Think for a moment about the sheer volume of personal information that the average person stores on their phone. Apple’s iPhone, in particular, comes in a number of sizes, with the smallest available for purchase today offering 16GB, and the largest offering 256GB. Regardless of how you choose to look at it, that’s a tremendous amount of space for emails, photos, contact information, bank account records, mobile logins, usernames and passwords, and so much more. If that phone were to fall into the wrong hands, the average person would suffer the type of privacy incident from which it could take years to recover.
Then, when you consider that it’s possible for a phone to “fall into the wrong hands” without ever literally doing so at all, you can begin to understand just why Apples’ recent critical security update was so important.
Apple’s Security Update
Cellphone spying took a particularly dastardly turn when Apple discovered vulnerability in the iOS operating system that makes iPhone owners around the world the target of a “rare, highly expensive spyware” that has been used in many high-profile situations. The spyware was first discovered in August of 2016 after it was used to target the iPhone 6 of a dissident from the United Arab Emirates, Ahmed Mansoor.
Dubbed “Trident,” there is no real indication of how long the malware had been in the wild or how many phones could have been affected. To Apple’s credit, the company issued a software update the following day — iOS version 9.3.5 —in an effort to address these and other recently discovered concerns.
While it’s important to note that this flaw has been addressed in all versions of the iOS operating system from 9.3.5 and onward, it is still possible to have devices running the vulnerable operating system in your possession. If you still have an iPhone 5 and have failed to perform updates on a regular basis, for example, your device could easily fall victim to this and similar types of attacks. The importance of regularly checking to make sure that you have the latest version of the operating system that your device can run is something that cannot be overstated often enough.
Mobile Security: The Facts
Apple is hardly the first mobile device manufacturer to put a premium on mobile security. Nearly every smartphone and tablet manufacturer releases software updates on a regular basis designed not only to add features and to improve performance, but to address recently identified security issues that could pose a huge problem for millions of people around the world.
Consider the following statistics to get an accurate idea of just how important mobile security truly is:
- According to a study conducted by the Breach Level Index, there were 1,023,108,267 individual records compromised from mobile devices in 2014 alone.
- During the same year, Consumer Reports estimates that approximately 5.2 million smartphones were lost or stolen across the country.
- Skycure estimates that, on average, roughly 25 percent of all mobile devices encounter at least one threat (such as an intrusion attempt) on a monthly basis.
- Gartner estimates that approximately 75 percent of the apps designed for mobile platforms would fail even the most basic security tests.
- Since 2011, an approximately 155 percent increase has occurred each year in the total number of malware targeting all mobile device platforms, including smartphones and tablets.
Cellphone spying is a very real concern, and unfortunately, it’s a situation that is going to get a lot worse before it has a chance to get better. Making an effort to always download the latest operating system update for devices like Apple’s iPhone as soon as they become available is one of the best ways to guarantee that your confidential information, business or personal in nature, stays that way in the digital world in which we now live.