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Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Be Cyber Smart - New Security Features in iOS/iPadOS 15

October 04, 2021

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month!

Hosted by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCSA), the overarching theme of this month is to encourage individuals and organizations to “own their role in protecting their part of cyberspace, stressing personal accountability and the importance of taking proactive steps to enhance cybersecurity”. In addition to this overarching theme, each week of this month will focus on a different aspect of cybersecurity and will include some recommended action items from ITS to help keep your part of cyberspace as secure as possible!

Our theme this week is Be Cyber Smart.

What does it mean to be “Cyber Smart”? Essentially, it means taking simple actions to keep our digital lives secure. These simple actions may seem trivial in the beginning, but they lay a solid foundation for improving the security of your devices and accounts long-term.

Arguably the most simple and effective action for keeping devices secure is to apply updates as soon as possible after they are released. Not only does this prevent your device from being exposed to potential security threats that are patched in the latest release, but also allows you to be proactive and take advantage of new security features offered by the developers!

A recent example of this is Apple’s release of iOS/iPadOS 15. Released on September 20th, this latest update for the iPhone and iPad platform comes with some exciting new security features. Outlined below are my favorites.

  1. iCloud Private Relay
      icloud private relay
    • Alongside their new iCloud+ service, iCloud Private Relay is a new service that hides your IP address and browsing activity from websites and network providers (including Apple), making it so that any information shared over a browsing session cannot be tied back to you. This is accomplished via a two-step process involving both Apple and a third-party partner where each involved party has only part of the information contained in the browser session. Since this information is “de-linked”, neither Apple nor the partner company has a complete picture of the browser session.
    • For more details on enabling/disabling the feature as well as how to adjust some of the settings to your preference, see the following links:
  1. Hide My Email
    hide my email
    • The Hide My Email service allows users to create unique, random emails addresses that forward to a separate personal mailbox. A use case for this feature is when an online store asks you to sign-up for an account to make a purchase, you can use a separate email address to do so, hiding your real email address from the merchant. Getting a lot of spam after making the purchase? You can quickly and easily delete the email address at any time to put a stop to it.
    • For more details regarding this feature, please review the links below:
  1. App Privacy Report (more functionality coming soon)
    app privacy report
    • With App Privacy Report, Apple is now allowing users to “Record App Activity”, which allows user to see which permissions have been used by an app (such as camera, location, contacts, etc.) as well as how many times/how long ago the information was accessed. This feature will be fully rolled out in a later iOS 15 update, as the privacy report right now only allows users to export the data to a file format known as JSON. Still, you can proactively enable this feature now to be able to take advantage of the functionality once it is released.
    • You can enable App Privacy Report by going to “Settings” -> “Privacy” -> “Record App Activity”.
      record app activity

These are only a few of the new features that have been included in the latest version of iOS/iPadOS! Additional features are highlighted in the links below:

You can update to iOS/iPadOS 15 by following the instructions linked here.

Thanks for reading, and Happy Cybersecurity Awareness Month!