iOS 8 was released yesterday. I have it installed on my iPhone 5 and can say that it’s a decent upgrade (LastPass can now fill in my user names and passwords in Safari, which is the highlight of the upgrade for me). But the best feature of iOS 8 is one that doesn’t seem to be getting a lot of coverage:
On devices running iOS 8, your personal data such as photos, messages (including attachments), email, contacts, call history, iTunes content, notes, and reminders is placed under the protection of your passcode. Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data. So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.
Security changes to iOS 8 seem to have made it technically impossible for Apple to fulfill warrants demanding it extract data from a customer device. I’m glad to see Apple taking security against government agents seriously. It also goes to show just how untrusting companies have become towards the government after Snowden released the National Security Agency’s (NSA) dirty laundry. Before then I doubt Apple would have invested resources to ensuring it couldn’t comply with government data requests and it almost certainly wouldn’t have advertised the fact so prominently.
However it is important to keep in mind that the scope of this protection is only on the device itself. If you upload data to iCloud Apple can still comply with any warrants demanding it turn over customer data. So if you value your privacy it’s a good idea to upgrade to iOS 8 and not upload your data to online storage services.