As part of a significant set of security announcements on Wednesday, Apple said it would finally provide 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 categories 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. Due to “the need to interoperate with the global email, contacts, and calendar systems,” Apple claims that the only “major” categories excluded from Advanced-Data Protection are iCloud Mail, Contacts, and Calendar. 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 your account’s default 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 company, 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.
Apple reportedly abandoned plans to add end-to-end encryption to iCloud backups after the FBI objected. Privacy advocates like the Electronic Frontier Foundation have long urged Apple to do this. In an interview with Joanna Stern of The Wall Street Journal, Craig Federighi, Apple’s SVP of software engineering, claimed to have heard that “rumor” but to “not know where that came 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 has abandoned its contentious plans to scan images of child sexual abuse.
Apple will start allowing users to secure their accounts with hardware keys at the beginning of next year, further enhancing its support for two-factor authentication. 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 use a key with your iCloud account as well.