Apple is combating phishing on its operating systems with the planned addition of a small icon to identify first-party information requests.
Basically, the company is introducing a new Privacy icon that will appear when Apple — rather than a malicious third-party — is asking for your login details or other confidential information. The icon will be available in the public release of iOS 11.3 and macOS High Sierra 10.13.4.
The new security feature was first discovered by developers who are beta testing iOS 11.3. The icon appears as two silhouettes shaking hands. According to an information splash page, the privacy icon appears when “an Apple app or feature is asking to use your personal information.”
The splash page notes that the icon won’t appear with every feature, but only when Apple is collecting personal information. It’s also not readily clear where the icon will pop up, perhaps it’ll show up in the top menu bar or next to a password login field.
In other words, if you’re running iOS 11.3 and you see a prompt without the Privacy icon, then you’re probably dealing with a malicious entity attempting to phish your password.
Phishing, of course, is a way of stealing passwords by having a user input them into a fraudulent password field. Oftentimes, these malicious phishing exploits look nearly identical to actual, authentic requests for information, as we’ve seen in an October blog post by developer Felix Krause.
iPhones will regularly prompt users to input their password — and at times, it can be hard to know why or when iOS asks for a password. Because of that, many users are prone to falling for a fraudulent password request. And while Apple’s reviewers try to keep as many malicious apps out of the App Store as possible, some phishing apps can still make it through the cracks.
While there have been workarounds to avoid phishing, this new privacy icon is Apple’s first proprietary attempt to thwart the tactic.
And that’s because, according to the Privacy icon splash page, “Apple believes privacy is a fundamental human right.” As we’ve written before, Apple’s commitment to privacy is its best product.
The Privacy icon is new to iOS 11.3 and macOS High Sierra 10.13.4, which are both currently in the beta stage. Apple announced today that iOS 11.3 — which includes a handful of other significant features — will launch for all users in the spring.