Apple plans to allow users to more tightly lock down photos and notes stored on its iCloud service and require a physical security key when logging in from a new device, it said on Wednesday.
The forthcoming options, along with another security measure for Apple’s iMessage chat program, are particularly aimed at celebrities, journalists, activists, politicians, and other high-profile individuals heavily targeted by hackers, the company said.
The iPhone maker said that though it was not aware of breaches to iCloud servers or iMessage exchanges, hacking attempts are increasing.
According to Apple, iCloud currently protects 14 sensitive data categories with end-to-end encryption technology. These include passwords in iCloud Keychain and Health data. The company has announced support for end-to-end encrypted backups, which will bring the total number of data categories protected to 23, including iCloud Backup, Notes, and Photos.
US users will be able to activate the free Advanced Data Protection for iCloud storage by the end of the year. When turned on, Apple cannot help users recover photos, notes, voice memos and about 20 other types of data if they forget their password. It will expand globally next year.
The option to require plugging a security fob into a new device to access an Apple account is expected to roll out next year. Rival Alphabet’s Google already supports such hardware keys, which are certified by industry body FIDO and cost about $25 (roughly Rs. 2,000).
On iMessage, conversations between users who enable the new Contact Key Verification next year would receive automated alerts about unrecognised devices potentially snooping on the exchange. Users can manually verify their communication is secure by matching up security codes, too. Secure chat services such as Signal offer comparable features.
© Thomson Reuters 2022