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Advanced Data Protection for iCloud offers end-to-end encryption for sensitive data


These features include iMessage Contact Key Verification, which allows users to verify they are communicating with the intended contacts; Security Keys for Apple ID, which gives users the option to require a physical security key to sign in to their Apple ID account; and Advanced Data Protection for iCloud, which uses end-to-end encryption to provide Apple's highest level of cloud data security for iCloud Backup, Photos, Notes, and more.

Advanced Data Protection for iCloud

Apple has long been a leader in device security, with Data Protection, a sophisticated file encryption system built into its devices, providing industry-leading data security. Advanced Data Protection for iCloud takes this even further, giving users the choice to protect their most sensitive iCloud data with end-to-end encryption that can only be decrypted on trusted devices. This is especially important in light of the rising threat to consumer data in the cloud, "as the number of data breaches more than tripled between 2013 and 2021, exposing 1.1 billion personal records across the globe in 2021 alone" (statement of security experts, which Apple mentioned in their press release).

In addition to these new features, Apple has a suite of other protections in place to make its products the most secure on the market, including device encryption and data protections built into its custom chips, and features like Lockdown Mode, which offers an extreme level of security for users such as journalists, human rights activists, and diplomats.

iMessage Contact Key Verification

iMessage Contact Key Verification is an additional layer of security for users who face extraordinary digital threats, such as journalists, human rights activists, and members of government. This feature provides automatic alerts if a highly sophisticated cyberattack succeeds in breaching cloud servers and inserting a device to eavesdrop on encrypted communications. For even higher security, users can compare a Contact Verification Code in person, on FaceTime, or through another secure call.

Security Keys

Security Keys is a new feature that allows users to make use of third-party hardware security keys to enhance two-factor authentication for their Apple ID. This feature is designed for users who face concerted threats to their online accounts, such as celebrities, journalists, and members of government. Security Keys strengthens Apple's two-factor authentication by requiring a hardware security key as one of the two factors, making it even more difficult for an advanced attacker to obtain a user's second factor in a phishing scam.


Availability of these security features varies. iMessage Contact Key Verification will be available globally in 2023, while Security Keys for Apple ID will be available globally in early 2023. Advanced Data Protection for iCloud is currently available in the US for members of the Apple Beta Software Program, and will be available to all US users by the end of the year. This will start rolling out to the rest of the world in early season of 2023. A complete technical overview of Advanced Data Protection can be found in the Platform Security Guide, along with the data breach research "The Rising Threat to Consumer Data in the Cloud" by Dr. Stuart Madnick.


Overall, these new security features demonstrate Apple's commitment to strengthening both device and cloud security, and to adding new protections over time. As Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering, said, "Our security teams work tirelessly to keep users' data safe, and with iMessage Contact Key Verification, Security Keys, and Advanced Data Protection for iCloud, users will have three powerful new tools to further protect their most sensitive data and communications."

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