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Apple’s Craig Federighi Talks WWDC’s New Privacy Features in Interview

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Apple’s Craig Federighi said in an interview that maintaining security and privacy for Apple’s users will be a “battle we will be fighting for years to come.”

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Privacy and security continue to be a major element of Apple’s work in developing operating systems like iOS and macOS. In an interview with Fast Company, Apple’s Craig Federighi went into detail about some of the changes, and App Tracking Transparency.

On the topic of security being a cat-and-mouse game, the Apple exec said he agrees with the analogy, explaining that Apple believes it can continue to lead the industry, and especially as the incentives for finding privacy “exploitations” are high:

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I think the analogy with security is apt. The incentives for “innovation” in the exploitation world are high, and so there is a lot of advancement in the art of tracking; a lot of advancement in the arts of security exploits. And so, in both areas, we think there’s going to continue to be a cat and mouse game. We think we bring a lot of tools to that fight, and we can largely stay ahead of it and protect our customers. But it’s something we recognize as a battle we will be fighting for years to come.

Federighi also detailed the thinking behind the new iCloud Private Relay feature, Apple’s version of a VPN client that allows users to connect to virtually any network and browse the internet in a more secure way:

The incentives for ‘innovation’ in the exploitation world are high, and so there is a lot of advancement in the art of tracking; a lot of advancement in the arts of security exploits. And so, in both areas, we think there’s going to continue to be a cat and mouse game. We think we bring a lot of tools to that fight, and we can largely stay ahead of it and protect our customers. But it’s something we recognize as a battle we will be fighting for years to come.

While VPN clients have been around for years, Apple’s iCloud Private Relay is different in that even the Cupertino company isn’t aware of what users are doing while connected to it:

We wanted to take that [trust evaluation] completely out of the equation by having a dual-hop architecture. We hope users believe in Apple as a trustworthy intermediary, but we didn’t even want you to have to trust us [because] we don’t have this ability to simultaneously source your IP and the destination where you’re going to–and that’s unlike VPNs.

Federighi also touches on Apple’s new App Tracking Transparency feature that debited in iOS 14.5. While Apple users have a choice to opt-in or out of the feature, Federighi believes that therein lies the success of the feature:

The key for us is that users have a choice. You know, whether if it was 50/50 or 95/5 or 5/95– that’s all fine if it represents what the user actually wanted; that they had the opportunity to evaluate that decision and make whatever decision was right for them. So we certainly view success not through the lens of what the opt in or opt out rate is, but the fact that users have choice.

Check out the entire interview over at Fast Company — it’s well worth the read.

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