There’s a good chance that you’re among the growing group of internet and technology users concerned about their data.
If that sounds like you, you’ll probably be happy to know that iOS 12 and macOS Mojave are packed with security and privacy features.
Here’s what you need to know.
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Privacy and user data are undoubtedly hot topics right now. We’re currently in the midst of data scandals, growing privacy conversations, and backlashes against high-profile tech companies who collect user data.
Some of those companies include Facebook and Google, who leverage user data for ad targeting and other purposes. But not Apple.
As a device-maker for most of its history, the Cupertino tech giant has never been particularly interested in user data.
In fact, Apple has shown a rather unique commitment to protecting its users’ sensitive information.
Apple CEO Tim Cook even took a shot at “free” online services earlier this year. At a town hall event in Chicago with MSNBC and Recode, Cook told Apple users that they were not “the product.”
“You are our customer. You are a jewel, and we care about the user experience, and we’re not going to traffic in your personal life,” Cook said.
And Federighi doubled-down on that promise at WWDC ’18, simply stating that “we believe your private data should stay private.”
New Security & Privacy Features of iOS 12 & macOS Mojave
But Apple is doing more than just “talking the talk” — it’s putting its money where its mouth is. More than just words, that commitment showed up in a slew of announced software updates at today’s keynote.
New API-Level Protections
The way macOS works now, apps need to ask for explicit permission before accessing certain kinds of data or features.
This, obviously, is a great boon for privacy. For example, an app simply can’t track your current location unless you’ve given it permission to do so.
macOS Mojave takes that protection a step further by introducing explicit permission requirements for the Microphone and Camera.
In other words, an app won’t be able to use your Mac’s built-in mic or camera without getting your approval first.
That same protection goes for app access to sensitive data. Apps will need permission before accessing your message history, Safari data, mail database, Time Machine backups, iTunes device backups, Locations and Routines and more.
Third-Party Tracker Blocking
You might not know this, but those social media “like” and “share” icons you see littering many websites nowadays can track you.
Facebook, for example, collects some data from these “social plugins,” even if you’re logged out — or you don’t have a Facebook account at all.
And, worryingly, you don’t even have to click on these icons for them to work and harvest certain data.
But Apple is putting an end to that with macOS Mojave and iOS 12. The new software includes a version of Safari with enhanced intelligent tracking prevention.
When you visit a webpage with these third-party trackers embedded, Safari will now ask you if you’d like to allow the data-gathering.
If you deny that request, then the data trackers won’t work — and your data won’t be collected.
Both iOS 12 and macOS Mojave are introducing new protections that fight against “fingerprinting.”
Basically, it’s a common practice that firms use to identify your unique smartphone or computer based on a variety of factors — from the fonts or plug-ins you have installed to the device’s configuration data.
But Apple’s new suite of updaters will essentially anonymize your Mac or iOS device.
Apple is doing this by nixing legacy plug-ins, only making native fonts visible to trackers, and simplifying the viewable system information data available to websites and tech companies.
In the words of Apple SVP Craig Federighi, “your Mac will look more like everyone else’s Mac.”
Password Auditing and Management
Apple actually didn’t announce this addition onstage at WWDC ’18, but it is important enough to warrant inclusion.
Basically, in addition to the standard Keychain password manager, macOS Mojave will include a baked-in password auditor.
For one, this system will keep all of your passwords stored securely across all of your devices.
But the platform will also flag reused passwords. It’ll then let users easily replace them with much stronger, randomly generated codes at the push of a button.
Using strong passwords is one of the most basic things a user can do to increase their privacy and security. And with macOS Mojave, Apple is taking steps to guide users in the right direction.
Mike is a freelance journalist from San Diego, California.
While he primarily covers Apple and consumer technology, he has past experience writing about public safety, local government, and education for a variety of publications.
He’s worn quite a few hats in the journalism field, including writer, editor, and news designer.