Apple, adding a new Privacy icon to iOS and macOS to prevent iCloud password phishing

In forthcoming versions of iOS and macOS, Apple plans to bring out a new Privacy icon that will appear at whenever time the company’s own first-party apps asks for your personal information. Already, Apple has a lot of privacy safeguards and transparency measures in place through both operating systems that alert users when apps are requesting their location, calendar, photo library, contacts, and so on. But this new icon is seemingly for a specific purpose: designed to thwart phishing attempts.

In October, a blog post by developer Felix Krause received some degree of attention when he demonstrated how easy it would be for a duplicitous developer to design a password prompt just like Apple’s own.

Occasionally, it’s not directly obvious why your iPhone requests your iCloud password at a given moment. Consumers have sometimes been prompted at seemingly random times, in that way, there would be a high likelihood of falling for a bogus password request if a malicious app succeeds slipping through the company’s App Store approval process.

This Privacy icon gets around that by appearing at the system level – likely in the top menu bar – when it’s definitely Apple asking you to enter a password or something else considered personal. If you don’t see it, you might want to pause before clicking in critical passwords. Apple says, “You won’t see this icon with every feature since Apple only collects this information when it’s needed to enable features, to secure our services, or to personalize your experience.” The new Privacy prompt says the following:

Apple believes privacy is a fundamental human right, so every Apple product is designed to:

  • Use on-device processing wherever possible
  • Limit the collection and use of data
  • Provide transparency and control over your information
  • Build on a strong foundation of security

The Privacy icon is new to iOS 11.3 and macOS High Sierra 10.13.4. Developer betas of both operating system updates were released yesterday; public betas are likely to follow sometime today. iOS 11.3 will launch to all users this spring, it also contains new Animoji, a health records addition to the Health app, the ability to turn off processor throttling for iPhones with older batteries, and more.

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