iOS 10: How Secure is Apple's Closed-Ended Operating System?

Buying an iPhone means trading off on a lot of brilliant open-ended features offered by Google’s smartphone counterpart. My own personal inclinations aside, there is nothing wrong in saying that an Android-based smartphone such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 or the celebrated Google Pixel is considerably more innovative and powerful than an iPhone 7. However, the tradeoff is generally worth it for Apple users for one specific reason: security. When it comes to protecting the privacy of its users, there’s no matching Apple’s extremely closed-ended platform. If there is one thing that Apple is known for, it is fortifying their devices against all possible attacks, even if it is at the cost of features and innovation. But that doesn’t make your iPhone absolutely impossible to crack. In fact, there are quite a few vulnerabilities that, if left unchecked, could wreak massive havoc. In here, we will try to go through each and every one of the security features available on iOS 10.3.1, and even share a few tips to make your device safer.

Robust Data Encryption

At the heart and center of its vigilant security system lies data encryption, a feature that protects your private data from falling in the hands of interested third party viewers, be it hackers sitting at home or robbers in physical possession of your phone. Apple provides you with three separate ways to encrypt your iOS device, a password, a pin code and a thumbprint. As of iOS 10.3.1, Apple is now displaying a prompt to each and every user asking them to also turn on two-factor authentication for their device, a feature clearly designed to protect your phone from falling into the hands of intelligent third-party hackers. Apple also advises you to set up your device to automatically erase all data upon ten failed login attempts, while also asking you to keep secure backups of the same data on iCloud. Keep in mind, however, that in the event that you fail to configure these options, your iPhone is left vulnerable to a wide range of attacks, and third-party breachers can easily gain access.

Anti-Malware

Let us just begin by busting the age-old myth that iOS devices are somehow immune to malware. They are not. They are very much like any other operating system-based device, just as vulnerable to malicious attacks from third-party hackers. Well, maybe not just as much. Unlike open-ended systems such as Android, Apple’s iOS comes with security features inbuilt into the system. While Android devices must depend on third-party antivirus software to provide security, Apple devices ship with several layers of anti-malware built in. Further, the constant updates and exclusive app store, which we will be coming to shortly, do much to reduce the risk of a malware infection in iOS devices. 

Find My Phone

A feature that has existed in Apple devices since 2009, iOS devices come built-in with the much-needed feature of using iCloud to remotely access your stolen device, allowing you to locate your device on a map, lock it remotely or erase all data for additional security. The Find My Phone feature on Apple devices can be easily accessed by visiting iCloud.com and selecting your stolen device from the list of connected devices. While counterparts to Find My Phone are now available on Android devices as well, the feature was only added to Google-run smartphones as late as 2013. That is not to say that they are any less efficient, however.