Image source: New York Times
Apple: On Wednesday, the tech giants announced plans to expand end-to-end data encryption to strengthen user data protection.
The extension covers backups, photos, notes, chat history and other services.
However, Apple’s plan will increase tensions with law enforcement agencies around the world.
The new security tools add a new feature called Advanced Data Protection.
It allows users to protect specific data from hackers, government, spies and Apple data leaks.
Additionally, the extension will prevent law enforcement from accessing the data.
Apple’s end-to-end encryption ensures that even the platform cannot access the data.
Only the sender and the recipient have access to the data.
As a result, the tech giant cannot honor requests to disclose data stored in the cloud to investigators.
Apple previously butted heads with law enforcement over attempts to access device data.
An instance came when the FBI tried to break into the iPhone of one of the shooters from the 2015 attack in San Bernardino, California.
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Apple recently made privacy an essential pillar of user pitch through a mix of new tools, including a feature to protect journalists and human rights activists from spyware.
The company has framed the expansion as part of its efforts to combat increasingly complex threats to user data from hackers and a spike in data breaches.
Privacy groups have been urging Apple to increase encryption for iCloud backups for years.
Craig Federighi is the senior vice president of software engineering at Apple.
He spoke to the Wall Street Journal about some of the steps the company took more than a decade ago in designing iCloud and how it encrypts its data needed to build to date.
Apple published a blog post stating that iCloud already protects 14 categories of sensitive data with standard end-to-end encryption.
Categories include Passwords in the iCloud keychain and Data Health.
It also adds nine more categories.
However, due to interoperability issues, the new list doesn’t include encryption for iCloud Mail, Contacts, and Calendar.
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Matthew Green, cryptographer and associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute, believes Apple’s move will raise the standard for others to improve encryption.
On Wednesday, he tweeted:
“Why is this a big deal? Because Apple sets the standard on what secure (consumer) cloud backup looks like.”
“Even as an opt-in feature, this move will have repercussions all over the industry as competitors chase them.”
Meanwhile, the FBI released a statement indicating that it is still concerned about the end-to-end thread and user access-only encryption.
“This hinders our ability to protect the American people from criminal acts ranging from cyber-attacks and violence against children to drug trafficking, organized crime and terrorism,” said the FBI.
“End-to-end and user-only-access encryption erodes law enforcement’s ability to combat these threats and administer justice for the American public.”