Apple just released software updates for iPhone, iPad and Mac that will help keep your information stored on the company’s servers even more private.
For the first time ever, you can encrypt Apple Photos, Notes, and iCloud backups—including iMessage conversations—that are stored 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 that you need a key to decrypt, and the key for backups now only exists on your device — not in Apple’s data centers.
If you sign in, most of what you upload to iCloud will be accessible only to you. And if Apple’s iCloud was hacked, most of your data would be protected, according to a statement Apple released on Dec. 7.
Apple doesn’t even have access to the data when it’s stored on the company’s servers. And even law enforcement with a warrant wouldn’t be able to access it, causing friction between Apple and the FBI.
Since Apple will no longer have the keys to restore 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 set up advanced data protection, you’ll be responsible for recovering your data if you lose your device. No more going to the Genius Bar to restore your backup in case of a cloud emergency.
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, and Mac and HomePods are updated to the latest software. On an iPhone that needs to be updated to iOS 16.2 first, you can do so by opening Settings and then tapping General > Software Update. Your phone will download the update and it will require a reboot before it finishes.
- Now that everything is updated, go to Settings > iCloud > Advanced Data Protection.
- Tap “Account Recovery” or “Advanced Data Protection” to continue.
- A warning will appear informing you that you are responsible for restoring 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 asked to send a message to that recovery contact to let them know they’ve been selected. The person you requested will need to approve the request.
- Another option if you don’t want to trust someone else with all your iCloud data is to set up a recovery key. This is a 28-digit code that you will need to keep in a safe place in order to restore your backups.
- Next, you will be asked to verify your recovery key by entering it again. Once you do so, the recovery key will be activated.
- Once you turn on Advanced Data Protection, you’ll need to enable it by entering your iPhone passcode.
And it is done! Remember: If you don’t have a recovery key stored in a safe place or a recovery contact set up, your data is fine.
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