We’ve put together a list of the best privacy and security features you’ll find in the new iOS version and how to configure them properly to protect yourself and your data. iOS13 comes preinstalled on all iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro models and is available as a free upgrade for all devices starting with iPhone 6, as well as iPad devices.
1. Location Tracking Permissions
Location tracking for apps is one of the things that folks complained a lot about. Every time you opened an app for the first time, a notification box would pop-up and ask you if you want to grant location access permission. This screen only had two options: “Allow location access while using” and “Don’t Allow.”
With iOS13, you now have an additional option: “Allow Once.” When you choose this option, each time you open the app, you’ll be asked for location permission again. This option solves the problem of allowing access haphazardly and not realizing how much information you’re giving to all the apps on your phone.
There is a significant data privacy issue with not keeping your location access permissions in check. While you could always turn-off location services on the individual apps, it required you to go into your Settings and adjust them manually . With the “Allow Once” option, you have more control over when an app is allowed to use your location.
IOS13 also has an added alert feature for apps that are using location access in the background. You will periodically receive alerts letting you know that an app has been using your location in the background. You will be asked if you’re OK with this. The alert also includes a map that shows places the location data that app is storing. The map feature can be an eye-opener. These periodic checks are a far cry from the set-it and forget-it mentality!
If you have apps – maps, weather forecasts and so on – that you desire to give permanent location access, you can “whitelist” them. Then they’ll have access to your location without the prompts.
Here’s how you whitelist an app:
- Go to Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services
- Choose the app you’d like to whitelist
- Select “Always” under “Allow Location Access.”
2. Uncovering Bluetooth Tracking
Some third-party apps can be sneaky. Instead of directly asking for access to your location data, they’ll tap into your Bluetooth. That way, they can use Bluetooth to not only acquire your location data, but many other details – such as what devices you currently have configured to use Bluetooth – as well.
IOS13 now requires you to grant permission every time an app tries access Bluetooth. Some apps work with Bluetooth devices – like your FitBit – and you’ll need to grant that permission for them to function. However, when something like Facebook asks for it, it should raise some questions. Users have reported no changes in functionality if Bluetooth authorization is denied, so you should really consider whether an app really needs access to it.
To review apps that have asked for Bluetooth access and to revoke access if you want to, go to Settings -> Privacy -> Bluetooth.
3. WiFi Snooping
Before iOS13, an app could get your location data even if you didn’t grant it, just by accessing WiFi. When an app accessed your WiFi, it could find out your location, location history, and more stuff that you might want to keep away from prying eyes.
From now on, an app will be able to access your WiFi information unless you grant it access to your location data. The exceptions are VPN apps and any apps used to configure and use a hotspot or any other smart device that creates its own temporary WiFi network to connect.
Preventing WiFi snooping is an automatic feature of iOS13, and you don’t have to configure anything for it to work.
4. Find My App Merge
Find Friends and Find My iPhone have been combined into the new Find My app in iOS13. The app now features offline tracking. Before this upgrade, if your laptop was stolen, it required WiFi to work by sending its last known WiFi location to you. Find My is now bypasses WiFi and uses Bluetooth. Your devices check their location via Bluetooth and send it to you.
The location is transmitted securely through Apple’s servers, using nearby cellular-connected iPhones and other devices. The location information is cryptographically scrambled and anonymized. Only the device owner and Apple can get access to the location information.
Here’s how you can make sure that you have Find My turned on for all your devices:
*Go to Settings -> Privacy -> Location Service -> Share My Location -> Find My iPhone
*Turn on the “Find My iPhone” and “Enable Offline Finding”
*You can also turn on “Send Last Location” which will send the device’s last known location to Apple once the battery goes critically low.
5. Protect Your Privacy Sharing Photos
IOS13 now allows you to remove location data from your photo metadata. Most people don’t realize that when you take a photo with your iPhone, it stores your location in the photograph’s metadata. This is a tremendous privacy and security issue: that metadata is sent to anyone you send the picture to, including your social media accounts. Criminals can extract your photo’s metadata and find the location of your home and work, all based on your social media pictures.
To configure whether or not location data is stored with each photograph, do this:
*Go to Settings -> Privacy -> Location Service -> Camera.
*Select which option fits you
There’s also a way to store the location data in pictures for your own use while also stripping it out when uploading to social media:
*When sharing directly to Social Media from your Photo or Camera app, select “Options” at the top of the screen
*Turn off Location under “Include”
6. Protect Your Family & Friends’ Sensitive Information in Contacts
Before iOS13, when you gave access to your contacts to one of your apps, it got all the information in there, including whatever you had put in the Notes section. People often use the Notes section of their contact list for sensitive information like garage door codes, entry codes, and even PINs.
AS of iOS13 upgrade, the Notes section is now completely encrypted, and is no longer a part of data that an app can access. This security feature helps protect you, your family, and friends from data breaches.
7. Anti-Tracking Updates for Safari
With iOS13, Safari has received a privacy upgrade as well! Apple has implemented anti-tracking enhancements to its native browser. They prevent cross-site tracking and browser fingerprinting, the reason why you’re followed around by ads from sites you have visited but have nothing to do with the site you are currently on. This is a great user experience improvement that adds another layer of privacy to browsing online.
Anti-tracking is turned on automatically when you download iOS13.
Apple’s emphasis on security and privacy in their latest iOS13 update does set the bar for other operating systems. However, it’s also a demonstration of how many security issues can exist and persist over years of development. For those times when Apple can’t – or won’t – protect your data, you employ Surfshark VPN. It’s more than just a tool for accessing geo-locked content – it also keeps your data secure from snooping ISPs and criminals monitoring WiFi hotspot traffic. Apple is encrypting your Notes – get Surfshark to encrypt the rest of the data you transmit online.
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