Each time you log onto your computer and surf the world wide web, you’ve probably noticed advertisements similar to something you’ve recently purchased or searched. Maybe you looked up a set of luggage for a trip you’re planning in the spring, and now every website you visit is flashing images of suitcases and handbags your way. Did you ever wonder just how much data your computer shares about you, and how secure it is?
This is how most operating systems work these days – tracking everything you do so that advertisements can be targeted to your current interests. But all that constant tracking of your data and whereabouts can be unnerving for some people, especially when they use their smartphones and tablets to store sensitive information, like credit card data.
According to a new update on the website that explains Apple’s Approach to Privacy, when you scour the internet on your iPhone or iPad, the data collected is not used in the traditional manner, and the level of security invoked is far higher than the generally accepted standards.
“The most personal technology must also be the most private.
“As you add photos, messages, contacts, and credit cards to your Apple devices, they become more personal. So we design innovative ways to protect that data. And we build powerful safeguards into our operating systems, our apps, and the devices themselves. Because the things you rely on every day should keep your personal information safe.”
Protecting your Information on iPhone / iPad
Each time you send information on your Apple device, whether you’re ordering from your favorite pizza restaurant or sending a photo to a friend, personal information about you is being sent across the virtual airwaves. Apple uses sophisticated encryption technologies to ensure that data cannot fall into the wrong hands. 256-bit SSL and TLS encryption is built into iOS, and also exists on Safari and Mac’s FireVault.
What exactly is encryption? Remember the movie ‘The Matrix’, with all those green symbols streaming down the computer screen like digitized rain? That’s basically what your data looks like in transmission, but even more randomized (technology has advanced 16 year since then, after all). So good luck reading that!
Apple iPay Account Protection
Each time a user adds a credit or debit card to their Apple Pay account, the card’s information is not stored in the Apple Pay Store, nor on the iPhone or iPad device, or backed up on any Cloud server.
Apple explained that instead, “a unique Device Account Number is created, encrypted in such a way” that even Apple can’t decrypt it. That number is stored in the Secure Element, and is “walled off from your iOS device and Apple Watch”.
Read more about Privacy on your Apple iOS Device
Privacy and Personalization Coexist on Apple
Siri and Dictation tools are among user favorites in Apple devices, but to use them, they must track information about the user. Siri learns about you as you ask more questions, and Dictation adjusts to your level of pronunciation. When you ask ‘How’s the weather?’, your location is encrypted and sent to Apple to provide a correct response.
The data is stored by Apple to better serve the user, but can be instantly deleted by simply turning off Location Services and turning it back on. The same can be done with Siri and Dictation by simply turning them off and on again, but the apps will have to “learn you” all over again.
When you use the News app on Apple iOS devices, the stories you read will affect the ads you see in News. “The more you read, the more personalized the News app becomes”, says Apple. But the ad-targeting service does not exist outside the News app. Therefore if you read a story about Adam Levine, you might see ads for his clothing line in the News app, but you won’t see them when you surf the web on Safari.
Read more about how Apple Respects your Privacy
Sharing Information with Developers
A big concern for some users is what kind of information their Apple iOS device might be sharing with third parties and developers. Apple is a meticulous curator of the iStore and rigorously examines each app created by a developer to ensure it works in the exact manner as the description entails, and within the iStore guidelines.
Many apps will seek to access a user’s information in some way, such as their location or contacts. All apps are required to ask the user for permission to access information, and specifically list which information they desire access to. The user can change the permission settings at any time after accepting.
Apple said it also takes strict measure to “make sure that there are certain types of data on your device that apps simply can’t access, and that there is no way for an app to ask for complete access to all of your data. We were the first to provide this level of security, and we will continue to build strong safeguards into our platforms.”
Other installed helpers, like HealthKit, HomeKit, CloudKit and CarPlay, include specialized security features to ensure your personal information and location are never shared or accessible outside the app.