Despite all the advances in science and technology, the world still seems to be as messed up as ever. Maybe more. Or, maybe we just think it is because news is instant and, for some reason, bad news travels faster than good news.
I ask the question, “Is anything really private and secure anymore?” because totalitarianism is on the rise, and for whatever their reasons, such governments do not like to govern citizens who appreciate privacy and security.
That brings me to Apple’s iPhone and Mac, macOS and iOS, Messages, and other applications– from VPNs to messaging services– where encryption is used to, well, maintain privacy and security. Apple just introduced Messages in iCloud. Turn it on and each of your Apple devices keeps messages in Messages in sync.
That seems innocuous enough, right? Messages everywhere and secured with end-to-end encryption that Apple seems to love and governments seem to loathe. Apple updated its iCloud Security details and if privacy and security are a thing for you, it’s worth a read.
iCloud secures your information by encrypting it when it’s in transit, storing it in iCloud in an encrypted format, and using secure tokens for authentication. For certain sensitive information, Apple uses end-to-end encryption. This means that only you can access your information, and only on devices where you’re signed in to iCloud. No one else, not even Apple, can access end-to-end encrypted information.
You just know that governments in Russia, China, and other authoritarian regimes just hate that. So, what’s going on over there and over there?
Both countries could demand access to such files, request backdoor keys to stored files, and perhaps even ban Apple from their countries if the iPhone maker resists. This might be a situation similar to what we saw in China recently. Sure, China doesn’t want their citizens to have VPNs, but even more important is full employment. President Trumps saber rattling at both China at North Korean ended up with a train ride, a meeting, and a much changed attitude about seeking peace in the region.
If there is anything authoritarian regimes don’t want, it’s noise in the streets, and a giant trade war could cause massive unemployment in China and elsewhere, and that kind of change is not good for the status quo or established governments.
Back to Apple. Why hasn’t Messages been banned? Russia banned the Telegram messaging app which also prevents government authorities from tapping into messages. And Telegram is developed by a rich Russian guy.
Apple, it seems, wants to get out of the privacy and security responsibility game by giving it all to customers to use however they see fit.
Messages in iCloud also uses end-to-end encryption. If you have iCloud Backup turned on, a copy of the key protecting your Messages is included in your backup. This ensures you can recover your Messages if you’ve lost access to iCloud Keychain and your trusted devices. When you turn off iCloud Backup, a new key is generated on your device to protect future messages and it is not stored by Apple.
Thank you, Apple. You have made parts of our technological lives a bit more private and secure. So, how about the rest of it? We Apple customers are online so where is the Apple VPN service? Apple has the technical chops and cash to make it happen on a worldwide basis. Tie an Apple VPN into our iTunes account, iCloud account, and Apple ID and we pay by the month for more privacy and security.
China won’t like Apple VPN. Russia won’t like Apple VPN. Apple’s customers will like Apple VPN and that can give us a bit more privacy and security in a world where it seems to be draining away every day.