iOS 11 WiFi And Bluetooth Toggles Jeopardize User Security

iOS 11 WiFi And Bluetooth Toggles Jeopardize User Security

As you may imagine, for many iPhone and iPad users, it is common practice to disable WiFi and Bluetooth when they don’t use them. There are many benefits to disabling both. Not only is it a good security practice, but it also saves your battery. Given that there are well-known Bluetooth vulnerabilities on different operating systems, it is of utmost importance to avoid compromising your security by leaving them on. However, iOS 11 WiFi and Bluetooth are a little harder to disable, and Apple’s misleading Control Center toggles can compromise the security of users whose iPhones and iPads are running on iOS 11.

iOS 11 WiFi

If you downloaded Apple’s new update, then you already know that toggling WiFi and/or Bluetooth off won’t entirely deactivate them. The radios, instead, only disconnect from the network or device they are paired with at that time. In order to fully disable these two radios, you need to either activate airplane mode, which is not a recommended practice, or head over to the Settings app and toggle them off.

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Other users who are unaware of Apple’s new practice might use the WiFi and Bluetooth toggles to deactivate these two radios. After all, the revamped Control Center allows users to do that swiftly, which is the whole point of the change. After the toggle switches are pressed and the blue turned into gray, users might assume that the radios are disabled, which is not the truth.  In iOS 11, Control Center no longer fully disables WiFi or Bluetooth.

An iPhone that’s running on iOS 11 will disconnect from the WiFi network that it is currently connected to. However, the whole WiFi service will stay activated for Apple services such as Location Services or Apple Devices (Apple Watch and Pencil). It is worth mentioning that Handoff and Instant Hotspot stay enabled as well. What is even more disturbing is that iOS 11 also doesn’t notify users that these radios will remain on, making them believe that they actually disabled iOS 11 WiFi and Bluetooth.

The toggles for iOS 11 WiFi and Bluetooth will be switched to “on” as soon as users change their location or start driving (Apple’s iOS 11 can recognize whether the device’s owner is driving to activate “do not disturb” mode.) Furthermore, the radios will re-enable themselves every morning at 5 a.m. Apple hasn’t explained the reason behind this inconvenience yet.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Apple’s misleading settings for iOS 11 WiFi and Bluetooth toggles in Control Center make “security-aware users vulnerable as well.”

“When a phone is designed to behave in a way other than what the UI suggests, it results in both security and privacy problems,” the EFF explains. “A user has no visual or textual clues to understand the device’s behavior, which can result in a loss of trust in operating system designers to faithfully communicate what’s going on. Since users rely on the operating system as the bedrock for most security and privacy decisions, no matter what app or connected device they may be using, this trust is fundamental.”

According to the organization, Apple’s attempt to keep users connected to iOS 11 WiFi and Bluetooth jeopardizes their security. Loopholes in connectivity expose users to several risks, such as hacker attacks. Apple said that it intended for the Control Center not to fully disable WiFi and Bluetooth, which is even more confusing. Hence, the best practice for users is to either activate Airplane mode or deactivate iOS 11 WiFi and Bluetooth in settings, although this process lasts longer.

Do iOS 11 WiFi, and Bluetooth toggles not entirely working in Control Center annoy you? Please leave a comment!

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Danica Simic has been writing ever since she was a child. Before she started writing for ValueWalk she was reviewing laptops, headphones and gaming equipment as well as writing articles about astronomy and game development. Danica is a student of applied and computational physics while also studying software and data engineering. Her hobbies include reading, swimming, drawing and gaming whenever she has free time. - Email her at [email protected]
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