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Apple will offer encryption in iCloud backups

Apple Store in Turin. Photo: Alexander Pohl/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Apple will begin offering encryption on users’ iCloud backups, adding an extra layer of security to people’s saved text messages, location data, and other sensitive personal information stored on iPhones, iPads, and Macs.

why does it matter: Apple’s encryption extension will make it harder for hackers and law enforcement to gain access to users’ phone data. Even Apple won’t be able to see the encrypted data sets.

Formerly Apple iCloud it only encrypts “14 categories of sensitive data,” including passwords stored in iCloud and health data.

  • Now, as detailed in a blog post on Wednesday, encryption is offered for backups, notes, and photos.
  • The only areas that are not encrypted are iCloud’s mail, contacts and calendar tools “due to the need to interoperate with global email, contacts and calendar systems,” the company said in a blog post.

The panorama: Apple shelved plans to let iPhone users encrypt backups after the FBI complained the move would hurt investigations, as Reuters reported in 2020.

Details: iCloud’s new encryption features should be available to all users in the US by the end of the year and the rest of the world in early 2023.

  • Apple announced additional security tools, including some that will verify the identity of those you’re messaging with and another that allows the use of hardware security keys.
  • iMessages will soon allow users to activate a tool that flags if someone is replying to messages from a different device than usual, an indication whether their account has been hijacked or spoofed.
  • Users will soon also be able to use hardware security keys to sign in to their iOS devices, eliminating easily stolen passwords and codes. iMessage security key and verification features will be available next year.

Between lines: Apple has invested various resources in recent years to protect communities at risk, including activists, journalists, and political dissidents.

In the meantime, Apple officially scrapped plans Wednesday for a controversial tool that would scan photos uploaded to iCloud for child sexual abuse materials, Wired reported.

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