Apple has announced a major update to its data privacy protection for iCloud, giving users of the cloud storage platform a significant security upgrade.
New advanced privacy features include iMessage power key verification, which is intended to provide additional security based on SMS, and advanced data protection for iCloud.
While the announcement hints that the new features are primarily designed for high-profile targets (journalists, dissidents, human rights activists, political opposition, etc.), they will be available to all consumers, offering a welcome boost against threats to the security.
Fight against "exceptionally advanced" opponents.
Advanced Data Protection for iCloud is designed to protect users' data even in the event of a cloud breach.
It does this by making sure that sensitive data is only decrypted on trusted devices. iCloud currently protects 14 categories of sensitive data with end-to-end encryption, but Apple is now increasing that number to 23, adding iCloud Backup, Notes, and Photos to the mix.
The only major categories of iCloud data that aren't covered are iCloud Mail, Contacts and Calendar because they must interact with the global mail, contacts and calendar systems, Apple said.
“As threats to user data become more sophisticated and complex, these new features join a suite of other protections that make Apple products the most secure on the market,” the company said.
Verifying the iMessage power key will allow users to further verify that the person they are talking to is the only one receiving the messages they send. Users who have enabled the feature will receive a notification in case an "exceptionally advanced adversary, such as a state-sponsored attacker" manages to breach Apple's cloud servers and insert a spying device. Additionally, iMessage Contact Key Verification users can compare a contact verification code in person, on FaceTime or over another secure call, Apple added.