If you’re running iOS 17 on your iPhone, double-check your privacy settings because they might have just changed without your permission.
This word of warning comes from Mysk, a pair of iOS developers and cybersecurity researchers, on X (the platform formerly known as Twitter). They claim upgrading to iOS 17 may reactivate Significant Locations plus iPhone Analytics on your mobile device if they were turned off prior to downloading the update.
Significant Locations is a software tool that tracks the “places you have recently been, as well as how often and when you [visit] them”. The data is used to provide “app recommendations, Memories in the Photos app, among other things”, according to 9To5Mac. The feature is end-to-end encrypted meaning Apple doesn’t have access. However, Mysk states this data “can [still] be abused as they record detailed information about the [places] you visit frequently.”
iPhone Analytics, on the other hand, does directly give Apple information about your device. It provides data on “performance statistics”, how you use your iPhone, and how you use certain apps, among other things. It’s meant to “help Apple improve and develop its products”; although as Mysk points out, security experts recommend you turn it off.
It’s unknown what’s causing this issue. But there is some good news. 9To5Mac states in their report the “vast majority” of users are unaffected. They won’t experience any “unusual activity.” Apple also told the publication it is currently investigating the situation.
Until a patch is rolled out, Mysk strongly advises iOS 17 users disable both features by first going to the Privacy & Security section of the iPhone Settings mode. Then go to Location Service, and finally tap System Services. You’ll find the two there. It appears this is a one-time occurrence. They won’t reactivate a second time.
🚨PSA: iOS 17 turns these sensitive location options back on. If you have disabled significant locations as well as adding your location information to your iPhone analytics before upgrading to iOS 17, iOS 17 will turn the options on as shown in the screenshot.While significant… pic.twitter.com/ROVEgPqw08September 23, 2023
At least this problem is easily solved even if it is concerning that some of your privacy protections can be turned off due to an apparent development mishap. iPhones may be super secure 99 percent of the time, but the one percent chance of your information being collected when you assume it's not is frustrating.
We recommend taking your safety to the next level. Be sure to check out TechRadar’s list of the best iPhone VPN for 2023 to learn how you can start improving your online security.
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Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.