Apple Adds Encryption to iCloud Backups


Apple announced on Wednesday that it will be bringing end-to-end encryption to most of iCloud with a new optional feature called Advanced Data Protection. Previously, only 14 data categories within iCloud were protected. This new feature will extend that protection to 23 data categories, including photos, notes, voice memos, reminders, Safari bookmarks, and iCloud backups of device contents.

However, not all data will be encrypted in this way. Notably, calendar and mail data will not be affected by this change. Apple says they are not covered “because of the need to interoperate with the global email, contacts, and calendar systems.”

US-based participants in the Apple Beta Software Program can start using Advanced Data Protection today, and the feature will roll out to more Americans by the end of the year. If you’re outside the US, you’ll have to wait until 2023 to use the feature, according to Apple.

Advanced Data Protection is the main focus of today’s announcement, but Apple also revealed two other privacy and security features related to iCloud. First, iCloud users can now use hardware security keys like YubiKeys. Both NFC keys and plug-in keys are supported.

Second, there is a new feature called iMessage Contact Key Verification that can alert users who are at high risk of being targeted by state-sponsored actors, such as journalists, if their conversations are being hijacked or monitored.

In addition to these announcements, Apple confirmed that it is no longer working on a controversial system that was designed to identify child sexual-abuse material on users’ iPhones. The company changed course after facing significant public backlash over privacy and security concerns.

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