Apple has released a major new security update, changing the way that data is stored.
The new software brings “Advanced Data Protection” a feature that protects backups when they are stored on Apple’s servers. It also brings a range of other, more minor updates, such as the ability to change how the always-on display works on the iPhone 14 Pro, and a new “Apple Music Sing” karaoke mode.
The new security updates are by far the most substantial change in the new software, however. They add new encryption to backups to ensure that they cannot be read by anyone else – including Apple.
Such end-to-end encryption means that only a user is able to access their files, and Apple does not have the key that would unlock them. Apple already used end-to-end encryption on many kinds of data when they are stored in the cloud.
Until now, however, a number of “data categories” were not encrypted, such as Photos and Notes. That also included iCloud backups of a device, which meant that theoretically everything on that same device could be accessed by Apple, hackers or law enforcement.
Switching on the new tools takes the number of categories to 23, and finally encrypts those backups, meaning that the data should be more secure. It does come with a downside: if a phone is lost and a user is unable to get into their account, Apple will not be able to salvage those backups since it will be technically impossible to access them.
Some data is still not encrypted, because other apps need to be able to read data for them to work. They include contacts and calendars, for instance, which rely on third-party integrations that in turn would not work if Apple’s part of the data was encrypted.
For now, the Advanced Data Protection feature is only available to those in the US. While the new software is available to download for everyone, that tool will not be available to people in other countries.
For those people that have it, however, it can be found in the Settings app. The “Advanced Data Protection” option can be found in the iCloud settings, which should take you through the settings required to switch it on.
The Advanced Data Protection feature requires that the latest update is installed – not only on the device that is being used, but actually on all devices that are linked to that account, to avoid any problems when older devices try to access the data. Apple helpfully offers the option to remove any older devices from an account, which may be necessary if those devices have been lost, sold or otherwise are unable to be updated.
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