Apple recently announced three new security features for iMessage, Apple ID, and iCloud as an additional layer of protection for users who are at high risk of sophisticated government-sponsored attacks like journalists, human rights activists, politicians, diplomats, and others.
Amongst new security features is the “Advanced Data Protection for iCloud” which expands end-to-end encryption protection to new data categories like iCloud Photos, Backups, and others.
Apple Senior Vice President of Software, Craig Federighi sat down with Joanna Stern from Wall Street Journal to explain the concept, purpose, and functionality of the new Advanced Data Protection for an iCloud feature coming to users in the US at the end of the year and to everyone in early 2023.
The opt-in “Advanced Data Protection for iCloud” feature gives users the responsibility for their data
End-to-end encryption is a secure communication method that prevents third-party access to users’ data when transferred from one device to another including internet service providers, app providers, hackers, or others. For years, cybersecurity experts had requested the tech giant to offer end-to-end encryption protection for more data.
With the new ‘Advanced Data Protection for iCloud’, Apple has finally expanded that protection to 23 data categories as a preemptive measure to prevent breaches of users’ personal iCloud data.
Federighi explained that the reason it took the company so long to expand end-to-end encryption on iCloud was that the steps taken over a decade ago were “necessary precursors to build towards this moment” and end-to-end encryption for iCloud passwords and browser history proved that technology.
Although the opt-in Advanced Data Protection for iCloud feature gives users control of their data protection like Backups, photos, notes, reminders, and others, it also puts more responsibility on them to be able to access that data by remembering the passcodes.
Luckily for times when users lose their devices or forget their passcodes, Apple has added new data recovery options like setting up Account Recovery Contact or using a Recovery Key.
Discussing the pushback from law enforcement agencies over end-to-end encryption, Federighi said that law enforcement agencies and Apple have the same goal which is to protect people, especially those with sensitive information. Therefore, the new Advanced Data Protection for iCloud will also be released in China.
“We view that we’re really have the same mission at heart which is to keep people safe, ultimately keeping customers data safe has big implications on our safety more broadly. There’s sensitive information that were an ill-intentioned attacker whether that be a foreign adversary or organized crime to get access to information of our political leaders or other who have particular secrets or access to systems could be disasterous for us all.
So we see this as important to accomplishing the mission we share which is to keep users safe.”
Concurrent with the announcement of new security features, Apple has also confirmed that it will not release CSAM Detection for iCloud Photos which would have scanned users’ Photos for CSAM during their upload on iCloud. Instead, the company will invest in Communication Safety for Messages feature.