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Apple Unveils Upcoming Privacy and Security Features

Apple on Monday detailed new privacy and security features rolling out to both desktop and mobile users.

Apple patches exploited iOS zero-day

At the 2023 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on Monday, Apple detailed new privacy and security features rolling out to its devices later this year.

Apple’s Safari browser is getting an improved Private Browsing mode, which will lock when not in use, so that users can leave tabs open even if they need to step away from the device.

Safari’s Private Browsing will also deliver advanced tracking and fingerprinting protections, to prevent websites from using the latest technologies to track and identify users, Apple says.

To further protect users’ privacy, Apple’s Messages and Mail applications will remove from URLs any information that websites might use to track users across the internet. Safari’s Private Browsing will remove that information as well.

Apple is also providing developers with new tools to learn more about the data practices of any third-party software development kit (SDK) they might use in their apps.

The tech giant is also expanding Communication Safety, which warns children when receiving or sending photos containing nudity, to also cover videos received or sent using Messages, and is providing developers with a new API to integrate the feature in their applications.

Communication Safety will also cover AirDrops, FaceTime video messages, Contact Posters received via the Phone app, and the Photos picker when choosing content to send. The feature can be enabled or disabled for the child account from the Family Sharing plan. All content is processed on the device, Apple says.

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The same privacy-preserving technology will also power Sensitive Content Warning, an optional feature to help adults avoid nude images or videos received in Messages, an AirDrop, a FaceTime video message, or a Contact Poster in the Phone app.

Users will also be able to share passwords to groups, with anyone in the group being able to add or modify passwords. The functionality is end-to-end encrypted, powered by iCloud Keychain.

Lockdown Mode, which is designed to protect users who may be targeted by mercenary spyware, will deliver “safer wireless connectivity defaults, media handling, media sharing defaults, sandboxing, and network security optimizations” and will also be supported on watchOS.

The tech giant is also tweaking Check In to inform selected contacts when a user “is not making progress toward their declared destination”, is adding an AirDrop feature called NameDrop to allow users to share their contact information by keeping their iPhone close to another, and is adding a Live Voicemail feature to show to the user a live transcription of what a caller leaving a message is saying. 

The new privacy and security features will be included in the free software updates Apple is planning for this fall.

Related: Apple Patches 3 Exploited WebKit Zero-Day Vulnerabilities

Related: Apple Blocked 1.7 Million Applications From App Store in 2022

Related: Apple, Google Propose Standard to Combat Misuse of Location-Tracking Devices

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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