iCloud is generally secure overall. It employs high-quality encryption protocols, and it secures data processing end-to-end. Not to mention, Apple is dedicated to user privacy, regardless of where they live.
To make your iCloud even safer, you can:
- Enable two-factor authentication on your account.
- Enable Find My services for your devices.
- Turn on “HideMyEmail”, if you have iCloud+.
- Sign out of all browsers that you’re not using.
- Manage apps that look you up by your Apple ID.
- Use a strong password for your Apple account.
- Subscribe to a password manager. This is the safest way to secure an Apple account on your end.
In our opinion, the best password manager is 1Password. It’s reliable, secure, and affordable.
The iCloud is Apple’s cloud storage and cloud computing service. Launched in October 2011, it’s a cornerstone of all Apple’s services. It’s where users can store their photos, videos, contacts, sync their calendar, notes, and a lot more.
So it’s imperative that you take iCloud security very seriously. But, many people are not sure if iCloud is inherently safe, especially given hacks in the past. So, is data stored safely for the average iCloud user? Or is iCloud a danger to one’s online privacy?
In this article, we will go through all the security and safety protocols that Apple employs to protect user data. We’re also going to review appropriate safety measures that users can take to safeguard their data.
Is Apple iCloud Secure?
All in all, iCloud security is strong. The iCloud has excellent and very transparent encryption protocols. They use end-to-end encryption for all data on the platform, whether it’s in storage or in transit.
Even when it’s stored on third-party databases, those third parties are mandated by Apple to uphold a rigorous standard of safety.
Most data stored on the iCloud is secured with at least 128-bit AES encryption. This includes Backups, Calendars, Contacts, Photos, Reminders, Short memos, and many more, all stored with incredibly robust encryption.
Whenever you access the iCloud.com domain, your session is additionally encrypted with TLS 1.2.
Apple is known for its dedication to privacy and data security. It’s even been under fire from the government because they refuse to share sensitive data (more information on that below).
Apple takes platform security very seriously, using different measures:
- Advanced hardware protection with T2 security chips.
- All Apple devices boot in increments, to make sure they never hand over control to a malicious party.
- Constant updates to respond to newer threats, complete with protection for roll-back attacks.
- Device-level encryption, which doesn’t even allow Apple to access some user data. This is at the core of Apple protection, and the source of a lot of controversies.
- High-security standards for all partners and App Store developers.
But that doesn’t mean that an individual account is 100% secure the moment you register your Apple ID. There are several great security options that you can enable to make your iCloud more secure.
The Best Tips to Improve Your iCloud Security
The iCloud is a safe cloud storage service. But it can be even safer, with a little tweaking of Apple account settings. Here are some options that can make your Apple device, and account, much safer:
- Enable HideMyEmail. This is an email masking service from Apple that protects your identity whenever you sign-up for third-party services. However, it’s only available with an iCloud+ subscription.
- Use the Sign Out Of All Browsers option. Don’t stay logged into more devices than you use. This service is available at the bottom of your iCloud Account Settings window, on any browser.
- Manage apps that look you up. This can be done from an Apple device or the browser. In either of those cases, access your iCloud account settings, and click on “Look Me Up.”
- Use a secure password. iCloud employs a lot of safety protocols, but they’re in vain if you use an easy-to-crack password.
- Enable two-factor authentication for your Apple ID. Access your Apple ID account settings, click on “Password and Security” and then set up two-factor authentication.
- Enable Find My, and Send Last Location. Find My is an asset tracking app that locates your Apple devices and accessories in case you lose them. You can enable it, and the Send Last Location function from the Apple ID security settings. This isn’t an iCloud setting per se, but it’s still good to have.
- Subscribe to a good password manager. A password manager is the best way to secure your Apple account. Even if iCloud was magically unpenetrable through server-wide breaches, your account can still be hacked without good passwords. In our view, the best password manager is 1Pass.
Beyond the right security settings, your online safety depends a lot on what you do while you’re on the web. If you want to stay safe and protect your information, general cybersecurity tips apply, whether you’re using iCloud, Google Drive, or any other online service. So don’t forget to read our articles on staying safe online.
So we know that the Apple iCloud is secure. They have respectable encryption, they can’t access users’ data, and you can make it all even safer with the right settings.
They also state that all Apple users benefit from the same treatment, regardless of where they live. This is good news for privacy-minded individuals that aren’t covered by exhaustive legislation like the GDPR. The thing is, we have to take Apple’s word for it. Users outside the EU can request a data report, but we don’t know if they’ll get it.
How to request or delete your Apple and iCloud data
Any user with an Apple ID can make general inquiries here. So if you have any other queries about how Apple handles your data, send them a ticket. If you want a general overview of the data Apple has on you, here’s what you can do:
- Log in to your Apple ID from a browser.
- Go to Manage Your Account.
- Click on “Personal Information.”
- Review and change the personal information and iCloud data Apple stores about you.
You can also use the “Manage Your Account” window to get advanced information about your data, as well as delete or deactivate your account. Here’s how:
- Go to Privacy in the Manage Your Account tab.
- Click on My Data. This will take you to a different domain, Apple’s privacy platform.
- Log into your Apple ID again on the Apple privacy platform.
- 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.
The Fight for a Backdoor Into Apple iCloud
After the tragic San Bernardino shooting in 2016, the FBI wanted a backdoor into a person’s iPhone to access confidential information. Apple refused this request, fearing that a backdoor could endanger the platform’s overall security. They even went to court with the FBI because of it, and the legal battle was brutal.
But that incident heralded a new age for Apple, one in which their hermetic and secure infrastructure might be put to the test. In 2016, privacy-minded users were able to rest assured. Apple didn’t create any backdoor into the iCloud.
But recently, a mechanism for flagging and reporting child pornography was announced by Apple and other tools to protect child safety. While any efforts to limit child abuse are laudable, the news had a mixed reception. Advocates from child protection services hailed it, while privacy advocacy groups warned against a slippery slope.
This new development brought the “Apple backdoor” discussion back into the forefront, but the future is unclear.
For now, the system has not been implemented. The update was delayed indefinitely, and we don’t know if it will ever be implemented. If it’s ever rolled out, we don’t know whether or not it’ll be a dangerous precedent.
For now, it’s something iCloud users should keep an eye on.
Removing your photos and videos from the iCloud
Because of the announced update, some people fear that Apple will begin breaching user privacy at every turn, to analyze their images. Others are just scared of possible security breaches of iCloud or other Apple services. Either way, some people don’t want their photos and videos on iCloud.
If that sounds like a good idea to you, here’s what you need to do:
- Open Settings on any Apple device.
- Click on your Apple ID.
- Click on iCloud.
- Search for “Photos” in the list of synced file types.
- Untick the box next to Photos / Turn off Photo sync.
iCloud Security: How Data Recovery Works
Another considerable benefit of Apple devices is their ability to recover iCloud data for Apple users. And since all storage is end-to-end encrypted, you don’t have to worry about your recovered data passing through prying eyes.
If you want to recover deleted files from Apple iCloud, here’s what you’ll have to do:
- Log into the iCloud.
- Go to iCloud Drive
- Look at the bottom-right corner of the screen
- Click on Recently Deleted
- Choose the file you want to restore.
How to restore old files using an iCloud backup
If you acquired a new Apple device, and you want your old files back, here’s what you can do, as long as you have an iCloud backup:
- Log into your iCloud account.
- Go to iCloud Settings.
- Look under “Advanced” in the bottom-left corner.
- Choose the data type you want to recover.
Conclusion: iCloud’s Security and Privacy
Despite an unclear future in some areas, iCloud is an undeniably secure platform today. Its end-to-end encryption and dedicated security infrastructure make it a safe place to store your photos, videos, documents, and contacts.
If you want to find out more about the safety of platforms you use every day, don’t forget to read our articles on:
If you’re still curious about iCloud security, we have more answers to your queries down below. And if we forgot to cover anything, don’t shy away from the comments section!
Yes, iCloud is as safe from hackers as a platform can get. They employ end-to-end encryption, as well as an advanced security structure. But that doesn’t mean your individual iCloud account is as safe as it can be. Find out how to use the most secure iCloud settings.
Yes, your iCloud photo library is private. It’s encrypted on Apple’s servers. But that’s not enough reassurance for everyone. If you fear hacks, or if you want to keep your photos away from Apple’s servers, read our article to find out how to stop iCloud from accessing your gallery.
No, as long as you don’t share your photos with anyone, they’re only accessible to you. At least officially. The images are encrypted on Apple’s servers when they’re on the iCloud, so a security breach can endanger your files as well. If you want to stop iCloud from accessing your photos and videos, read our article on iCloud security.