Apple Announces End-to-End Encryption Option for iCloud Photos, Notes, Backups, and More

Apple today announced it is expanding end-to-end encryption to many additional iCloud data categories on an opt-in basis for enhanced security.

Apple advanced security Advanced Data Protection screen Feature
iCloud already protects 14 data categories using end-to-end encryption by default, including the Messages app when backups are disabled, passwords stored in iCloud Keychain, Health data, Apple Maps search history, Apple Card transactions, and more, as outlined in this Apple support document. With the optional Advanced Data Protection feature, the number of iCloud data categories that use end-to-end encryption rises to 23.

Advanced Data Protection will be available on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac starting with iOS 16.2, iPadOS 16.2, and macOS 13.1 later this month and provides end-to-end encryption for the following additional iCloud categories:

  • Device Backups and Messages Backups
  • iCloud Drive
  • Notes
  • Photos
  • Reminders
  • Voice Memos
  • Safari Bookmarks
  • Siri Shortcuts
  • Wallet Passes

Apple says the only major iCloud data categories that are still not protected by end-to-end encryption are Mail, Contacts, and Calendar because of the "need to interoperate with the global email, contacts, and calendar systems" that use legacy technologies.

Advanced Data Protection for iCloud is available to test starting with the latest iOS 16.2, iPadOS 16.2, and macOS 13.1 beta versions being released today. Apple says the optional security feature will be available to U.S. users by the end of the year and will start rolling out to the rest of the world in early 2023.

End-to-end encrypted iCloud data can only be decrypted on your trusted Apple devices where you're signed in with your Apple ID account, ensuring that the data remains secure even in the case of a data breach in the cloud. Not even Apple has access to the encryption keys, so if you lose access to your account, you can only recover the data using your device passcode or password, recovery contact, or recovery key. Users will be guided to set up at least one recovery contact or recovery key before they turn on Advanced Data Protection.

"Advanced Data Protection is Apple's highest level of cloud data security, giving users the choice to protect the vast majority of their most sensitive iCloud data with end-to-end encryption so that it can only be decrypted on their trusted devices," said Ivan Krstić, Apple's head of Security Engineering and Architecture. "For users who opt in, Advanced Data Protection keeps most iCloud data protected even in the case of a data breach in the cloud."

You can turn off Advanced Data Protection at any time. Upon doing so, your device will securely upload the required encryption keys to Apple servers, and your account will revert to a standard level of protection, according to Apple.

When Advanced Data Protection is enabled, access to your data via iCloud.com is disabled by default. Users have the option to turn on data access on iCloud.com, which allows the web browser and Apple to have temporary access to data-specific encryption keys.

Advanced Data Protection is designed to maintain end-to-end encryption for most shared iCloud content as long as all participants have Advanced Data Protection enabled, including iCloud Shared Photo Library, iCloud Drive shared folders, and shared Notes. However, Apple says iWork collaboration, the Shared Albums feature in Photos, and sharing content with "anyone with a link" do not support Advanced Data Protection.

For a more technical overview of Advanced Data Protection, read the iCloud security overview and the Apple Platform Security guide.

Related Roundups: iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS Ventura
Related Forums: iOS 16, macOS Ventura

Top Rated Comments

MakeAppleAwesomeAgain Avatar
9 weeks ago
This is huge. Props to Apple!
Score: 53 Votes (Like | Disagree)
andrewxgx Avatar
9 weeks ago
google, microsoft, and governments all over the world right now:



Attachment Image
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)
velocityg4 Avatar
9 weeks ago
Now my cat photos and grocery lists will be more protected than ever!
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SwiftArtery Avatar
9 weeks ago
Nice! Especially that backups are included too.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
samwa3 Avatar
9 weeks ago
Credit where credit is due. This sounds really good. Never thought I'd see the day where my iCloud Drive and Photos will be secured by E2E encryption.

[S]Still, device-side scanning of my photos is NOT ok and this will not change anything about that issue.[/S] Well, that got sorted out apparently. Great!
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
appleguy123 Avatar
9 weeks ago
Awesome. This is the #1 feature I’ve wanted from Apple years. Very brave to challenge law enforcement and hostile governments like this.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 16

iOS 16.3 Now Available for Your iPhone With These 4 New Features

Friday February 3, 2023 1:13 pm PST by
Apple released iOS 16.3 in late January following nearly six weeks of beta testing. The software update is available for the iPhone 8 and newer, and while it is a relatively minor update, it still includes a handful of new features, changes, and bug fixes. Below, we've recapped new features in iOS 16.3, including support for physical security keys as a two-factor authentication option for...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

Gurman: Apple Considering New High-End iPhone Alongside Pro and Pro Max

Sunday February 5, 2023 6:07 am PST by
Apple has discussed selling a new top-of-the-line iPhone alongside the Pro and Pro Max models in 2024 at the earliest, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Based on this timeframe, the device would be part of the iPhone 16 lineup or later. In a September 2022 edition of his weekly "Power On" newsletter, Gurman said there was "potential" for an iPhone 15 Ultra to replace the iPhone 15 Pro...
ipad air purple

Deals: M1 iPad Air Hits Record-Low Prices at TigerDirect, Starting at $313.99 (48% Off) [Updated]

Saturday February 4, 2023 10:05 am PST by
Online retailer TigerDirect has slashed pricing on the M1 iPad Air in several colors, offering the base 64GB configuration for just $313.99 in Purple and Pink. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with TigerDirect. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. That's a savings of 48% compared to Apple's normal $599.00...
mac studio pink

Apple May Not Launch Updated Mac Studio With M2 Ultra Chip Due to Similarity With Upcoming Mac Pro

Sunday February 5, 2023 6:06 am PST by
A new version of the Mac Studio with the "M2 Ultra" chip is unlikely to arrive in the near future, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. In the latest edition of his "Power On" newsletter, Gurman explained that since the upcoming Apple silicon Mac Pro is "very similar in functionality to the Mac Studio," Apple may wait until the release of M3- or M4-series chips to update the machine, or...
HomePod 2 White and Midnight Feature Purple Orange

Apple Releases tvOS 16.3.1 and HomePod 16.3.1 Software Updates

Monday February 6, 2023 10:13 am PST by
Apple today released new tvOS 16.3.1 and HomePod 16.3.1 software updates, with the software coming two weeks after the tvOS 16.3 and HomePod 16.3 updates were released. According to Apple's release notes for HomePod software 16.3.1, the update includes general performance and stability improvements. Notes for tvOS 16.3.1 are unavailable as of yet, but are probably similar to the HomePod...
iPhone 15 Pro Blue Feature

iPhone 15 Pro 'Buttonless Design' Rumors: Everything We Know

Monday February 6, 2023 7:44 am PST by
The iPhone 15 Pro models will feature a "buttonless design" thanks to additional Taptic Engines, according to multiple corroborated reports, so what do we know about the change so far? Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo was first to report that the volume and power buttons on this year's two high-end iPhone models will adopt a solid-state design, similar to the iPhone 7's home button, replacing a...
iphone ultra concept daehnert

'iPhone Ultra' Concept Envisions Apple's Rumored Future Top-Tier Smartphone

Tuesday February 7, 2023 5:38 am PST by
Apple has reportedly considered releasing a new top-of-the-line iPhone alongside future Pro and Pro Max models, tentatively referred to as "iPhone Ultra," and one designer has taken it upon himself to envision what such a device could potentially look like. German industrial designer Jonas Daehnert came up with this impressive-looking concept (pictured) by marrying design elements of the...
webkit vs chromium feature

Google Working on Browser for iOS That Would Break Apple's App Store Rules

Saturday February 4, 2023 1:30 am PST by
Google's Chromium developers are working on an experimental web browser for iOS that would break Apple's browser engine restrictions, The Register reports. The experimental browser, which is being actively pursued by developers, uses Google's Blink engine. Yet if Google attempted to release it on the App Store, it would not pass Apple's App Review process. Apple's App Store rules dictate...