Let’s start with the bad news: big phone companies and government law enforcement are struggling against each other for control of your phone. You could go back to short-wave radio like a lot of construction workers. But what about long distance and video chat? You might not be able to do much beneath the feet of two battling giants but this article hopes to make you aware of this situation by looking at Apple’s present iPhone security.
According to Apple, iOS uses native operating system disk encryption. That means everything you do on your phone – text, email, pictures, etc. – can’t be read by anyone except you. They also say they refuse to add a ‘backdoor’ into any of their products: there is no secret access, or if there it is not known even by most folks inside Apple. That also goes for iCloud; everything gets sent encrypted and saved encrypted on their servers. So is it possible to get anything off a phone at all without your actual passcode?
Enter hackers. Their ways are unconventional, unexpected, and sometimes unethical. But they earn a living like everyone else. They range from outright criminals to respected security experts and everything in between. In any case, they pose a threat to any single organization desiring an iron grip over technology. Many times they become mercenaries hired to subvert whoever has the strongest advantage. Over the past few years Apple has gained just that, thus driving hackers to the aide of government agencies.
Law enforcement agencies at the state and national level are paying thousands of dollars to private companies to hack a handful of phones at a time. The FBI has alluded that they have millions of dollars to spend just on hacking iPhones alone, even seeking the help of companies in foreign countries to hack Apple’s ‘designed in the USA’ phones. Seeking a less expensive route, Police themselves have started to resort to using fingers and faces of dead bodies to get past Touch ID and Face ID on the phones they left behind.
In summary: as consumers our phones are trapped in between a tug-of-war between the powers that be. Let’s mention a few tips for your safety. First, change your PIN to something besides 1111 or 1234. Next, take time to read what permissions apps are using before you install them: it takes just a few moments, but you may decide not to install a Solitare game that says it needs access to a network and to files on your phone. As a final piece of advice: be sure to fully erase your phone before selling back to a shop or anyone else.
And the good news? It’s that when you stay aware and take proper precautions like what was mentioned above, using your phone is still pretty safe.