iOS 16.2 can increase the security of your iCloud account content by encrypting all data in your account end-to-end. Learn more about this new feature and how to enable it.
With iOS 16.2, Apple unveiled a new feature for iCloud users called Advanced Data Protection. This new feature enables end-to-end encryption of all your data stored in iCloud, with the exception of email, contacts, and calendars due to support for legacy technology.
Previously, only Keychain, Health, Home, Messages, Apple Pay, Maps, Safari, Screen Time, and Siri data were protected. This new feature brings iCloud Drive, iCloud backups, photos, notes, reminders, bookmarks, shortcuts, voice memos, and wallet cards under iCloud’s end-to-end encryption fold.
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This means that your data is encrypted on the device with a key that only your device can access. Under Advanced Data Protection, Apple stores only the encryption keys for email, contacts, and calendars. Your data is fully encrypted when it is sent to Apple and no one – not even Apple – can access this data because it is encrypted locally on the device before being sent.
This is a huge upgrade in security for those who are security conscious, but it comes with a few caveats. First, you need to create a backup key or assign a contact that can be used to restore your data if you lose your password or have any other scenario where you can’t log into your account. This will allow Apple to decrypt the data using this key or recovery method and allow you to access your account again should anything happen.
Second, if you lose this key, or if your contacts are no longer available to help you recover your account, you will lose all data stored in your iCloud account. For this reason, Apple recommends only tech- or security-conscious users to upgrade to the Advanced Data Protection feature.
If you want to upgrade your account with this new feature to add extra security, read on. We’ll walk through how to set it up.
What you need to improve the security of your Apple device
Advanced data protection only works on iOS devices with iOS 16.2 or later, iPadOS devices with iPadOS 16.2 or later, and macOS devices with macOS Ventura 13.1 or later.
Therefore, make sure your devices can run these versions and upgrade all devices to their latest version before proceeding. This ensures that all devices can still access the iCloud data after the upgrade.
Set up account recovery on iOS
Before you can enable Advanced Data Protection, you must set up an account recovery method using a recovery contact or using a recovery key that you control (Image A).
Follow these steps to get started:
- Open the Settings app on your iOS device.
- At the top, select your name | Password & Security | Account recovery.
- Add a recovery contact by tapping the button to do so and then selecting a contact.
- Generate a recovery key by tapping Recovery key and then the Create new recovery key option.
If you’ve selected a recovery contact, that contact will get an iMessage telling them what to do to accept the invite. They must accept the invitation to be your recovery contact before they can proceed.
If you have chosen to generate a recovery key, make sure you write down the recovery key and write it down or keep it safe. Do not keep this recovery key in your iCloud account in a place like Notes or Email, because if you lose access to your iCloud account, you will not be able to access this recovery key.
Enable advanced data protection on iCloud
Now that you have a recovery key, recovery contact, or both set up on your iCloud account, you can now enable the Advanced Data Protection feature on your account (Figure B).
Follow these steps to get started:
- Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
- Select your name | iCloud | Advanced data protection.
- Select the Enable advanced data protection option.
- Follow the prompts to enable the feature.
If you used a recovery key method, the installation process prompts you to provide that key to Apple to verify that your key is valid and correct before continuing.
Once complete, your iCloud account will be upgraded with end-to-end encryption and the following services will use end-to-end encryption to protect your data:
- Device backup
- Backups of messages
- iCloud drive
- Safari Bookmarks
- Siri Shortcuts
- Voice Memos
- Wallet passes
You can learn more about this feature and reach out for help through Apple’s support documentation for the Advanced data protection feature.
Learn more about this topic with these tutorials: Using multiple windows with Stage Manager in iPadOS 16 and how to use the intelligence features in iOS 16.