Do you use iCloud as your primary cloud storage service but don’t know if it is safe and secure? Check out all the details in our guide, ‘Is iCloud Safe?‘
If you’re Apple iPad,iPhone, or a Mac user then you must have heard of iCloud. iCloud is a cloud-based service that users can avail themselves of for a small fee. This service gives you some extra storage and also periodically syncs all your data including photos, emails, and contacts to create a safe backup.
Even though there were some hiccups in iCloud’s past, Apple promises that iCloud is secure and their user’s privacy is in safe hands.
So today in this article, let’s look at some of the security features of iCloud and its benefits, the security-related incidents that took place in iCloud history, and also answer the most important question of this article – Is iCloud safe?
Related: How to Access the Dark Web Safely
Is iCloud Safe?
What is iCloud?
Apple’s cloud computing and storage system, iCloud, has been available to iOS users since October 2011. Your photos, movies, contacts, calendars, notes, and everything else that has made Apple products and software the favorite of user-friendliness lovers are stored here if you’re an Apple user.
Every user of an Apple device can access iCloud, which comes with a set amount of free storage. (Consider it as being similar to what Google Drive offers Android users.) As an illustration, a user can utilize up to 5GB of storage for free, but by upgrading to iCloud+ for the premium membership, they can access additional storage and premium features.
How does iCloud work?
The iCloud is designed in such a way that all your Apple devices can be connected. This data can be accessed from various gadgets as long as it’s on iCloud.
Regardless of the device, they are initially stored on, iCloud makes it easy for you to access your photos, videos, documents, and more.
For example, if you have photos stored on your iPad but want to view them on your iPhone, you can sync and view them as long as both devices are connected to iCloud.
iCloud Data types and encryption
The advanced data security and basic data protection methods used by iCloud to safeguard your data are displayed in the table below.
|Data category||Advanced data protection – Key storage||Encryption Type||Standard data protection – Key storage||Encryption Type|
|Calendars||Apple||In transit and on server||Apple||In transit and on server|
|iCloud Mail||Apple||In transit and on server||Apple||In transit and on server|
|Contacts||Apple||In transit and on server||Apple||In transit and on server|
|iCloud Drive||Trusted devices||End-to-end||Apple||In transit and on server|
|iCloud Backup (including device and messages backup)||Trusted devices||End-to-end||Apple||In transit and on server|
|Reminders||Trusted devices||End-to-end||Apple||In transit and on server|
|Photos||Trusted devices||End-to-end||Apple||In transit and on server|
|Notes||Trusted devices||End-to-end||Apple||In transit and on server|
|Safari Bookmarks||Trusted devices||End-to-end||Apple||In transit and on server|
|Home Data||Trusted devices||End-to-end||Trusted devices||End-to-end|
|Wallet passes||Trusted devices||End-to-end||Apple||In transit and on server|
|Passwords and Keychain||Trusted devices||End-to-end||Trusted devices||End-to-end|
|Siri shortcuts||Trusted devices||End-to-end||Apple||In transit and on server|
|Voice memos||Trusted devices||End-to-end||Apple||In transit and on server|
|Health data||Trusted devices||End-to-end||Trusted devices||End-to-end|
|Messages in iCloud||Trusted devices||End-to-end||Trusted devices||End-to-end|
|Maps||Trusted devices||End-to-end||Trusted devices||End-to-end|
|Payment information||Trusted devices||End-to-end||Trusted devices||End-to-end|
|Safari||Trusted devices||End-to-end||Trusted devices||End-to-end|
|Apple Card transactions||Trusted devices||End-to-end||Trusted devices||End-to-end|
|Screen Time||Trusted devices||End-to-end||Trusted devices||End-to-end|
|QuickType keyboard learned vocabulary||Trusted devices||End-to-end||Trusted devices||End-to-end|
|Memoji||Trusted devices||End-to-end||Trusted devices||End-to-end|
|Siri Information||Trusted devices||End-to-end||Trusted devices||End-to-end|
|W1 and H1 Bluetooth keys||Trusted devices||End-to-end||Trusted devices||End-to-end|
|Wi-Fi passwords||Trusted devices||End-to-end||Trusted devices||End-to-end|
What Are The Security Features Of iCloud?
The below features are the reasons that all your photos, emails, and other files are secure on the iCloud.
- Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) – The standard feature present in all websites today, this feature makes sure that you’re the authorized user by prompting you to enter the password and also a 6-digit code sent to your trusted device.
- Security tokens – With this, you no longer need to store your iCloud password on verified devices, as all the built-in apps like Mail, Contacts, and Calendar are authenticated using secure tokens.
- Encryption – The data that is sent and stored on the cloud will be in an encrypted form.
Is iCloud Email Safe?
According to the Apple support page, even though emails are not encrypted on the iCloud, the information that is transmitted between your email and iCloud is encrypted with TLS 1.2 (TLS or Transport Layer Security is a cryptographic protocol used to heighten security over computer networks.).
The reason why the emails are not encrypted is that they’re stored on IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) servers.
This might have been done partly due to performance reasons and also to support features like searching messages on the server or partially downloading messages and attachments. IMAP allows you to access your email when you are online.
When you access your email using IMAP, you’re directly reading it on the server rather than downloading it to your device.
So even if the data stored on the IMAP while you’re accessing your email may not be encrypted, your traffic or the data you sent to the server is encrypted.
How to make iCloud safer?
To make iCloud safer, you should,
- Enable two-factor authentication on your iCloud account.
- Enable the Find My feature for your devices.
- Turn on the HideMyEmail feature if you have iCloud+.
- Sign out of browsers that you don’t use.
- Manage apps on your Apple ID.
- Use a strong password for your Apple account.
- Use a password manager. According to us, 1Password is the top password manager. It’s trustworthy, safe, and reasonably priced.
Who Can Access My iCloud?
- Any synced Apple devices – If you’re a fan of Apple gadgets, you could have a Mac, an iPhone, and maybe even an iPad and if you have chosen to sync all your devices to iCloud, then all your files are accessible from these devices. So if you’re planning to sell your device then make sure you have turned off sync for it. You can quickly look at your iCloud’s Account Settings to see which devices have access to your iCloud.
- Anyone who has your Apple ID and password – If you have not enabled two-factor authentication then chances are someone can access your cloud by guessing your password.
- Apple itself – Even though your files are encrypted, Apple has the key for unlocking your iCloud backup files. In the past, the US govt has approached Apple to hand over files of a user where he/she is part of a case that is related to terrorism. According to a report published in Jan-2020, Apple has shared customer data with the US government in 90% of cases.
How to request or delete your Apple and iCloud data
Here, anyone with an Apple ID can ask a general question. Send Apple a ticket if you have any additional questions about how they handle your data. Here’s what you can do if you want a general overview of the information Apple holds on you:
Step 1 Log in to your Apple ID from a browser.
Step 2 Go to Manage Your Account.
Step 3 Click on “Personal Information.”
Step 4 Review and change the personal information and iCloud data Apple stores about you.
The “Manage Your Account” page also allows you to delete or deactivate your account and access detailed information about your data. This is how:
Step 1 Go to Privacy in the Manage Your Account tab.
Step 2 Click on My Data. This will take you to a different domain, Apple’s privacy platform.
Step 3 Log into your Apple ID again on the Apple privacy platform.
Step 4 Here, you can choose to:
- Get a copy of your data.
- Transfer a copy of your data (Applicable to iCloud photos and videos).
- Correct your data.
- Temporarily deactivate your account.
- Delete your account.
Security Incidents From iCloud’s Past
No product or device in the age of the internet and technology is secure including Apple’s iCloud. Even though Apple has put efforts into making iCloud secure there were few cases of data breaches in the past. Here we take a look at a few of the famous incidents that are related to iCloud.
- iCloud Phone Scam – In 2019, iPhone users started getting calls and messages, telling them their iCloud had been hacked. The cybercriminals duped them into giving their username and passwords.
- Celebgate or the Fappening – Back in 2014, iCloud was breached and hundreds of private photos belonging to celebrities(mostly women) were leaked online. The cybercriminals were able to achieve this due to a flaw present in the “Find my iPhone” feature which helped them crack celebrity passwords and usernames. A few of the celebrities who were targets of this breach are Jennifer Lawrence, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jessica Brown Findlay, and Kaley Cuoco.
- iCloud Hack in China – In 2018, thousands of iCloud customers in China fell victim to phishing scams. The Cybercriminals running this act swiped funds from users’ linked WeChat and AliPay accounts.
So, we are aware of the security of the Apple iCloud. They have good encryption, they are unable to access users’ data, and with the correct settings, you can make everything extra safer.
Start with the important information. The privacy statement published by Apple is rather clear and explains what it does with your data. They set tight guidelines for how they handle and store data, and they oblige their business partners to follow them.
Additionally, they claim that regardless of where they live, all Apple consumers receive the same benefits. For privacy-conscious people who aren’t covered by comprehensive legislation like the GDPR, this is good news. The problem is that we have to believe Apple. A data report can be requested by users outside the EU, although we are unsure if they will receive one.
For instance, Apple might delay deleting your account if local law requires them to retain transaction data. That might be comprehensible. However, Apple also provides a lot of room for ambiguous denials.
How To Improve The Security Of Your iCloud
Apple’s iCloud may come with advanced security features but there are still ways for hackers to access your files. You can avoid such problems in your case by following these simple guidelines:
- Don’t share your password with just anyone: The number 1 rule on their internet, make sure no one has access to the iCloud password or your trusted device (And if you have trusted them with it then make sure they take it to their grave). Also, make sure the password is not written in a diary or a notebook.
- Create strong passwords: Always create strong passwords (And no 123456 is not a strong password). Always make sure you mix capital letters and numbers. Trust me when I say this, Back when I created my Rediff account I used a simple password like ******** but now I have learned the skill of creating a strong password like this- ******** or this – ********.
- Always connect to secure networks: Public Wi-Fi networks are filled with cybercriminals waiting to steal your data which includes accessing your iCloud. So always make sure you’re careful when connecting to a public network. You can also make use of a VPN to keep the connection secure.
- Always update your operating system: Like I mentioned before no device is immune to attacks. Apple makes sure all its devices are secure by releasing updates, so next time you get a prompt to update your device, make sure you do not ignore it.
Do I need iCloud?
If you are having a tough time choosing if you need iCloud or not then we have listed the advantages and disadvantages of using iCloud in this table:
|If the device is stolen or broken, all files, such as photos or documents, are stored in a backup copy. You can access your files anywhere even without your primary device. You can easily view your device’s location.||People who have access to your device can look at all the files present in your iCloud.If you want more storage then you have to pay extra. Even though iCloud is compatible with Windows it works much better on a Mac system due to additional optimizations.|
Turning off sync for iCloud
If you have decided you just want to turn off the sync function for your iPhone, here are the steps you must follow:
Turning off sync on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch
On iOS you can turn off the iCloud sync by following these steps:
- Go to Settings and then click on your name.
- Tap on the iCloud option.
- Switch the iCloud features to Off. You can also choose to turn off sync for selected apps by clicking on each app.
Turning off sync on your Mac
On Mac you can turn off the iCloud sync by following these steps:
- Select System Preferences under the Apple menu.
- Select the Apple ID (If you’re using macOS Mojave or earlier, you don’t need to select the Apple ID).
- Click on the iCloud option and click or uncheck the apps you want to be synced with iCloud.
Is iCloud Safe – Conclusion
No system is 100% secure, all systems will have some or other flaw. In most cases, cybercriminals will be the first to discover and exploit it. Apple has tried its best in recent years to uphold its reputation for building safe and secure systems.
As end-users, we have to make sure we follow the safety guidelines when using iCloud.
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Hey there! I’m Chelsea and chief editor of macsecurity.org. I have always loved Apple products for its efficiency and performance. I love reviewing the latest Apple products and designing guides for old and new Apple users! And in my free time I love experimenting in the kitchen (though, it doesn’t work out 9/10 times)