The deadline that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) had set for developers of iOS apps to encrypt their app communications before the end of 2016 has been postponed. The deadline, which had been announced at the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference back in June, had required that all apps support the App Transport Security feature beginning January 1, 2017. A new deadline is yet to be set.
“At WWDC 2016 we announced that apps submitted to the App Store will be required to support ATS at the end of the year. To give you additional time to prepare, this deadline has been extended…,” part of an Apple statement informing about the postponement of the deadline read.
HTTPS over HTTP protocol
The security-enhancing technologies present in the App Transport Security include SHA-2, TLS1.2, and AES-128. With ATS, applications are only loaded over the HTTPS protocol as opposed to the vulnerable HTTP protocol. App Transport Security also features perfect forward secrecy, a technique of key-exchange that is useful in protecting encrypted sessions even in cases when the server certificate gets compromised at a future date. iOS 9 and OS X v10.11 were the first operating systems from Apple to support ATS.
Resistance to change
Though the decision to postpone the deadline indefinitely could have been motivated by a variety of reasons, an Appthority study has hinted that most developers of iOS apps are not ready to support App Transport Security. The study revealed that even among the top 200 most commonly used enterprise apps in the iOS ecosystem, 97% applied ATS exceptions in their apps, even though the default setting is for ATS to be enabled. This meant that only 3% of apps would have been ready for the deadline if it had been applied less than a month to the scheduled deadline.
However, compared to other operating systems on mobile devices, the use of HTTPS on iOS is relatively higher and is expected to grow even more with time.
Apple Inc edged up by 0.20 percent in Friday’s trading session to close the day at $116.52 a share.
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