Siri is a great utility, and she gets more useful day by day. What you might not realize, though, is that the convenience of using Siri from your lock screen can mean serious privacy concerns. Macworld recently related the story of a lost iPhone that brings to light just how insecure your information can be with Siri’s default settings. Is the convenience worth the poor security?
An iPhone left in the bathroom
Twitter user @afronomics_ found another woman’s iPhone in the bathroom, and decided to ask Siri some questions. Ostensibly, she was trying to find out who owned the device to return it.
I asked siri what's my name. it pulled up her info. cool. I asked siri who do I call most. pulled up her recent calls. cool.— uninterested hō (@afronomics_) February 20, 2017
Through further interrogation of the virtual assistant, the rescuer of the lost iPhone was able to dig up even more disconcerting information. For example, she was able to get the owner’s address as well as where her car was parked. As the Macworld author did, I tested many of these questions for myself.
Testing the insecurities
When I asked Siri my name from the lock screen, she dutifully responded with that information, along with my telephone numbers. When I asked her who I call the most, though, the only information Siri provided was my most recent call. I was told to unlock my iPhone to see the rest. I got the same results when I asked who my wife and children were. As you can see in the third image below, none of this is immediately clear when you look at the Touch ID & Passcode settings in iOS.
I won’t replicate everything Macworld tested. I’ll just tell you that the default privacy-related settings for the lock screen leave something to be desired. I’m actually surprised, given Apple’s stance on privacy. Here are some of the things you should check for yourself, to be sure you have your iPhone locked down as much as you’d like.
Protecting your data
There isn’t any single place to change your privacy settings for Siri and the lock screen. Rather, you get a selection of various options from Settings > Touch ID & Passcode, but that’s not all you can (and maybe should) change. For instance, there are plenty of things to be modified under Control Center and Notifications. Remember that disabling some of these items may inconvenience you. For example, disabling Siri from Touch ID & Passcode will prevent the “Hey Siri” option from working when your device is locked. You’ll also end up turning off Voice Dial when you disable Siri from the lock screen.
If you’re the type who never leaves your iPhone unattended, these privacy concerns might not mean much to you. But what if you do occasionally leave your device laying around? Is the convenience of being able to call up whatever information you want worth the risk of someone else finding your personal data?