Apple’s iOS 12 joins ‘trust score’ trend to fight mobile fraud

Apple’s newly released iOS 12 software update assesses a trust score on users, based on their phone call and email activity, in an effort to stamp out mobile fraud on its digital platforms.

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Apple’s new “device trust score” was revealed in the terms of service of its new iOS 12 and tvOS 12 operating system releases, which launched to the public on Monday. First discovered by VentureBeat, the updated terms reveal device scores are stored on Apple’s servers for a fixed amount of time, but the company cannot learn the real values from any individual device.

“To help identify and prevent fraud, information about how you use your device, including the approximate number of phone calls or emails you send and receive, will be used to compute a device trust score when you attempt a purchase,” the legal disclaimer reads.

The language used suggests that Apple is flagging users who have a suspicious amount of activity originating from their device, whether it be a high number of phone calls or emails. It’s also possible that the company learns what is a typical amount of outgoing communication from an iPhone or iPad, and can identify when a device may have been compromised based on changes in activity.

Trust scores are not new in the cybersecurity space, or even in payments in general, as certain behaviors and activities can serve as somewhat reliable red flags for fraudulent behavior. Last month, Facebook began ranking users on how trustworthy they are in flagging fake news and misinformation.

Apple’s embrace of trust scores, however, is new for the company, which has a history of being reluctant to collect and store sensitive consumer data, opting instead to profit from the sale of hardware and services.

With no mention of sharing trust score data with third parties, it’s likely that Apple is simply using its technology to prevent fraudulent charges on its iTunes digital ecosystem, which includes the App Store.

OWI Insight: Tech companies such as Facebook, Google and Apple know a tremendous amount about their customers. Leveraging that data to fight fraud or improve customer experience is a no-brainer. Apple’s transparency in the iOS 12 and tvOS 12 update is a good thing for consumers, and helps to establish trust with end users. The question is when (or whether) these companies will begin sharing or selling their own trust score data to other parties. While consumers may be leery of having Facebook rate how trustworthy they are, many other companies would find it invaluable to have a detailed assessment of a new customer’s trust without necessarily needing to collect any personally identifiable information.