Apple Explains Deactivated Anti-Phishing Feature in iPhone OS 3.1

Following up on the recent addition of an anti-phishing feature in the recently-released iPhone OS 3.1 firmware and the fact that the feature seems to be inactive by default, The Loop‘s Jim Dalrymple caught up with Apple spokesman Bill Evans to discuss how to activate the feature:

“Safari’s anti-phishing database is downloaded while the user charges their phone in order to protect battery life and ensure there aren’t any additional data fees,” Apple spokesman, Bill Evans, told The Loop.

This would suggest, among other things, that the anti-phishing database is stored locally on the iPhone. Presumably, it can be updated over the network after that initial download and would otherwise be fairly useless against phishing sites, which sprout up with tremendous frequency. Apple’s employed a similar technique in the Mac version of Safari, which works with Google’s Safe Browsing system.

In order to take full advantage of the anti-phishing software, Apple recomends launching Safari on iPhone 3.1 on a Wi-Fi network, and then charging the phone with the screen off.

Apple has yet to clarify this procedure on its support Web site or in the iPhone’s manual, which could lead to user confusion and the question as to why the feature is deactivated from the get go.

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