Home > Identity Theft > iOS 8 Wants to Get to Know You Better

Comments 0 Comments

My phone is at rest on my desk, charging. I’ve enabled the new “Hey Siri” feature, which was part of the iOS 8 update. Now, the famous concierge feature that offers the world at the touch of a button is always-already on, listening (as long as it is plugged in). Somehow I’m feeling a bit less safe.

“Hey Siri,” I say, and my phone blinks awake. “You’re creeping me out.”

“After all I’ve done for you?” she replies.

Aptly put, Siri. Our gadgets, apps and wired devices make life a lot easier, connecting the work office to the home office and making seamless innumerable tasks and functionalities that used to require a warm body. The more information our apps and other wired goods gather about us, the more effectively they can guess what we will want or need next.

While a smartphone is light years beyond the many other devices usually considered part of the Internet of Things, our increasingly wired brave new world comes to mind as capabilities expand on multiple fronts. Hewlett-Packard reported earlier this year that nearly three quarters of the products in “The-Internet-of” category are vulnerable.

While Apple doesn’t have a past riddled with breaches, the larger the zone of possibility, the greater the concern should be. With all new things there are wrinkles, and they’re often ironed out after introduction and distribution. In simpler times, that resulted in product recalls and similar inconveniences. Now there is no recall. There’s a software patch. But before the flaw is detected and the update goes out, an army of hackers can mine those glitches for the golden workaround, intent on breaching the best-laid schemes of today’s security pros and grabbing both the glory of cracking the code, and the gold at the end of that cyber-rainbow.

“While the Internet of Things will connect and unify countless objects and systems, it also presents a significant challenge in fending off the adversary given the expanded attack surface,” HP’s Mike Armistead said in the report.

It’s Convenient…and Potentially Dangerous

If we’ve learned anything these past years, it should be that just about anything involving programing and code can be infiltrated, corrupted and hijacked. It’s maddening to return from that Florida vacation to burst pipes because someone you may or may not know hacked the heating system in your house, and it’s terrifying to find nude pictures of yourself online. But that’s really nothing compared to the realization that someone’s wormed their way through your new phone or a network-connected kitchen appliance to your personally identifiable information and committed fraud in your name. Bottom-line: The impossible has now become the possible — and perhaps the inevitable.

The current state of cybersecurity emergency that we find ourselves in should make you at least wonder if your phone, all duded up with its highly evolved operating system and standby listening function, might just allow a third party to eavesdrop on you, and with no indication that it is doing so. That’s precisely the sort of thing hackers try to figure out.

The take-away, if there is one, is that while the iOS 8 upgrade represents a giant leap forward with regard to what you can do with your smartphone, it also expands your “attackable surface.”

Know Your Features and Vulnerabilities

There are a few other features on iOS 8 that fall under the rubric of smart things that expand your attackable surface.

iOS 8 now makes it possible for you to share your location in Messages by simply flicking on the “Send My Current Location” feature. The problem: A phisher sends you a text, and you reply, “Who’s this?” The recipient is a burglar who now knows where you are—let’s say 5 miles from home. The other more mundane issue here is the data you’re giving away—does Apple really need to know your daily schedule better than you do? And what if Apple gets breached?

Another location services feature enhancement in iOS 8 appears on the lock screen of your phone, which now features small icons when you are near a place that Apple thinks you will want to know about. That’s pretty cool, if you feel Apple really “gets” you, but if you’re not sure Cook’s commandos are your soul mates, the feature is: 1.) annoying 2.) creepy 3.) bad for your budget or 4.) all of the above. And once again, should Apple ever suffer a data compromise there will be a whole lot of mineable information about you “out there.”

If you’re OK with sharing a lot of this information – and let’s face it, most of you are – monitoring your financial accounts and credit regularly is the one of the best ways to make sure data thieves haven’t taken the information you’ve willingly provided and use it for their own financial gain. You can pull your credit reports once a year for free at AnnualCreditReport.com, and you can see your credit score for free every month on Credit.com. You are your first line of defense.

As our devices give us ever more potentiality, we must grok the fact that cybercrime is evolving at the speed of light and increasing geometrically. Every scintilla of our personal narrative that we knowingly or unwittingly swap for convenience, pleasure and the “newest, coolest thing” can lead us into an unadulterated nightmare if it falls into the wrong hands. The personal information that we trade for the whiz-bang of the latest killer app—used for marketing campaigns and sales projections—should be a buzz kill. When we use our information to get things, more than ever, it’s important to remember: We’ve become the product and unfortunately, more often than we’d like to admit, the guy who’s making the purchase isn’t our friend.

More on Identity Theft:

This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its partners.

Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team