A recent report published by Apple has revealed that data breaches have exposed 2.6 billion personal records in just the past two years. It’s an eye-opening reminder to do everything you can to secure your sensitive information. One way is to enable Advanced Data Protection if you have an Apple device.
You’re absolutely right if you feel like you’re seeing more and more data breaches lately. Data breaches have more than tripled in number between 2013 and 2022, according to a study conducted by Dr Stuart Madnick from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Unfortunately, 2023 saw that rate continue to climb.
When we think of major Australian incidents, the Optus breach and Medibank hack spring to mind. Apple’s report found that Australia is the fourth most-targeted country in the world for ransomware attacks. This year’s ransomware attack on Latitude Financial impacted around 14 million people, highlighting the importance of data security.
Hacks, leaks, and breaches will continue to happen but you can minimise their impact on your information such as passwords, health information, and more. Apple says end-to-end encryption is vital to protecting cloud-based data.
Simply put, it means that data is only readable on the target devices. Using your phone as an example, you can access passwords on your device, but the online backup is encrypted so that even if the data gets out, no one else can do anything with it. It can only be decrypted by your device.
How to turn on Advanced Data Protection
Introduced here with the release of iOS 16.3, Advanced Data Protection is an optional setting that increases the number of iCloud apps that use end-to-end encryption. By default, iCloud already uses this type of encryption for data for passwords, payment information, and more.
When you turn on Advanced Data Protection, the number of categories that use end-to-end encryption increases from 14 to 23, including information stored on your Notes and Photos apps. If a breach happens, third parties can’t decrypt your data, essentially making it meaningless to everyone but you. Apple has a full list of end-to-end encryption categories on its website.
An important disclaimer is that Apple can’t help with data recovery if you lose account access. Only devices you designate can encrypt your data. You can assign a recovery contact or save a recovery key, but you’re on your own otherwise.
To turn on Advanced Data Protection, go to System Settings on either an iPhone, iPad or Mac. Select your name at the top followed by iCloud. Here, you can find Advanced Data Protection and enable the setting by following the instructions.
Considering that data stored in the cloud is the majority affected by data breaches, it makes sense to take every reasonable precaution possible.