Apple plans new encryption system to ward off hackers and protect iCloud data

Apple Inc. is planning to significantly expand its data-encryption practices, a step that is likely to create tensions with law enforcement and governments around the world as the company continues to build new privacy protections for millions of iPhone users.

The expanded end-to-end encryption system, an optional feature called Advanced Data Protection, would keep most of the iCloud’s data secure, even in the event that Apple is hacked. It would also prevent Apple from being able to provide data from iCloud phone backups in response to law-enforcement requests. 

While Apple has drawn attention in the past for being unable to help agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation access data on its encrypted iPhones, it has been able to provide much of the data stored in iCloud backups upon a valid legal request. Last year, it responded to thousands of such requests in the U.S., according to the company. 

People walk by an Apple store in Shanghai

People wearing face masks walk their dogs past an Apple store on a shopping street, after the lockdown placed to curb the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak was lifted in Shanghai, China June 1, 2022. REUTERS/Aly Song (REUTERS/Aly Song / Reuters Photos)

With these new security enhancements, Apple would no longer have the technical ability to comply with certain law-enforcement requests such as for iCloud backups—which could include iMessage chat logs and attachments and have been used in many investigations.


The company said the security enhancements, which were announced Wednesday, are designed to protect Apple customers from the most sophisticated attackers.

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“As customers have put more and more of their personal information of their lives into their devices, these have become more and more the subject of attacks by advanced actors,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, in an interview.  Some of these actors are going to great lengths to get their hands…