Apple has launched a big update that makes your iPhone backups more secure. Here’s how to turn it on

apple It just released software updates for iPhone, iPad, and Mac that will help keep your information stored on the company’s servers private.

For the first time ever, you can encrypt your Apple Photos, Notes, and iCloud backups—including iMessage conversations—that are saved in the cloud. That’s thanks to an optional comprehensive encryption setting called Advanced Data Protection.

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Apple encryption turns your data into code that you need a key to decrypt, and now the key to your backups is only located on your device — not in Apple’s data centers.

If you subscribe, most of what you upload to iCloud will only be available to you. And in the event of an Apple iCloud hack, most of your data will be protected, according to a statement released by Apple on December 7.

Apple does not even have access to the data when it is stored on the company’s servers. And ordered law enforcement won’t have access to it either, which has caused friction between Apple and the FBI.

Since Apple no longer has the keys to recover your data, you’ll need to set up an alternative recovery method such as a recovery contact or recovery key in case you lose access to your account. In other words, once you set up Advanced Data Protection, you’ll be responsible for recovering your data if you ever lose your device. You will no longer go to the Genius Bar to restore a backup in case of a cloud emergency.

Here’s how to set up end-to-end encryption for your iPhone’s iCloud backups.

How to set up end-to-end encryption for iPhone

Before you begin, make sure your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, and HomePods are updated with the latest software. On an iPhone, which needs to update to iOS 16.2 first, you can do so by opening Settings and then tapping General > Software Updates. Your phone will download the update and will require a reboot before it is finished.

  • Now that everything is updated, go to Settings > iCloud > Advanced Data Protection.
  • Click on “Account Recovery” or “Advanced Data Protection” to continue.
  • A notification will appear letting you know that you are responsible for restoring your data.
  • Click on “Set up account recovery”.
  • This will prompt you to add a recovery contact (or create a recovery key, but more on that later). Apple suggests choosing someone you trust to help you regain access to your account. Remember: Apple will have no access to let you in again.
  • Then, you will be prompted to send a message to that recovery contact, letting them know that they have been selected. The person you requested must agree to the request.
  • The other option, if you don’t want to trust someone else with all your iCloud data, is to set up a recovery key. This is a 28-character code that you will have to keep in a safe place until you can restore your backups.
  • Next, you will be asked to verify the recovery key by rewriting it. Once you do that, the recovery key will be enabled.
  • Once you turn on Advanced Data Protection, you will have to enter your iPhone password to enable it.

This is it! Just remember: If you don’t have your recovery key stored somewhere safe, or your recovery contact isn’t set up, your data is good as is.

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