iOS11 Wi-Fi, Bluetooth change sparks security concerns - Mobile World Live

iOS11 Wi-Fi, Bluetooth change sparks security concerns

21 SEP 2017

Apple changed a key functionality in its Control Centre in iOS11: namely the ability to fully turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, Motherboard reported.

The news outlet stated iOS11’s iPhone Control Centre still includes toggles for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but those buttons no longer completely turn off the corresponding radios. To do so, users now need to actually go into the settings menu and toggle the functions off there.

Andrea Barisani, head of hardware security at F-Secure, noted the change on Twitter.

Experts like Barisani are worried the change will expose users to more security risks, especially in light of the newly discovered Blueborne threats which allow hackers to tap into user devices connected to Bluetooth. The flaw was pointed out by security company Armis earlier this month.

Apple’s move is intentional and appears to have first been highlighted in the beta version of iOS11. While Wi-Fi and Bluetooth accessories will immediately be disconnected, the change means the radios will remain on to allow functions including AirDrop, AirPlay, Apple Watch, location services and others to continue working in the background.

However, toggling Wi-Fi off in the Control Centre will disable auto-join for nearby Wi-Fi networks – at least temporarily. In iOS11, walking or driving to a new location, the clock striking 5 a.m. local time, or restarting the device will turn auto-join back on, according to Apple documentation. Bluetooth will also automatically turn back on at 5 a.m. or when you restart your device.

Apple released iOS11 on 19 September, offering features tipped to boost uptake of augmented reality apps.


Diana Goovaerts

Diana is Mobile World Live's US Editor, reporting on infrastructure and spectrum rollouts, regulatory issues, and other carrier news from the US market. Diana came to GSMA from her former role as Editor of Wireless Week and CED Magazine, digital-only...

Read more