EFF Calls Apple’s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Control Center Toggles Bad User Security
Apple changed the Control Center functionality in iOS 11, with some sweeping changes to aesthetics, and, in some cases, functionality.
For instance, switching “off” the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth toggles in Control Center doesn’t actually turn them off. If you want to actually turn the features off you need to go into the Settings app and turn them off with their individual toggles. Tapping the toggle in Control Center simply deactivates the feature, but makes sure that the Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi are able to quickly connect to Apple services, like the Apple Pencil.
At face value, and if you use a lot of Apple accessories, like the aforementioned stylus, it might not be a big deal. However, for folks who actually think turning off a wireless feature in a quick access control panel should turn it off, it can be a bit tricky. Especially considering Apple doesn’t actually make it perfectly clear to users what’s going on.
As a result of all that, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has come forward and stated that they aren’t the biggest fans of Apples new iOS 11 Control Center features, as it relates to the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth toggles. The organization says it’s bad for “user security,” and outlines why they have taken issue with all of it:
“Instead, what actually happens in iOS 11 when you toggle your quick settings to “off” is that the phone will disconnect from Wi-Fi networks and some devices, but remain on for Apple services. Location Services is still enabled, Apple devices (like Apple Watch and Pencil) stay connected, and services such as Handoff and Instant Hotspot stay on. Apple’s UI fails to even attempt to communicate these exceptions to its users.
It gets even worse. When you toggle these settings in the Control Center to what is best described as”off-ish,” they don’t stay that way. The Wi-Fi will turn back full-on if you drive or walk to a new location. And both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will turn back on at 5:00 AM. This is not clearly explained to users, nor left to them to choose, which makes security-aware users vulnerable as well.”
The EFF wants Apple to communicate these specific features to the user better, in an effort to make sure that they know when Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are off.
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