Apple is very popular for leading revolutionary innovations in smartphone technology. However, the iOS, which is the software Apple devices run on, does not protect your emails completely from infiltration. Emails, being one of the easiest means through which information is transmitted, need protection from parties that shouldn’t access them.
In this post, everything you need to know to supplement the safety of your mails on your iOS device is discussed.
How safe are the emails on my iOS device?
Research has revealed that the number of emails transmitted between users is estimated to grow beyond 333 billion by the end of 2022. Knowing this raises concern about how to protect your emails from leaks of any kind. Because your iOS device can not identify all spam and intercept malware, you need to employ other means to help out.
The iOS was again upgraded to a more user-friendly version in June 2021. This development was, of course, a software leap into convenience, including modification in messaging privacy and protection.
Some of the features of the new iOS 15 include:
- Safari IP protection
- Mail privacy protection
- Hide my email feature
- iCloud private relay
However, the question of interest remains, “Where lies the fate of pre-IOS 15 users?” Another valid concern would be about the efficiency of the new privacy and security-focused features. Some iOS users have raised several concerns.
Some users have complained about slower internet speeds after upgrading to the new iOS version. Others have highlighted higher data consumption and distortion of GPS location due to the IP-masking feature of the new iOS.
You may want to try alternate ideas in your quest for secure email encryption and privacy protection by adopting other options like:
- TLS encryption
- Secure email apps
Can emails on my IOS device be hacked?
In March 2020, the company ZecOps Inc, a cybersecurity automation company, claimed it discovered a bug in Apple’s mail app. It was surprising to many people that a high-profile company like Apple had previously not known this. However, they have assured the public that the possible bug would be fixed through an upgrade in the subsequent software of the company.
Apple’s iOS devices pose a certain kind of difficulty in the detection of malware or software bugs. This could be due to its reputation of being more secure than other smart devices.
However, it is important to note that this could be misleading. Even the smallest shortcoming could open doors to intrusions, posing a big risk for the integrity of the software. When ZecOps made that finding in March 2020, it claimed that it had proof that the bug found in the mail app was used as a tool for exploitation by some individuals.
The most important thing you should be aware of is that little leaks cause big damages and that the IOS isn’t 100 percent immune to that. Another point of interest is that emails that individuals receive as scam emails are usually sent from hacked devices. This means as an IOS user, that could potentially be you.
In what ways can my IOS device be hacked?
Some common ways cybercriminals would attack your IOS device are:
- Keylogging: Keylogging may be the simplest way of accessing an email account unauthorized. The hacker can deploy a spyware payload against the target that contains a keylogger. A keylogger captures keystrokes and sends them back to the attacker so they can see anything you typed, especially web addresses and passwords.
- Phishing: This is more complicated. It involved using web pages that mimic legitimate websites. Phishers create fake login pages of Gmail, Yahoo, and so on. The victim will click a link in a phishing email and be directed the fake login page and from there, the attacker will have your login credentials to any given account. (especially email)
- Wireless attacks: An attacker could send you malware via Bluetooth or near field communication (NFC) radio waves. If your device has Bluetooth or NFC on then an attacker can easily enough hijack your device, clone your SIM card, and steal your device information provided that they are within a short range.
What does the term “Secure email” mean?
Since the invention of email, it has posed information leak threats to individuals and big companies too. A secure email is a normal email with additional security advancements.
Insecure emails, everything front-end, remains structurally the same. You still are able to send your emails and get responses. However, spam and interceptions are confronted and eliminated behind the scene.
Most email providers claim to provide this service, but experimentally, have fallen short of it. Gmail, Microsoft, and Yahoo are clearly not as secure as they seem, as they have an unpleasant history of data breaches.
This means, as a smartphone user, the responsibility still falls on you to ensure your private information is kept private. Interestingly, there is more than one way you can do this as an iOS user. Check them out:
- Email encryption
- Patronizing more secure email service providers
Email encryption disguises emails so that it gets to the right recipient without being accessed by a wrong party. There are two ways you can protect your iOS device from email-related attacks.
- Secure/multipurpose internet mail extension(S/MIME)
- Transport layer security (TLS)
Secure Email Providers
There are service providers that have an emailing system that allows for the safe transmission of information. You can try them out to ensure that you are well secured when sending out emails.
What is S/MIME, and how does it protect emails on my iOS device?
SMIME is an email signing protocol that shields your email from unwanted compromise. It does this by increasing the security of emails delivered and received.
There are three systems by which it does this.
- Certify the actual sender of an email by a time-stamped digital signature
- Encrypt and decrypt what is being sent
- Ensure that documents are securely sent across various networks.
This email safety protocol works like the law that mandates you to sign certificates for identification and elimination of imposters.
The question about this protocol is, how then do you know your email is encrypted?
In the graphic above, you will notice a lock icon. This icon shows that an email is encrypted and safe. The check mark shows that the sender signed the email.
How S/MIME can be used in your iOS device
Installing SMIME on your iOS device is a stepwise process and can be done very briefly if you follow the instructions laid out here.
Obtain a S/MIME certificate
There are two ways of obtaining a S/MIME certificate. You can either purchase or look for a free one. You can buy it from a Certificate Authority (CA) or a retailer. You can also get one for free from companies like Actalis.
Certificate bundles are provided in the .p12 file if the company was responsible for handing you the certificate or as .p7b if you tendered a certificate-signing request.
Move the S/MIME certificate to your iOS device.
To move the S/MIME certificate to your iOS device, you can employ airdrop or iCloud. Select the link in the email you used as your certificate deposition email. Follow the necessary steps.
If you got the certificate as a .p12, save it to a folder you can remember.
Install the certificate
The next thing to do is to install the certificate. After saving the file, you may be required to open it again. If that isn’t the case, go to the folder you saved the file and open it.
You will be asked to provide a password to access the file. However, the password required is your mobile device password.
Before installing, your iOS device may query the identity of the certificate if it isn’t a signed one. Please ensure you are sure of the source before proceeding to install.
Now, you can go ahead with the installation. Again, you will be mandated to enter a password. This is a different password. This one is the one you created when ordering your certificate. Fill in the password.
If you’ve done this, the certificate then installs on your device.
How to configure S/MIME in your iOS after installation
The following are ways you can set up the S/MIME certificate after you have successfully installed it on your iOS device:
- The first thing to do, after you have installed the certificate, is to enable it in your mail. To do this, go to Settings, then next, mail.
- Under the Mail icon, go to accounts, click on it and choose the email account to which the S/MIME certificate is registered.
- On the next page, click on your email address or the ID name of the email, then input the password.
- On the next page, you will find Advanced. Under it, select mail.
- When you have done this, please scroll down to where you find the S/MIME icon, then slide to the right to turn it on.
- The next thing to do is turn on digital signing and encryption. Please do this by clicking the sign and sliding to the right to turn it on.
- Click on Encrypt to enable encryption. Enabling encryption will automatically mask your emails, except the email client also has a S/MIME certificate enabled.
How do I share S/MIME-Encrypted Mails with my contact?
To do this, you must exchange public keys. Return to your account settings and disable Encrypt by default. Now try composing a message to your contact. Ask them to add you and send a mail with a digitally signed email.
When you have received the signed email, go to the From field to access the profile of the sender.
Select View certificate and install. After doing this, you are now eligible to exchange encrypted messages with that particular user.
What is TLS, and how can iOS use it for encryption?
TLS, which stands for Transport Layer Security, is a protocol often used to secure the exchange of emails. TLS, which is a newer version of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), has better security features than SSL.
When emails are exchanged, the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) links itself to the server via the transport layer.
The email server, during this process, finds out about the protocol by sending a certificate that is trusted by the user’s software or by a third party trusted by it.
The latest iOS version is incompatible with older versions of TLS protocol like TLS 1.0 and 1.1. Apple has, however, emphasized the need for newer versions like TLS 1.3 due to speed and safety.
Installation and setup of TLS on the iOS device
The TLS certificate can be installed on an iOS device in very simple steps, as shown here:
- On your iOS device, go to your Safari browser and type cert.n4l.co.nz, then download.
- Click Allow to give access to the configuration profile query.
- For the pop-up message that says, “Review the profile on settings app if you want to install it, click Close.
- Go to settings and click on Profile Downloaded.
- The Install Profile will then be displayed in the top right corner. Click on it.
- Please enter the password of your device when it comes up. For the certificate warning that pops up, still, click Install.
- The profile installed screen will then be displayed. Click Done.
After these steps have been carried out, follow the prompt to trust the SSL certificate on your device.
The next thing to do after installing the TLS certificate is to connect the TLS to an email account using iOS mail. These can be carried out as follows:
- Go to Settings and select the Mail option among the list of options displayed.
- On the next page, choose Accounts.
- Under the option of Accounts, please select the email address next to it.
- Before continuing, ensure to change the name of the domain to your domain name.
- Afterward, proceed to Advanced settings. Next, go to Incoming Settings and enable the Use SSL under it. Change your server port yourself if it doesn’t change.
- Choose the SMTP option under Outgoing Mail Server to change your outgoing server.
- Select a resident server.
- From there, you can then enable the Use SSL option.
Besides encrypted Mail services, are there secure email providers for my iOS device?
Yes. Another option for securing your iOS mail is to patronize email providers with optimal security performance. Features you should look out for are:
- End-to-end encryption
- 2FA (Two-factor authentication)
- No history of data breaches
As addressed earlier, not all email providers have the features listed here. Some of the trusted email providers that will work best to provide mail safety on your iOS device are:
You probably might have heard of it, but due to the popularity of other email services, it sidestepped this privacy-friendly Swiss app.
It doesn’t have a desktop app. It also works on web browsers for computers. However, this email service which is perfectly compatible with iOS, have interesting features like:
- Encrypts emails to anyone
- Self-destroys suspected scam mails.
- Has .csv file contact import.
Tutanota is an open-source email service provider. It runs on AES and RSA types of encryption. It is also supported on all iOS devices. It has a free version of 1GB, and the paid version is relatively cheap. Its features include
- Supports two-factor authentication
- Hides your IP address to protect you.
- Users can choose authentication apps.
This mail service also has a web-based application that is free of ads and very easy to use, and has an encrypted calendar.
This is one of the most secure email service providers for your iOS device. Countermail uses PGP encryption. It also has this interesting feature of adopting RAM-only servers that don’t store anything. Other features of this provider are:
- Man-in-the-middle attack protection
- In addition to using the SSL layer, It uses AES and RSA algorithms.
- It supports a Time-based One-time Password algorithm (TOTP)
Countermail has a free trial feature that lasts for seven days. It structures its domain such that you can only transmit mails from only secure users like you.
The interesting thing about this email service provider is that it protects your email while they are still in transmission. It is also open-source. This means you’re not trusting your emails to an unknown or unverified source.
You can also customize your mail to include a PGP, which makes your emails more secure. Other features include:
- Supports POP, SMTP, and IMAP protocols.
- It also uses Strict Transport Security.
This provider doesn’t have a free version. You have to subscribe with a monthly fee to get the best from the services it offers. The comforting fact, however, is that every penny paid is worth the security of your mail.
Emails still remain the most convenient way of sending messages across networks. The simplicity with which it operates provides a tempting target for attackers.
Every possible way you can protect your iOS device has been highlighted in this post. Luckily, there are multiple ways through which that can be done. Look into them and find the most suitable one to keep your information private.