It may be more difficult for hackers and other intruders to grab your iCloud data. Apple is introducing a trio of security measures that include Advanced Data Protection, an optional feature that applies end-to-end encryption to more iCloud data. While Apple was already protecting 14 data categories, the new offering protects 23 — including iCloud device backups, photos and notes. Your calendar, contacts and iCloud Mail are still unencrypted to support global systems.
Advanced Data Protection is available to try in the US today as part of the Apple Beta Software Program. Americans will have broader access by the end of 2022. Other countries will have access sometime in early 2023. You’ll have to set up an alternative recovery method if you enable the technology, as Apple won’t have the keys needed to salvage your data.
The two further safeguards are aimed more at preventing misuses of accounts and devices. iMessage Contact Key Verification will help those who face “extraordinary” threats (such as activists, government officials and journalists) ensure that chat participants are authentic. You’ll get an automatic alert if a state-sponsored hacker or similar intruder manages to add a rogue device to an account. Users with the feature enabled can even compare verification codes through FaceTime, secure calls and in person.
iCloud users will also have the option of using hardware security keys as part of two-factor authentication. This includes both plug-in keys as well as NFC keys that only need to sit close to your iPhone. Both the iMessage and security key protections will be available worldwide in 2023.