New Apple Security Features Strengthen Data Protections

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If you haven’t heard, Apple’s iOS 16.2 update offers advanced user security with new data protections. This is big news for Apple users. People are sharing increasing amounts of personal information online than ever and cybercriminals are on the prowl to get their hands on it.  

In fact, the number of data breaches has tripled between 2013 and 2021. Businesses are a prime target for hackers because corporate login credentials for administrators sell for upwards of $120k on the dark web.  

What’s worse, is even organizations who have robust security practices are vulnerable to attacks. More than 60% of the 1,000 largest US companies have experienced a public data breach, and in 2021 over 50% of organizations (in every country) suffered a ransomware attack (Apple, 2022).  

Cyber threats are becoming more complex, and Apple’s new cloud security features help you to protect sensitive data. If your business uses Apple products for work activities, then you might consider employing these new measures to safeguard against attacks.  

Let’s look at what protections the features offer.  

iCloud Data Protection 

Apple has offered a file encryption system built into iPad, iPhone (iPhone 8 and onward), and Mac for years. The latest update offers Advanced Data Protection for iCloud. This feature uses end-to-end encryption to provide Apple’s highest level of cloud data security.  

Users can now protect important iCloud data that can only be decrypted on trusted devices, including:  

  • iCloud Backup  
  • Photos 
  • Notes 
  • And More 

This is in addition to 14 other sensitive data categories iCloud already protects using encryption, including iCloud Keychain and Health data. If users enable Advanced Data Protection, they have 23 protected categories.  

That leaves only three major categories unprotected – iCloud Mail, Calendar, and Contacts. These aren’t end-to-end encrypted as the services are based on unencrypted standard protocols.  

iMessage Contact Key Verification 

Apple forged the way for end-to-end data encryption in consumer communication. Both iMessage and FaceTime have used encryption since they launched. Their most recent update supplies an added level of security for those who want, or need, it.  

With iMessage Contact Key Verification users who face high levels of digital threats can verify they are communicating with the person they expect. This layer of security will prove useful for leaders working with/in the:  

  • Government 
  • Healthcare 
  • Media 
  • And more  

Users who are conversing with iMessage Contact Key Verification enabled receive automatic alerts if an advanced attacker managed to breach cloud servers – allowing them to listen in on encrypted conversations. The alert that shows up on the user’s screen, reads: 

An unrecognized device may have been added to [Name]’s account… 

Apple went a step further and provided a Contact Verification Code that users can compare through another secure call, FaceTime, or in person. 

Most people will not need this level of sophisticated protection. Still, those in positions who are likely to be targeted by complex cyber attacks will benefit from the security and peace of mind these new features provide. 

Security Keys for Apple ID 

Apple started using two-factor authentication for Apple ID in 2015. Now, users have the choice to require a physical security key to sign into their Apple ID account with the Security Keys update.  

Users who opt in use a third-party hardware security key to enhance the two-factor authentication protection – preventing an advanced attacker from gaining access to a user’s second factor in a phishing scam

Advanced Data Security for Apple Users 

Exploitation of consumer data is a flourishing business for cyber criminals. It has low barriers to entry with a potentially lucrative payout. By enabling these advanced security controls with business-related Apple devices, you can better protect corporate and consumer data from evolving threats. 

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