Apple iOS4.2 – What are the security benefits?

Apple released iOS4.2 in late November and it is applicable for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. From a functionality perspective the upgrade provides a lot including the ability to create folders and multitask on the iPad (features previously lacking) plus the AirPlay feature for all three devices that enables streaming of content to the Apple Tv or Airplay enabled features.

These features are intriguing but since this site specializes in information security my primary focus is to discuss the security implications of the iOS4.2 upgrade.

What is the most significant security benefit of iOS4.2?

The Find My iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch application is now available as a free application and this is an important breakthrough because these services typically were subscription only in previous iOS’s via the Mobile Me service. Once the Find My app is installed an owner of one of the devices mentioned above can perform the following security functions:

  • Find the location of a lost device on a map
  • Display a remote message on the device screen (with hope it will be returned to you if found so perhaps offer a reward as incentive)
  • Remotely set a passcode lock so your device and data can not be accessed inappropriately
  • Wipe the device remotely if it is stolen or lost for good and you are not likely to recover it.

These security features are significant and go a long way to help prevent loss of data confidentiality on a loss or stolen device and possibly may even with the recovery of your device itself.

How do you upgrade your iPad or iPhone to iOS4.2?

First back up your data and then connect your iPhone or iPad or Ipod Touch to your computer and load up iTunes and click check for updates. Download and install the upgrade.

How do I activate Find My (iPad/iPhone)?

Here is a nice Apple instruction video showing how to configure your device on Me.Com

* Be sure to set this up right away if you wait until you need the features it will be too late.

What security vulnerabilities are corrected by iOS4.2?

In addition, to the Find My functionality there is a big list of other security vulnerabilities fixed in the iOS upgrade. In scanning the list several of the vulnerabilities mention arbitrary code execution that could lead to a lack of security integrity of the device. If you have not already done so an upgrade to i0S4.2 is highly recommended to close these vulnerabilities and take advantage of the new Find My capabilities. Install it and configure your device on Me.com as soon as possible.

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About Mark Kelly

Information Technology Security Consultant
This entry was posted in iPad Security, IPhone Security and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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