The iPhone has consistently been trying to incorporate more and more tools over the years to the point where it is starting to resemble a Swiss Army knife. For example, apple announced in 2015 their plan to include the incorporation of IDs and driver’s licenses in their phones. The Lastest addition to the list is passports, which are under consideration by the post-Brexit UK. But is this really such a good idea? Or will it be a significant risk for users?
The IDs Idea
In 2015 Apple announced its plans to incorporate IDs and driver’s licenses in a digital format, which they plan to start incorporating in 2024 fall across many countries. With this step, you’ll have everything you need on your iPhone (and even the things you might never need), including credit cards, door keys, car keys, IDs, and driver’s license.
Apple’s next plan includes passports, which has had a controversial reaction from everyone after hearing the news. However, the UK had a positive response to the suggestion and is considering to be the first to apply it.
But is using a digital form of your passport and IDs safe? Or, are convenience and practicality more important than safety and security?
Apple’s Safety Statistics
One of the features that make Apple’s iOS stand out compared to their Android counterpart is the safety features and the fact that the iOS is less likely to get a virus. However, during the last few years, there has been a growth in the number of viruses targeting iOS and macOS users.
There has also been an increase in the number of Apple product users who are now relying on antivirus software for safety. According to Statista, in 2015, approximately 50% of Mac users used an antivirus. While no new studies have been conducted to see the change in Mac antivirus users, there are other indicators that show users’ concerns.
Comparing the previously mentioned data with the number of new arising threats shows a bumpy road ahead of Apple users. According to Atlas VPN statistics, the number of new threats that had developed back in 2015 was approximately 33,000. In 2024, the number of new arising threats was around 674,000 news threats, which amounts to an increase of 1092% the previous year.
This shows how during the Covid pandemic, the focus on hacking Apple products rose considerably, and in turn, how the need for antivirus has also increased. But does that mean Apple products are not secure enough to hold such vital information?
The Secure Enclave
A method Apple uses to ensure the most vital of data doesn’t get breached is the secure enclave, which functions as a separate storage system from the main kernel. (A kernel is the central part of an OS that manages operations of your device). This means in the event your Apple device is hacked, the hacker won’t get access to the separately encrypted kernel.
Does that mean total security, though?
Although it means better security, chances are it’s still possible to lose data.
Amnesty International delivered a report about the insecurity of Apple’s iMessages. Bill Marczak, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab, said, “Apple has a MAJOR blinking red five-alarm-fire problem with iMessage security.”
According to Amnesty International’s report, hackers used the software tool Pegasus created by NSO Group to access and alter and replicate the data of 37 iPhone users.
The NSO Group (standing for Niv, Shalev, and Omri, the group’s founders) claims that they only use their software tool Pegasus to “investigate terrorism and crime” and that even after they are done with a device, they never leave any traces behind. However, according to the Forensic Methodology Report done by Amnesty International, none of these statements is true.
“Amnesty International’s Security Lab has performed in-depth forensic analysis of numerous mobile devices from human rights defenders (HRDs) and journalists around the world. This research has uncovered widespread, persistent, and ongoing unlawful surveillance and human rights abuses perpetrated using NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.” (Amnesty International)
So, are Apple’s security and data protection as strong and secure as they claim them to be? Not exactly.
That’s why having extra layers of protection for precaution is needed. This extra layer can be achieved using Antivirus software and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). For even more protection, password managers can protect you in multiple ways, such as multi-factor authentication and encrypted vaults.
Using these tools falls in line with the recommendations of Cybersecurity and Security Agency experts. However, a major issue remains which product is best to choose?
Thankfully a set of comprehensive reviews concerning cybersecurity-related products can be found relaying multiple recommendations that fall in line with Cybersecurity experts at Several.com and from the CSIA and Harvard cybersecurity department to help you choose.
Antivirus protects your device, network, and system by creating a firewall around them. This firewall serves as a literal wall to block any potential virus or malware from going beyond it.
Further, the firewall develops an intrusion detection system. This system runs regular and continuous scans in the background of your device for any possible intrusion. If there is an intruder, the Antivirus will notify you about that and block the intruder from getting to your device.
A VPN will also give you security with its encryption. Good VPNs usually use AES-256-bit encryption. This encryption is so strong that governments, military bases, and banks utilize it to protect their most confidential information.
So, if people move toward using Antivirus software and VPNs, maybe we can achieve the security that we need for the practicality of having everything we need on our phones.
Despite the doubt many might have concerning this step, it will probably be very similar to many previously doubted concepts that came to be. Therefore, rather than fighting the new arising concept, it is better to go with the flow while maintaining caution and protecting yourself.
What do you think? Will passports be replaced entirely with digital copies in the future? Or will this change not pass?