Updated on April 4th, 2023
Apple Adds End-to-end Encryption to iCloud Services Including Messages, Photos and More
Apple has announced that it will be expanding its end-to-end encryption to include more of its iCloud services. The tech giant is calling this initiative advanced data protection which will now encompass iCloud services like messages, photos, notes, etc. Apple iCloud lets iPad, iPhone and Mac users backup their data on the cloud.
“At Apple, we are unwavering in our commitment to provide our users with the best data security in the world. We constantly identify and mitigate emerging threats to their personal data on device and in the cloud. Our security teams work tirelessly to keep users’ data safe, and with iMessage Contact Key Verification, Security Keys, and Advanced Data Protection for iCloud, users will have three powerful new tools to further protect their most sensitive data and communications,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering.
What Is End-to-end Encryption?
End-to-end encryption is a feature that prevents anyone from accessing protected data. For example, iMessage protected by this security feature would mean that only the sender and the recipient can read the message. Not even Apple can view the contents of encrypted data.
What’s New in the iCloud Data Protection List?
Apple already protects 14 categories of iCloud services using end-to-end encryption including iCloud Keychain and Health data. The company has added 23 more data categories to this list to be protected by advanced data protection.
Have a look at the new iCloud services that are now protected by end-to-end encryption:
- Messages backups
- Device backups
- Voice memos
- Safari bookmarks
- Siri shortcuts
- Wallet passes
- iCloud Drive
“iCloud encrypts your data to keep it secure. Advanced-Data Protection uses end-to-end encryption to ensure that iCloud data types listed here can only be decrypted on your trusted devices, protecting your information even in the case of a data breach in the cloud,” Apple wrote in its blog post.
When Advanced Data Protection launches on phones it will be opt-in only. To enable this feature on your Apple device you will have to open the Settings app and go to the iCloud menu. Enabling Advanced Data Protection will ensure that no one has the keys to decrypt the protected data including Apple. The only person that has the access to protected data will be the user.
Amidst Data Privacy Concerns
This is good news especially when Apple has been increasingly facing data privacy concerns. Users have always raised complaints about messages and device backups in the cloud not having end-to-end encryption. This was a gap in the tech giant’s security system. iMessages was gifted with end-to-end encryption since the beginning but Apple didn’t bring the same to its messages on the cloud.
But now the iPhone maker has brought the much-anticipated encryption to messages on iCloud. This is how Apple describes when you activate Standard data protection on your device: “Messages in iCloud are end-to-end encrypted when iCloud Backup is disabled. When iCloud Backup is enabled, your backup includes a copy of the Messages in iCloud encryption key to help you recover your data. If you turn off iCloud Backup, a new key is generated on your device to protect future Messages in iCloud. This key is end-to-end encrypted between your devices and isnʼt stored by Apple.”
This is what happens when you enable advanced data protection: “Messages in iCloud are always end-to-end encrypted. When iCloud Backup is enabled, everything inside it is end-to-end encrypted, including the Messages in the iCloud encryption key.”
Messages backed up on iCloud have finally received the most needed feature, the security of end-to-end encryption. The fact that this encryption ensures that the platform itself can’t get access to private information is appreciable.