After what seems like a long hiatus following a flurry of iOS 13 updates, Apple has just dropped iOS 13.3.1 along with a few updates and fixes. By far the most important of these is an update that allows iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max users to control their location privacy via a new toggle.
It comes after a flaw was found by KrebsonSecurity that meant the iPhone 11 Pro was able to track a person’s location, even if this function was switched off. It emerged that this issue was caused by the ultra-wideband(UWB) chip in the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro, which needs to use location services to check compatibility in different countries.
But Apple has now allowed you to disable UWB altogether using the UWB toggle.
How do I turn off the new UWB toggle in iOS 13.3.1?
The toggle is available to all iPhones containing the UWB chip. Whether you use the new tool is up to you, but I would recommend it for those who are concerned about their privacy and security.
It’s simple to turn it on once you have checked your phone and downloaded the iOS 13.3.1 update. Go to Privacy Settings>Location Services>System Services>Networking and Wireless. Once you have found the toggle, simply switch it to “Off.”
The new control was first seen by journalist and YouTuber Brandon Butch as part of the second iOS 13.3.1 beta. He shared the below screenshot of the setting in a Tweet earlier in January.
How to use iOS 13’s other security and privacy features
Privacy and security are no longer the realm of only advanced or paranoid smartphone users. With breaches and privacy scandals happening all the time, everyone is starting to notice what’s happening to their data.
Apple is of course aware of this and has promoted the new iOS 13 security and privacy features heavily. It’s working: A new study found that people were using Apple’s location privacy features, at the expense of advertisers.
There are lots of ways to secure your data in iOS 13, including the ability to stop apps such as Google and Facebook tracking you in the background when they’re not in use. It’s a good idea to look at your privacy settings and enable these controls, if you haven’t already.
But it should also be noted that Apple has been accused of not applying the same controls to its own apps such as Find My. With this in mind, I wrote a guide on how to secure all your apps in iOS 13, including Apple’s.
More security and privacy tools in iOS 13
In addition to enabling your iPhone’s privacy controls in your settings, Apple has also given people the ability to control the data its Siri voice assistant collects, following a spate of scandals. If you want to stop Siri collecting your data, simply go to Privacy > Analytics & Improvements > Improve Siri & Dictation and move the toggle to “off.”
Another very cool and fun to use security feature which arrived recently in iOS 13.3 is the option to use security keys such as the Yubico Yubikey in Apple’s Safari browser. Security keys are actually really easy to use and add an essential layer of security to your apps and services.
Why should I care about location tracking?
It’s true that lots of people have a relaxed attitude towards their privacy: “I haven’t done anything wrong,” you might think. So why should you care about location tracking?
There is, of course, the risk that your location information could be accessed by hackers.
“Having someone’s location can provide valuable information that can be extremely useful to those wishing to use it for malicious purposes,” says security researcher Sean Wright. “Attackers will make use of whatever information they can get their hands on, no matter how insignificant it can appear.”
For example, location information may let an adversary know you are on holiday, paving the way for a burglary at your home. At the same time, someone’s location can give a hacker who wants to social engineer their victim more fuel to perform their attack.
What to do
Hopefully you are now convinced that location tracking can be a major risk to your privacy. The most sensible thing to do is to only enable location services on your iPhone when an app is in use.
This is the ethos of security professional John Opdenakker, who says: “I recommend that people turn off location tracking for all apps and only enable it for the time you need it to use a particular app.”
You heard it here first: Use the iOS 13 privacy and security features; they are there for a reason. Companies certainly don’t need this information, so why give it to them?