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Apple Actively Working to 'Double Down' on iCloud Encryption
According to yesterday's report, which cites "people familiar with the matter", Apple executives are actively considering how to bolster iCloud encryption without inconveniencing users.
Currently, encrypted data kept on the cloud service is accessible by Apple using a key, which is used for restoring account information if, for example, a user forgets their password. Apple's access also allows the company to provide relevant information it has to law enforcement agencies that approach it with proper, legal requests.
However, Apple appears to be concerned that keeping a copy of the key means it could be compromised by hackers or that the company could be legally compelled to turn it over to governments.
The news contrasts with a report earlier this month suggesting that Apple viewed privacy and security issues differently between physical devices that can be lost and its iCloud service.
However, according to The Wall Street Journal, an Apple spokesperson pointed to comments made by senior VP of software engineering Craig Federighi in reference to the company's fresh concerns. "Security is an endless race—one that you can lead but never decisively win," he wrote in a March 6 opinion piece in The Washington Post. "Yesterday's best defenses cannot fend off the attacks of today or tomorrow."
iCloud backups contain user iMessages and texts, content purchase history, photos and videos, device settings, app data, voicemail password, and health data. Any steps Apple takes to close off access to these backups are likely to further antagonize law enforcement authorities, especially given the company's current fight with the FBI over the latter's demand for help to unlock the iPhone at the center of the San Bernadino shooter investigation.
A court hearing to address the iPhone backdoor issue is scheduled for next Tuesday, March 22, the day after Apple's media event, where it is expected to introduce a new 4-inch "iPhone SE" and a new 9.7-inch iPad, as well as make additional announcements.
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