iOS 7: New Security Features


As we’ve documented over the last few days, iOS 7 includes a number of new features and improvements, which Apple didn’t talk about at the WWDC Keynote.

In this article, we take a look at some of new security features and improvements that have been included in iOS 7.

Activation Lock

Currently, the Find My iPhone feature allows you to locate and secure your lost iOS device using the Find My iPhone app on another iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, or by visiting on your computer. It allows you to play a sound for two minutes, lock your missing device with a passcode and send it a message displaying a contact number. You can also protect your privacy by remote wiping the information and media on your lost iOS device and restore it to its factory settings. Unfortunately, it has a major drawback. The thief can turn off your iOS device and restore it to prevent you from using the Find My iPhone features.

iOS 7 includes a new feature called Activation Lock. In iOS 7, turning off Find My iPhone or erasing your device requires Apple ID and password. It will also continue to display the custom message displaying your contact number, even after your device is erased. This should make it a major deterrent for thieves and make the Find My iPhone feature fool proof.


iCloud Keychain

In iOS 7, Safari’s AutoFill feature has been extended to remember account names, passwords, and credit card numbers. Safari will automatically enter them when you visit a site to sign in or shop online. The keychain will also be synced via iCloud to all your iOS devices running iOS 7 and Macs running OS X Mavericks. Apple says the information will be stored using 256-bit AES encryption.


Safari will also be able to generate a unique, hard-to-guess password like password management apps like 1Password. Unfortunately, this feature will be extremely useful only for users who use Safari on their computers and iOS devices. If you prefer using Chrome, then this feature is useless.

Game Center

In addition to the fresh coat of paint for the Game Center app, Apple has included a number of features to prevent cheating in iOS 7. Here’s how Apple plans to clamp down on cheaters (courtesy 9to5Mac):

Firstly, Apple is integrating signed submissions for leaderboard results, allowing it to reject score submissions that it recognizes as being intercepted and tampered with.

Secondly, Apple is introducing new features inside of iTunes Connect to help get rid of spam on leaderboards. Developers can now limit the max scores for leaderboards depending on the limitations of their game. By setting a maximum limit, the spammers with unrealistic scores won’t appear to others on the leaderboards or in Game Center. And if devs ever make a mistake on setting that limit, Apple will store all the scores above the max limit to be restored a later time.

The last thing Apple is doing to stop cheaters is adding new tools to help devs keep an eye out for suspicious activity and manage player activity, such as deleting scores and blocking cheaters, within iTunes Connect.

Easier access to Private browsing

Currently in iOS 6.x.x, the Private browsing feature, which allows you to block websites from tracking your behavior, has to be enabled via the Settings app (Settings -> Safari).

Apple has made this easier in iOS 7 by adding the option to enable or disable Private Browsing feature within the Safari app, either via the new tab view or Bookmarks page.


Per App VPN

VPNs used within organizations allow you to communicate private information securely over a non-private network. So for example: you can configure VPN for your office network to access your work email etc.

iOS 7 extends this functionality and brings support for per app VPN. This means different apps can connect to different VPNs. It’s however not clear how it will work.

Default Data Protection

You may not be aware but you enable data protection when you configure a passcode for your device. Data protection enhances the built-in hardware encryption by protecting the hardware encryption keys with your passcode. It provides an additional layer of protection for your email messages and attachments. Currently, third-party apps have to add support for the feature to protect application data. Under the iOS 7 and Business section on the iOS 7 features webpage, Apple says that iOS 7 will bring default data protection for third-party apps.

Those are the iOS 7 security features we are aware so far. Let us know what you think of these features in the comments.  If you’re a developer and have found any new security features then please do send us an email at [email protected]