21 votes

Apple dropped plan for encrypting backups after FBI complained

9 comments

  1. [4]
    JXM
    Link
    I'll keep this in mind whenever Apple goes on about how strong their privacy protections are at their next event.

    I'll keep this in mind whenever Apple goes on about how strong their privacy protections are at their next event.

    18 votes
    1. [3]
      anahata
      Link Parent
      They're still strong, much stronger than Google's and most others', just not as strong as you perhaps believed beforehand. It doesn't need to be a binary "can't trust them at all" || "can trust...

      They're still strong, much stronger than Google's and most others', just not as strong as you perhaps believed beforehand. It doesn't need to be a binary "can't trust them at all" || "can trust them completely".

      15 votes
      1. [2]
        JXM
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I completely agree, but Apple seems to get a pass for a lot of privacy related stuff just because they push "we care about your privacy" in their marketing. I say this as someone who owns tons of...

        I completely agree, but Apple seems to get a pass for a lot of privacy related stuff just because they push "we care about your privacy" in their marketing.

        I say this as someone who owns tons of Apple stuff both for personal and professional use.

        12 votes
        1. HoolaBoola
          Link Parent
          Yeah, sadly the best option often seems very good if all the others are just bad. Apple outshines its competitors in this aspect, which makes people trust them more, which then equates to a high...

          Yeah, sadly the best option often seems very good if all the others are just bad. Apple outshines its competitors in this aspect, which makes people trust them more, which then equates to a high view of them even if they're not that particularly good.

          7 votes
  2. [2]
    Kuromantis
    Link
    Does Apple hold any power here? They're the largest US company and the only one who focuses on privacy, meaning the FBI has a vested interest in keeping them quiet and since they're a US company,...

    Does Apple hold any power here? They're the largest US company and the only one who focuses on privacy, meaning the FBI has a vested interest in keeping them quiet and since they're a US company, the FBI has the power to do so and if Apple doesn't Tim Cook goes the way of Jeffrey Epstein, right?

    5 votes
    1. MatterHorned
      Link Parent
      At the very least, Apple has the power to tone down their marketing claims, so that they don't mislead consumers who don't read the fine print or pay attention to tech news.

      At the very least, Apple has the power to tone down their marketing claims, so that they don't mislead consumers who don't read the fine print or pay attention to tech news.

      8 votes
  3. [3]
    hwb
    Link
    For those interested in maximizing their privacy, you should disable iCloud backups, as well as Messages integration with iCloud. Finally, set up encrypted local backups. This will establish full...

    For those interested in maximizing their privacy, you should disable iCloud backups, as well as Messages integration with iCloud. Finally, set up encrypted local backups. This will establish full end-to-end encryption for all your data, without sharing any of the keys with Apple (they say).

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      tildez
      Link Parent
      Aren't Messages e2e encrypted with a device key or something? I thought that was why there was no web interface and if you want to add a device to your Messages account you need a device that's...

      Aren't Messages e2e encrypted with a device key or something? I thought that was why there was no web interface and if you want to add a device to your Messages account you need a device that's already on it.

      Maybe there's some weasel wording in here that I'm not picking up on but it sounds like even if you backup your Messages to iCloud they are encrypted.

      For your convenience, iMessages are backed up in iCloud and encrypted if you have either iCloud Backup or Messages in iCloud enabled.

      https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT209110

      4 votes
      1. hwb
        Link Parent
        This is the crucial ambiguity: The device key is used to perform E2E encryption, always. However, if iCloud Message backups are enabled, copies of the conversation keys are uploaded to Apple. This...

        This is the crucial ambiguity:

        [...] there’s no way for Apple to decrypt the content of your conversations when they are in transit between devices.

        The device key is used to perform E2E encryption, always. However, if iCloud Message backups are enabled, copies of the conversation keys are uploaded to Apple. This is so that you can, for example, pick up a conversation where you left off on a different device. If they were using private keys located only on the involved devices, you wouldn't be able to see old messages on other devices, which naturally would have different private keys.

        From here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202303

        Messages in iCloud also uses end-to-end encryption. If you have iCloud Backup turned on, your backup includes a copy of the key protecting your Messages. This ensures you can recover your Messages if you lose access to iCloud Keychain and your trusted devices. When you turn off iCloud Backup, a new key is generated on your device to protect future messages and isn't stored by Apple.

        Of course, if Apple has a backup of your keys, then they can read your messages (edit: or provide those keys to third parties which request them). They just can't read them while in transit, only at rest on the server.

        3 votes