they put Passbook on the iPhone 5, it would almost appear inevitable that it would include NFC technology. Apple did not, however, release that feature with the iPhone 5 or iOS 6. In my opinion, NFC would have presented a world of battles that the world is not prepared to fight. As an example, just look at some of the identity theft that has occurred with the Blink feature on some debit or credit cards. It has been pretty substantial.
Along with Passbook, and hundreds of other new features, Apple has ceased to require an Apple ID and password for updating and downloading apps from the app store. As convenient as this sounds (and as convenient as it is for users in iOS 6), this also presents its own whirlwind of concerns. Myers goes on to suggest that malware apps could be installed unbeknownst to the user.
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,
Now that we have addressed the skepticism, let’s take a look at some of the improvements that Apple has provided within the iOS 6 operating system. Being the security buff that she is, Myers mentions a feature known as Kernel Address Space Layout Randomization.
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.
What the addition of this tongue twister really means is that hacking iOS devices will become substantially more difficult. With the KASLR in place, it will take much more skill and effort for the development teams to develop things such as jailbreaks. Not only will it make it much more difficult for them to develop a jailbreak, but it will be far more difficult to implement malware on a non-jailbroken device.
With the knowledge of how much data your device asks to allow permission to your information, it should be a relief to know that Apple is doing so in a manner that is far less obvious than previous versions. Apple has implemented several security features to ensure that your personal information remains just that, personal. Myers adds:
This should go a long way towards making people feel more secure about using apps. Now that Apple is also giving us more view into the actions of legitimate apps as well as trying to keep out unauthorized code, we should be able to breathe a little easier about the security of [our] data.
According to Myers, this operating system could be the most secure operating system that Apple has produced yet.
iOS 6 will debut Wednesday for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.