NPR Yesterday wrote a story on the efforts of tech companies to protect consumer data, which included an extensive chart on how companies measure up when it comes to encryption.

While Apple was found to be encrypting iMessage end-to-end, as well as email from customers to iCloud, it was found to be one of the few global email providers based in the U.S. that does not encrypt customer email in transit between providers. That means emails that are sent from iCloud to iCloud are encrypted, but emails sent from iCloud to other providers, such as Gmail, are not encrypted.

Following the post, however, Apple told NPR that it is planning to encrypt those emails in the near future.

Apple encrypts e-mail from its customers to iCloud. However, Apple is one of the few global email providers based in the U.S. that is not encrypting any of its customers' email in transit between providers. After we published, the company told us this would soon change. This affects users of me.com and mac.com email addresses.

As noted by 9to5Mac, Apple's response to NPR mentions only Me.com and Mac.com without a mention of the newer iCloud.com email addresses, but Google's data protection transparency website suggests that outbound iCloud.com emails are not encrypted, so it is likely Apple's plans include changes to the iCloud.com domain as well.

icloudencryption
As noted by NPR, end-to-end encryption of emails sent back and forth between service providers requires cooperation between providers. Both email services involved (such as Apple and Google or Apple and Yahoo) must implement encryption, which means Apple will need to work with other email providers for true end-to-end encryption of iCloud.com email.

NPR's study also noted that many app installations and iOS updates are sent unencrypted to iPhones, as are configuration files sent from telecom companies, and pre-login browsing/shopping traffic from the Apple Store.

Top Rated Comments

iLoveiTunes Avatar
93 months ago
kudos... iCloud is pretty much my primary off-work email these days. Stopped using gmail a while back
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
chirpie Avatar
93 months ago
Kudos to NPR, that entire series was a good listen.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DryHeave Avatar
93 months ago
The NSA has complete access to information anyway, and can easily decrypt it no sweat.
Well that depends what method of encryption you're using. If you're using a one-time-pad xor method with truly random pad data, then unless an attacker has read-access to your one-time pad or you screw up and accidentally use the pad twice, nobody else is going to have even the remotest possible chance of decrypting it — no cryptologist, white hat, black hat, nor NSA, nor aliens, nor even the most advanced computer in the universe running for quadrillions of years, nor even God.

Ok, maybe God. But that's about it. Maybe Q.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
coolfactor Avatar
93 months ago
This article is quite misleading. There's two ways to protect emails in transit:

Method #1 - Encrypt the pipe that the email message travels through. This is basically the whole SSL/TLS discussion that has been in the news lately.

Method #2 - Encrypt the contents of the email message itself. This would allow the encrypted message to pass through non-encrypted pipes and still be safe. But this method is far more complicated, as it requires a certificate+handshake between the sending email client and the receiving email client.

It sounds like Apple will be ensuring that when it connects to another mail server, it will try to use an encrypted pipe, if the other server supports that whereas right now, it doesn't make that effort. That would make sense. The messages themselves won't be magically encrypted as per Method #2. That's up to the end-user to implement.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
2984839 Avatar
93 months ago
Yeah, it would be nice to have *real* encryption so even Apple cannot decrypt our messages and give them to the government.

If Apple is encrypting them with Apple's keys, this has no effect on the government because Apple can simply be ordered to hand them over, just like Lavabit was.

Apple really needs to have customers generate their own keys locally and only pass encrypted data through Apple servers to address the NSL issue. If Apple doesn't hold the keys, they can't surrender them if served with an NSL.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Westside guy Avatar
93 months ago
Good grief! They don't already do that? :eek:
Google only recently started doing this. Same thing with encryption of data between their own different server farms - twelve months ago they weren't encrypting that, either.

Then Snowden/Greenwald released a talk slide from the NSA showing that tapping those messages between server farms was one of the ways they were intercepting (specifically) Google data. That slide was shown to a pair of Google engineers, who then reportedly responded "oh (expletive)".

Google does deserve credit for moving on this quickly - but all of these companies have been playing catch-up. And really this only addresses spying by national entities. This almost certainly isn't how criminals get hold of people's mail.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Pro Display XDR Yella

Apple Working on External Display With Built-In A13 Chip

Friday July 23, 2021 9:37 am PDT by
Apple is developing an external display that includes an A13 chip with Neural Engine, according to a new rumor from 9to5Mac. The A13 chip with Neural Engine would presumably serve as an eGPU, though details are light at this time. Having a CPU/GPU built into the external display could help Macs deliver high-resolution graphics without using all the resources of the computer's internal chip....
iOS 14 on iPhone feature emergency

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1 With Fix for Touch ID Apple Watch Bug

Monday July 26, 2021 9:48 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1, minor bug fix updates that come just a week after the release of iOS 14.7, software that introduced new Apple Card features and support for the MagSafe Battery Pack. The iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to...
discount m1 macbook yellow

Deals: Shop Record Low Prices Across Apple's Full MacBook Pro and MacBook Air Lineup (Up to $499 Off)

Friday July 23, 2021 8:23 am PDT by
Apple's MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lineup is seeing all-time low discounts across the board today, including the 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro, 2020 13-inch MacBook Air, and 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. 13-Inch M1...
iphone 12 pro gold

Report: iPhone 14 Pro Models to Feature Tough Titanium Alloy Chassis

Monday July 26, 2021 1:12 am PDT by
Next year's "iPhone 14" series is expected to feature high-end models with a new titanium alloy chassis design, claims a new investors report by JP Morgan Chase. According to the report, the use of titanium alloy will be one of the biggest changes to the case design in the 2022 iPhone series, and Foxconn will be the exclusive manufacturer of the titanium frames for the high-end models....
FaceID iMac REREREREMIX

Gurman: Face ID on the Mac Coming Within a 'Couple of Years'

Sunday July 25, 2021 7:09 am PDT by
Apple plans to bring Face ID to the Mac within the next "couple of years," respected Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman said today in the latest edition of his Power On newsletter. In the newsletter, Gurman says that he believes Apple's ultimate goal is to shift all of its products to Face ID, including the lower-end iPhones such as the iPhone SE and the iPad Air, which feature Touch ID....
airpods 3 gizmochina Feature

AirPods 3 Rumored to Launch Alongside iPhone 13 at Expected September Event

Friday July 23, 2021 12:54 am PDT by
The third-generation AirPods will likely launch at the same event revealing Apple's upcoming iPhone 13 lineup, according to a report from DigiTimes, which makes the claim citing sources familiar with the matter. The report as a whole echoes previous reporting that production of the third-generation AirPods will kickstart in August, meaning a launch shortly after can be easily expected. DigiTi...
imac with accessories

Larger Redesigned High-End iMac Rumored to Launch Next Year

Monday July 26, 2021 3:45 am PDT by
Apple's larger redesigned iMac will arrive sometime in 2022 rather than later this year, according to the leaker known as "Dylandkt." On Twitter, Dylandkt claimed that Apple's "high end iMac" is not expected to release in the fourth quarter of 2021 alongside Apple's "M1X Macs" – a reference to Apple's redesigned MacBook Pro models – because "Apple simply does not want their devices to...
apple bitcoin hack

Is Apple Really Buying Bitcoin?

Monday July 26, 2021 3:07 am PDT by
A large number of websites and posts on social media are stoking rumors that Apple has purchased $2.5 billion worth of bitcoin in the company's first move into cryptocurrency, but is there any validity to the claims? Many people are citing the fact that Apple was looking for a Business Development Manager with experience in alternative payments, including cryptocurrency, earlier this year as ...
apple mac business page

Apple Shares 11 Reasons Why Business Users Should Choose Macs

Monday July 26, 2021 11:35 am PDT by
Apple today updated its Apple at Work website with a new section dedicated to the Mac, which offers up 11 reasons why "Mac means business." On the webpage, Apple highlights the M1 chip as the number one reason why business users should choose a Mac, offering up an M1 overview [PDF] that explains the benefits of the M1 chip. The information isn't new, but it does provide a look at all of...
magsafe battery pack iphone 12 mini

Top Stories: Hands-On With MagSafe Battery Pack, iPhone 13 Always-On Display?

Saturday July 24, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
Apple's new MagSafe Battery Pack is now available, and we went hands-on this week for some early impressions of the new accessory to get more battery life out of Apple's iPhone 12 lineup. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. This week also saw a number of rumors about the upcoming redesigned MacBook Pro models, the iPhone 13 lineup, the next-generation iPad mini, a new...