Security updates with iOS 16 and the iPhone 14 lineup

Last week Apple released their latest operating system along with the new lineup of phones. Here is what you should know about the latest security and privacy features of the new software and hardware.

iOS 16

Lockdown Mode

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Lockdown Mode is an extreme, optional protection that should only be used if you believe you may be personally targeted by a highly sophisticated cyber actor. Apple says Lockdown Mode “sharply reduces the attack surface that potentially could be exploited by highly targeted mercenary spyware”

The Lockdown Mode limits contact from people you have never communicated with, disables certain features in Safari that prevent rogue JavaScript code served from malicious websites and blocks the ability for Apple configuration profiles to be installed.

Glacier will recommend enabling Lockdown Mode on a case-by-case basis. All Glacier iPhone users should take Lockdown Mode for a spin to see how it affects your day-to-day usage.

Safety Check

With a tap of a button iOS will sign you out of iCloud on all devices. All incoming messages and FaceTime calls will only be routed to that device, and device location tracking will be disabled. Apple says it worked with NNEDV (National Network to End Domestic Violence), NCVC (National Center of Victims of Crime) and WESNET (Women’s Services Network) to tailor these services to people in abusive relationships.

Safari Passkeys

Passkeys gives users a simple and secure way to sign in without passwords by relying on Face ID to identify you when you sign in to supporting websites and apps. Passkeys replace passwords with a cryptographic entity. Apple says that Passkeys are “always strong and never guessable by a hacker”. 

Passkeys require the use of iCloud Keychain, which Glacier has recommended disabling iCloud syncing for photos, passwords, browsing history and messaging data services. Data stored in iCloud is end-to-end encrypted and protected with two-factor authentication, however this data is still backed to a server the user doesn’t control.

iPhone 14

Emergency SOS

The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro can now send messages via satellite, but only for emergency situations. Apple says Emergency SOS helps connect you to emergency services under exceptional circumstances when no other means of reaching emergency services are available. Emergency SOS messages are encrypted in transit and decrypted by Apple to be passed along to the relevant emergency service dispatcher.

Unfortunately, today this feature doesn’t replace some Glacier’s users' need for backup satellite communications in the event no other means of connection are available.

Emergency SOS is available only in the U.S. (including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and Canada.

A step forward in security

iOS 16 is a major step forward in security and privacy for the iPhone. It’s especially interesting to note that with the introduction of Lockdown Mode, Apple is going public that targeted attacks on Apple devices are a reality, and they’re actively working on providing native tools to prevent attacks and protect their users' safety and privacy.

April 18, 2021
Team Glacier