iOS 8 Verdict: Big, Bloated Download But Committed to Security

In late September, thecomputer crafters from Cupertino launched the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Simultaneously, Apple launched its latest mobile operating system, iOS 8. Since the launch, users have complained about its bloated size—almost 6 GB to download over Wi-Fi—and its multiple operational bugs. Despite some of the initial problems with iOS 8, it’s shaping up to be a good product with some great new features. In addition, it cements Apple’s ongoing commitment to security and privacy.


How Apple Protects User Data

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently wrote in a statement, “We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.” Under his leadership, Apple has consistently refused to share user datawith the NSA or other government agencies. In fact, iOS 8 goes a step further by preventing Apple from bypassing an iPhone’s passcode. Apple, as a company, can’t access user data at all.


In addition, Apple’s new mobile payment system, Apple Pay, doesn’t store user credit card information on Apple’s servers. Instead, it assigns a device authorization token to every user’s iPhone. Instead of sending credit card numbers for payment, Apple Pay authorizes transactions with the device authorization token. This feature makes Apple Pay even more secure than using a physical magnetic stripe credit card.

Even with these features, Apple devices aren’t invulnerable to attackers. Last year, for example, Apple released an iOS 7 upgrade (7.0.6) that fixed a faulty SSL validation process. Although there are no widely used antivirus products for iOS devices, most security experts recommend antivirus for Mac protection on any Apple laptop or desktop. Also, any time that Apple releases a software update, users should download it to get the latest security features.

How to Download iOS 8 Without Deleting iPhone Data

When iPhone and iPad users clicked on Software Update to download iOS 8, many discovered that they had no room on their devices for Apple’s latest mobile operating system. Because they didn’t want to delete songs from iTunes, apps, or photos on their devices, they decided not to bother with the download and to keep using iOS 7. By refusing to download the update, iOS users put their data at risk. Fortunately, a workaround using iTunes completes the iOS 8 update without requiring major file deletions:

  • Update to iTunes 11.4. Open iTunes, click the iTunes tab and then click “Check for Updates” to download the latest version. Users that already have iTunes 11.4 can proceed to the next step.
  • Backup the device. Plug the iPhone or iPad into a Mac using a USB cable. Then, save a backup copy on the Mac’s hard drive.
  • Perform the update. Click “Download and Update” within the pop-up windows that indicates a new version of the mobile OS is available. The process requires 1.1 GB of disc space and takes about an hour. Alternatively, people that need to use their devices in the near future can click “Download Only” to download iOS 8 and install it later.
  • Complete setup. Swipe to unlock the device screen, enter the passcode, and follow the instructions to complete the iOS 8 setup.

The Simplest Step of All

The simplest step to keeping an iOS device secure is to enable Touch ID or set a passcode. For people with iPhone 5s and iPhone 6, Touch ID allows users to lock their iPhones using their fingerprints for identification. Although Touch ID on iPhone 5s had its problems, researchers say that iPhone 6 has a better fingerprint sensor.Spoofed fingerprints don’t easily fool it, and it doesn’t incorrectly reject genuine fingerprints.

For iPad users and iPhone users with older models, user should enable passcode protection if they haven’t already. Under the Settings menu, users can tap “Passcode” to set a passcode for the device’s lock screen. Without a passcode or Touch ID, data is vulnerable not only to attackers but also to government snooping.

Keeping iOS Data Safe

Apple provides a number of security tools for its customers to use. However, to reap the benefits, customers actually have to enable the tools. Downloading iOS 8 promptly and setting Touch ID or passcode protection will enable users to protect iPhone and iPad data.At the same time, purchasing antivirus for Mac keeps laptop and desktop computers safe and secure.


iPhone user image by Paris Buttfield-Addison from Flickr Creative Commons

iPhone passcode screenshot  image by Jacqueline Lee from public domain