Join Nick Brazzi for an in-depth discussion in this video Working with app privacy permissions, part of Learning iPhone and iPad Security (2015).
- App permissions are important because they give you the control to decide what information can be accessed by the apps that you use. You may not want an app developer to have access to your address book, for example. But, it's not just about giving access to the people who made the apps. Since so many apps are used for communication and sharing over social networks, app permissions can protect you from accidentally sharing information with other people. Let's use Facebook as an example, because it's an extremely popular app.
I already have Facebook setup and installed here. Let's say I want to share a picture on Facebook. To do that, I would hit the photo button here, and now I get a message. Now, in a moment, iOS is going to ask me about permissions, and this is basically a message being shown by the Facebook app asking me to give permissions in this window that's about to pop up in a moment. So, Facebook is asking for access to my photo library, and when I hit "Continue", this is the message that's generated by iOS.
It's saying that the Facebook app is trying to access my photo library, and it's giving me the opportunity to grant that permission or not. If I hit "Don't Allow", then this app will not have access to my photo library. But I do want to give permission so I'll hit "OK", and now I can see all of the photos that I've taken with my iPhone or saved to my iPhone. I can choose the photo that I want, I'll hit "Done", and I could post this in this Facebook post. Now I don't want to actually post this, so I'll hit "Cancel", I'll say "Yes, Delete".
Or, I might want to tag my location in a post. iOS devices have the ability to find your location. iPhones have built-in GPS and other iOS devices can find your location if you're connected to a wi-fi network. If I do a status update here, and I want to tag my location to this status update, I just hit the location button at the bottom of the text field, and again, Facebook is going to ask me to enable Location Services, so I'll hit this button, and this is just a little precursor, it's explaining what I can do with Location Services, I'll hit "OK", and now I get the message from iOS telling me that the Facebook app is trying to use my location.
I can allow this or not, so I'm going to say "Allow", and this is just the way Facebook works, it gives me some locations near where I am so I can tag my Facebook post with a location nearby. So I'm just going to cancel out of this one as well. But apps all work differently and use information like this in different ways. Let's take a look at the Facebook Messenger app. If I go into this, I've got some existing conversations, and if I tap on one of these, let's say I'm going to respond to this message, I could tag this conversation with my location.
Which means that every response I send to this person will include my current location. Now, the good news is this is off by default. And I think it's good that this is off by default because this is something you really should be careful with. Do you really want your location information to be sent to every person that you chat with on Facebook? You might not. But if you do, you can turn this on by hitting this little location arrow. It's gonna ask you for permission for this app to use your location, and you can hit "Allow". So now this is on for this conversation.
I can turn it off and on by tapping that location button. But, just because it's on for this conversation does not mean it's on for another conversation. So I can go into this conversation, I can turn it on or off independently for this one. So the way these apps use the permissions are different, but the way they request the permissions are always the same. Even the built-in apps need you to grant permission for private data. So, if I launch the Maps app, which came with my iPhone, and I hit the location button, it's still gonna ask for my permission to access my location and I can hit "Allow", and it'll be all set.
But what about when you grant permission to an app, but you want to change your mind later. To do that, we go into Settings, scroll down a bit. I'm looking for Privacy. From here, you can see a list of all of the different types of information that you can control permissions on. And if you tap any of these categories, you can see all of the apps that have requested permission to access this data. And you can go into any of these apps and disable or enable those permissions. So here are the apps that have requested Photos, and if I go over to Location, these are all the apps that have requested location.
Inside of Location, it works a little bit differently. If I tap on one of these, I can choose "Never", I can allow it to use my location when I'm using the app, or I can allow it to use location whenever. So, I'm gonna hit "Back", and "Back". Now there's some really important categories for you to monitor here. Do you want an app to have access and the ability to share your location? Well we saw that, that's Location Services. Do you want an app to be able to upload your photos? That's the Photos category.
Do you want an app to be able to turn on your microphone and record audio? That option is here as well. I currently don't have any apps requesting that. So, I recommend you take a look through all these different categories and get familiar with which apps are using which permissions. Now, Location Services is one of the more sensitives pieces of private data. And it's interesting that if you go into the Privacy settings for Location Services, there's an option here at the top to turn off Location Services entirely.
This will make it so that no app ever has the ability to access your location. In some other movies in this chapter, we'll go more in depth into some other location privacy settings. But for now, I'm just gonna cancel this, I don't want to turn that off. I trust most of the apps that I use to access my private data appropriately. But that's usually because I understand those apps, and I know how and when they are able to use my photos, or my location, or whatever. But there are some apps that I just don't trust, so I'm a little more careful.
Privacy permissions are all about giving you complete control so that you can make informed decisions yourself.
- Protecting passwords
- Keeping iOS and apps up to date
- Enabling locks
- Locating and disabling a lost device
- Adjusting app privacy permissions
- Installing malware-free apps
- Erasing a device—or preventing it from being erased