Apple has introduced something that Android smartphone manufacturers must take a note of it, immediately!
The value of the personal data which a smartphone gets access to is very easily worth way more than the smartphone itself. People are basically carrying around potential security threats right in their hands. While there is no doubt that the functionalities of smartphones are endless, the risks to our personal privacy are very real. Today, there exist numerous ways in which malicious attackers can exploit or steal personal data from your smartphone without you ever getting to know about it. This is why, keeping all these concerns in mind, Apple Inc. has recently unveiled a powerful new security feature that should be present in every single smartphone moving forward into the future. What is it? Let’s find out.
Yesterday, at the 2020 edition of the WWDC aka Worldwide Developers’ Conference, Apple announced some of the most much-needed privacy and security features for the iOS and macOS users.
Among them, the one feature which stood out from the rest is something the company seems to have come up with after being inspired by a well-known feature that has existed on most laptops for quite some time. Apple will now be displaying a small orange indicator near the network signal every time the camera or microphone of iPhone is in use.
This particular feature happens to come at a perfect time because users have slowly been becoming wary of all the ways in which apps try to exploit their privacy. Not too long ago, in the month of November in 2019, Facebook’s iOS app was reported to automatically activating the camera in the background whilst being in use without any notification whatsoever. Though it was later revealed that a bug caused this problem, the prospect of an app having the ability to do so is beyond scary.
A malicious app that is specifically designed to slip past the usual security measures and then record the video and audio of its users without letting them know can wreak a catastrophic amount of havoc. It could lead to the leakage of confidential secrets, harassment, blackmail, and so much more.
This particular vulnerability which Apple wants to put an end to with its new feature dates back several years and is nothing new. In September 2016, when the former FBI Director James Comey was asked if he puts a tape on his webcam, he replied saying yes. Even though many of his colleagues often mocks him for this, he said he always makes sure nobody could infringe his privacy without him knowing.
Also, in the same year itself, a filmmaker named Anthony Van Der Meer released a documentary named ‘Find my Phone’ on Youtube wherein he installed a phone tracking app on his phone and then let someone steal it. After the thief stole it, Anthony went on to document how he could spy on every moment of the thief’s life through the hacked phone’s camera and microphone.
The short film tracked every move of this person, from him brushing his teeth to going to work. It recorded the person grabbing lunch with his co-worker to intimate moments with a loved one as well. This is the ungodly amount of power apps that have access to your camera and microphone wield.
Even further back in 2014, Edward Snowden, the infamous and controversial US Government whistleblower revealed how an NSA program called Optic Nerves back in 2008 was capturing webcam images every five minutes from the video chats of Yahoo users. Thus, after all these years, this particular security feature that has been launched by Apple is a significant step forward when it comes to increasing the security around a user’s privacy in a world wherein almost every gadget can be exploited with ease.
And, if all the above doesn’t convince you about the potential threat your smartphone camera or microphone pose to your personal life, you must remember the incident when Mark Zuckerberg was found using his laptop having its camera and microphone covered.
Trust me, the list is really long!
It’s quite evident that the new security feature introduced by Apple that prominently indicates iPhone user the moment any app starts accessing a camera or microphone is the need of the hour. Unfortunately, despite offering a great degree of security measure, anything similar has never been introduced by any Android smartphone device manufacturer. As Android devices and apps are more vulnerable, such security feature is a selling point for many users. Besides, it would also get Android smartphones a step closer to Apple iPhone in terms of offering users’ data security.
Beyond any doubt, the feature should be made into a standard and be also included in all Android smartphones as soon as possible. Now, it remains to be seen how soon will Android smartphone manufacturers pay heed to this and how soon offer something similar to their customers.