Apple has just released software updates for iPhone, iPad and Mac that will help keep the information stored on the company’s servers even more private.
For the first time ever, you can encrypt your Apple Photos, Notes and iCloud backups, including your iMessage conversations, which are kept in the cloud. This is thanks to an optional end-to-end encryption setting called Advanced Data Protection.
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Apple’s encryption encrypts your data into a code you need a key to decrypt, and now the key for your backups exists only on your device, not in Apple’s data centers.
If you consent, most of what you upload to iCloud will only be accessible to you. And in the event of an iCloud hack from Apple, most of your data would be protected, according to a statement released by Apple on Dec. 7.
Apple can’t even access the data when it’s stored on the company’s servers. And even law enforcement with a warrant couldn’t access it, which caused friction between Apple and the FBI.
Since Apple will no longer have the keys to recover your data, you will need to set up an alternate recovery method such as a recovery contact or recovery key in case you lose access to your account. In other words, once you’ve set up Advanced Data Protection, you’ll be responsible for recovering your data if your device is lost. No more going to the Genius Bar to restore a backup in case of a cloud disaster.
Here’s how to set up end-to-end encryption for your iPhone’s iCloud backups.
How to set up end-to-end encryption for iPhone
Before you begin, make sure your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, and HomePod are all updated to the latest software. On an iPhone, which needs to be updated to iOS 16.2 first, you can do this by opening Settings and tapping General > Software Updates. Your phone will download the update and require a restart before it is finished.
- Now that everything is up to date, go to Settings > iCloud > Enhanced Data Protection.
- Tap “Account Recovery” or “Advanced Data Protection” to proceed.
- A notification will appear informing you that you are responsible for recovering your data.
- Tap “Set up account recovery”.
- This will prompt you to add a recovery contact (or generate a recovery key, but more on that later). Apple suggests choosing someone you trust to help you regain access to your account. Remember: Apple will have no access to let you back in.
- Next, you’ll be prompted to send a message to that recovery contact, notifying them that they’ve been selected. The person you asked will need to approve the request.
- The other option, if you don’t want to trust someone else with all of your iCloud data, is to set up a recovery key. This is a 28-character code that you will need to keep in a safe place so that you can restore your backups.
- After that, you will be asked to verify your recovery key by typing it again. Once done, your recovery key will be enabled.
- Once Enhanced Data Protection is turned on, you will need to enter your iPhone password to enable it.
That’s all! Just remember: if you don’t have your recovery key stored in a safe place or your recovery contact set up, your data is pretty much gone.