It was more than two years ago when Apple came under fire for rejecting federal law enforcement’s plea to unlock a terrorist’s iPhone. Doing so, they said, would violate the security and privacy rights of every person using their technology—not just one terrorist.
User security and privacy has since become a marketing tool for the tech giant, touting its software as best in the industry over some of its competitors, such as Microsoft and Google. Now after a series of major cybersecurity breaches have hit almost every large technology company, including Apple, users are concerned.
In Apple’s case, hackers were able to access contact information from iPhones without a need for the user’s passcode. Later, they accessed locations of certain users within some of their applications.
Microsoft faced similar problems when bugs within its Outlook software were exposed by smaller-scale breaches, allowing emails and account information to be accessed by hackers.
Both companies have since fixed the issues, but as new software and products are released, the potential for new bugs and vulnerabilities remains.
Nathan Viray, sophomore computer science major, said as someone who uses different software from most of these companies, news like this is concerning—especially in a college setting in which almost everyone relies on device security and privacy.
“It makes you wonder how safe the technology we use on a daily basis actually is,” Viray said.
Larry Clement, assistant and interim chair of the Computing, Software and Data Sciences Department, said while persistent security breaches are concerning, there is a catch. In the case of most breaches, hackers are looking to exploit targets that have significant assets or information.
“The majority of users have nothing to worry about when hearing about these kinds of incidents,” Clement said.
Instead, Clement pointed out that companies, governments, universities and high-profile people are the targets for the vast majority of cyber attacks.
However, that does not mean users should not be proactive. For students, managing activity across their devices is common sense, but there are additional ways to make sure one’s data is secure.
“Two-factor authentication is probably the best way to protect yourself, along with anti-virus software,” Clement said.
People and groups who are more prone to be targeted should utilize those security protocols as the first step to ensuring their data is safe amid security concerns, but they may need to take additional steps for cybersecurity.
Thomas Riggle, who owns his own architecture firm and has contracted with California Baptist University through its expansion, said with the multitude of programs and software needed in his business, news of major breaches can be highly concerning.
“As we have seen this huge shift toward using tech literally everywhere, it’s understandable when there is such a big concern over hacks when everyone is using these products,” Riggle said.
Riggle said hiring his own cybersecurity company was a necessary precaution for potential hacks, especially with a growing business with a constant need for technology to operate.
As for the debate over security between Apple, Microsoft and others, Riggle said that gap has gotten smaller than what it was before when Apple dominated the security market.
This echoes Clement’s assertion that for the average user, major tech companies have done well in protecting data and privacy despite occasional news that may indicate otherwise.