As part of a significant set of security announcements released by Apple, the technology giant announces it would finally be making provision for end-to-end encryption to iCloud backups. Apple will increase the number of “data categories” secured by end-to-end encryption from 14 to 23, adding backups, Notes, and Photos, under what it calls Advanced Data Protection.
These areas are covered when you enable Advanced Data Protection, according to an Apple screenshot: device backups, message backups, iCloud Drive, Notes, Photos, Reminders, Safari bookmarks, Siri Shortcuts, Voice Memos, and Wallet Passes. According to a press release from Apple, the only “important” categories excluded from Advanced-Data Protection are iCloud Mail, Contacts, and Calendar due to “the necessity to interoperate with the worldwide email, contacts, and calendar systems.”
On Apple’s website, you can view the whole list of data categories as well as what is covered by Advanced-Data Protection in addition to Standard Data Protection, which is default to your account’s setting.
Apple owns the encryption keys for things that aren’t end-to-end encrypted under conventional data protection, so the corporation can assist you in recovering that data if necessary. End-to-end encryption, which prevents the firm, law enforcement, or hackers from accessing your data from Apple’s databases, can only be used on “your trusted devices where you’re signed in with your Apple ID,” as stated by Apple.
End-to-end encryption for iCloud backups is something that privacy activists like the Electronic Frontier Foundation have long urged Apple to look into, but the company reportedly abandoned plans to do so after being hit by complaints from the FBI. In a conversation with The Wall Street Journal, Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, acknowledged hearing such “rumour” but claims he didn’t know where that originated from.
Beginning on Wednesday, those participating in Apple’s beta program in the US will be able to enable Advanced Data Protection, according to Apple. By the end of the year, it will be widely accessible to US customers, and in early 2023, it will roll out globally, including in China, according to The Wall Street Journal. Along with the disclosure of end-to-end iCloud backups, Apple also made it known that it had abandoned its contentious intentions to scan images of child sexual abuse.
Apple is further enhancing its support for two-factor authentication, starting in the new year Apple will start allowing customers to secure their accounts with hardware keys. In order to add an additional layer of security to your online accounts, hardware keys like YubiKeys have grown in popularity. Soon, you’ll be able to utilize a key with your iCloud account as well.
Apple is also enhancing the security of iMessage with iMessage Contact Key Verification, which the company claims can warn you if state-sponsored bad actors are monitoring your discussions.