Reports from security firms are usually to be taken with a grain of salt, however, a report today from BitDefender highlights how important Apple’s data isolation feature of iOS is. In the new release of iOS 6 that’s soon coming, users will get a prompt whenever they are using an application that wants to access data such as contacts, calendars, reminders, or photos. Till then, though, BitDefender claimed that around 18.6% of the 65,000 app included in it’s study still access the user’s address book data, while 41% track the users location.
Some even more troubling news, is that only 57.5% of those apps encrypt the data. MobileEntertainment quotes BitDefender Chief Security Researcher Catalin Casoi about the issue:
It is worrying stored data encryption on iOS apps is low and location tracking is so prevalent. Without notification of what an app accesses, it is difficult to control what information users give up… “We see a worrying landscape of poor user data encryption, prevalent location tracking and silent, unjustified, Address Book access.
After an outcry from many, Apple promised that they would begin to implement a stronger security of privacy in iOS. However, in the most recent iOS 6 change log there is the beginning of a large about of security measure being taken. Here is part of the “Security” section of the release notes:
In iOS 6, the system now protects Calendars, Reminders, Contacts, and Photos as part of Apple’s data isolation privacy initiative.
Users will see access dialogs when an app tries to access any of those data types. The user can switch access on and off in Settings > Privacy.
There are APIs available to allow developers to set a “purpose” string that is displayed to users to help them understand why their data is being requested.
There are changes to the EventKit and Address Book frameworks to help developers with this feature..
So as you can see, Apple is taking measures to work on this, and you can expect your device to be much better at handling privacy come this fall.
What do you think? Should Apple send out a sooner fix, or is it okay to wait for iOS 6? What do you think of the steps they’re taking? Let us know in the comments.