The internet is buzzing about the potential for harm to those who do not upgrade their iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads with Apple’s latest version of its operating system for those devices, iOS 7.0.6.
Briefly, the risk is that hackers have access to communications sent from iOS devices not yet upgraded to version 7.0.6 through a flaw in SSL/TSL (Secure Sockets Layer/ Transport Layer Security) protocol. The function of these protocols is to make the connection between your browser and the websites you access private and secure.
Without that functionality, your access to websites can be viewed by anyone with the expertise to do so. That includes any transaction you now use your iPhone or iPad to complete – think online banking, medical appointments – any sensitive information.
The good news is that this upgrade protects i-Phone/Pad/Pod Touch users (depending on the generation of the device) from the “man-in-the-middle” attacks to which the preceding iOS version exposed users.
The bad news is that users of the Mac OS X remain at risk until Apple releases a fix for that operating system. In the meantime, OS X users are advised to use an internet browser other than Safari, which offers no protection against unwanted online spies.
The buzz is worth heeding. It’s also a reminder that the fabulous tools we take for granted exact a cost from us beyond the monetary price of the device: technology takes attention. The immediate takeaway here is that now is the time to perform system updates for the above-mentioned devices. But lest we upgrade and forget, we may want to consider how we access that wild and fascinating place, the internet, and what our plan for securing our personal data is – and what it should be.
The topic traverses the technical and philosophical realms. Technically, you have additional options. You may, for example, want to set up a VPN (Virtual Personal Network) for your iPhone or smartphone to establish an additional layer of security.
Defining what you’re comfortable with takes deeper thought. Who can see your Facebook updates? Do you want to be tagged in photos your friends post? The speed and complexity of the internet makes it possible for data about every aspect of our lives to propagate like kudzu throughout the wired world, as Comm Lead faculty member and data security expert Shay Colson pointed out in a Flip the Media article last year.
No discussion of digital awareness is complete without the subject of understand the consequences of their online interactions. Few teens fully understand or pay much attention to privacy settings, as this article finds.
It’s a sign of our times that the subject of the latest software/firmware security flaw can lead down a plethora of rabbit holes. There is much to research. Go down those rabbit holes. Be informed – refuse to be a sitting duck.
But first, upgrade your phone.