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Home » Featured, Security

Plugging iPhone’s Privacy Holes

Submitted by on July 3, 2019 – 11:19 am

Many recent publications 1, 2, 3 suggest the iPhone is full of security holes threatening your privacy. The threat seems to be coming not so much from the phone’s operating system, but from the apps, you installed on it.

Indeed, monitoring my iPhone 8+ dormant activity (when recharging or otherwise not in active use) via the firewall, I can see dozens of apps making outbound network connections and transmitting many megabytes of data daily. The information includes my cellular network details, GPS coordinates, accelerometer readings, battery charge level, and much more. Someone out there can tell when I am tossing and turning in my bed. Some of these transmissions are not even encrypted.

Aside from privacy concerns, these transmissions are directly cutting into your bottom line by using up the monthly bandwidth allocation on your cellular or wireless service. I have an unlimited data plan, but, for many people, these unauthorized data transmissions can waste more than half of the monthly bandwidth allowance. If you don’t care about your privacy, surely at least you must care about the balance of your checking account.

As a potential quick fix, I tried the Privacy Pro SmartVPN by Disconnect 4, 5. For a few bucks a month this application provides a fast and reasonably effective VPN service blocking most unauthorize data transmissions. In my experience so far, legitimate user activity on the phone has not been adversely affected. As a bonus, the app will also encrypt your DNS queries and any other unencrypted traffic emanating from your iOS or MacOS devices.

Here’re some screenshots from my phone showing “Privacy Pro’s” results from the past week.

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  1. Gallagher, Sean, and Utc. “Dozens of IOS Apps Surreptitiously Share User Location Data with Tracking Firms.” Ars Technica, 10 Sept. 2018, arstechnica.com/information-technology/2018/09/dozens-of-ios-apps-surreptitiously-share-user-location-data-with-tracking-firms/.  
  2. Stern, Joanna. “iPhone Privacy Is Broken…and Apps Are to Blame.” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 31 May 2019, www.wsj.com/articles/iphone-privacy-is-brokenand-apps-are-to-blame-11559316401.
  3. Fowler, Geoffrey A. “How to Limit iPhone App Tracking.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 28 May 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/05/28/how-limit-iphone-app-tracking/.
  4. Disconnect. “‎Privacy Pro SmartVPN.” App Store, 11 Dec. 2015, itunes.apple.com/us/app/privacy-pro-smartvpn/id1057771839?mt=8.
  5. I am not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, compensated by, or in any way officially connected with the makers of “Privacy Pro SmartVPN”, or any of its subsidiaries or its affiliates.

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