Online Privacy Tips for the iPhone

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Apple wants to track your behavior for their iAds advertising platform. It’s clear that they not only tried to bury this setting, but also don’t allow you to completely turn off ad tracking. Nonetheless, iOS is far better at protecting privacy than competing mobile operating systems. Your identity is protected with an IDFA — identifier for advertisers. This is an anonymous number. Advertisers will not be able to figure out who you are. When you limit ad tracking, only IDFA tracking is halted. iOS apps have other methods of ad tracking, however, Apple is phasing these out. Eventually, you will be able to turn off all ad tracking.

You may want to disable wi-fi when you take your iPhone out in the world. There are new technologies, such as Euclid, which track your consumption patterns while you are shopping. Although the data they gather is anonymous, some people do not want surveillance of their shopping habits. Euclid allows users to opt out of their service. Simply go to this page on your iPhone and follow the instructions. There are other companies that use your iPhone’s wi-fi capabilities to gather consumer behavior data. If you require absolute privacy, simply turn off wi-fi (Settings > Wi-Fi).

Web Browsing

There are many web browsers for iOS, however, Safari has the largest market share of all mobile web browsers, regardless of operating system. Chrome is also popular. This article discusses privacy settings for Safari and Chrome.

Safari for iOS offers Private Browsing. Navigate to Settings > Safari and turn on Private Browsing. Some search engines can still gather information with Private Browsing activated. To further protect your browsing experience, set Accept Cookies to “Never” and turn off JavaScript.

Safari for iPhone private browsing

Safari for iPhone turn off JavaScript

You should only do this when you require privacy. Altering these settings will impact your web browsing experience. If you turn off JavaScript, it will disable the technology that powers dynamic web pages. Disabling cookies will prevent user preferences, such as login information, from persisting.

Chrome users can adjust privacy settings within the app. Tap on the menu button.

Chrome for iPhone menu button

From the menu, tap on Settings > Privacy. Chrome for iOS, unlike its desktop version, doesn’t have a private or “incognito” mode. You need to clear the cache and history. Chrome has a “Do Not Track” mode, which doesn’t seem to offer much protection:

Chrome for iPhone Do Not Track

“Do Not Track” mode is part of an emerging web standard. It sends headers to a web server requesting that the user not be tracked. In time, this emerging standard will have widespread adoption.

Search engines also track your online behavior. You can search with more anonymity by signing out. There are also new search engines gaining popularity out of privacy concerns. Duck Duck Go is a popular alternative.

Email

Email is one of the least secure internet technologies. Web browsers have SSL and privacy modes. File transfers (FTP) offer iron-clad security options. But when you send and receive email, it can be easily intercepted. People who work in health care know this all too well. You are forbidden from sending any health information over email. This is actually a violation of the federal law known as HIPAA. For most people, a hacker intercepting email would not be the end of the world.

PGP, a tool for email encryption, has been around for some time. Most people do not use it, because it is fairly cumbersome. Unlike SSL, which is used on secure websites, PGP requires some user intervention. (continue…)

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