Can you trust Apple iCloud to keep your data safe or is it at risk?

Millions of people store their most precious files in Apple iCloud, but are they safe and secure? How much can you trust Apple?

Is Apple iCloud safe enough to backup all my photos and music or should I rely on other services? Sean Westbrook delves into this hot topic and offers advice for those trusting Apple.

Losing your data can be a real pain and sometimes result in an irreversible loss of pictures, video and other personal creations that you had stored on your system. But with the introduction of cloud backup systems, the idea that you can ever truly lose your data is becoming an antiquated concept, at least in theory.

With a multi-faceted offering of data backup services, cloud storage is often seen as the new go-to for your data backup needs. But are all cloud storage systems created equally? More specifically, can a consumer-facing cloud platform like iCloud be a safe enough destination for all your photo, music and video backup needs?

It’s easy to see why people are concerned with the current state of cloud backup systems. After all, there is an increasing number of cloud service providers vying for your attention. Choosing one an be a daunting task, and requires a fair bit of legwork in terms of comparing which cloud service provider would be the best suited for you and your data.

Not to mention that with the recent spate of malware attacks hitting thousands of computers and causing a sizable global panic regarding the power of hackers, it makes perfect sense why people would find it appropriate to question just how safe their own personal data is stored on the cloud. While some may prefer alternatives to iCloud, many will stick with the cloud offering from Apple, but want to know that their data is cared for.

Which brings us to the Apple iCloud cybersecurity question – can one of the largest consumer-facing businesses on the planet effectively ensure that all that data they store is safe?

Security measures in place

Apple iCloud security is a mixed bag in terms of what we know and don’t know about the service. Here’s what we do know: all data with the exception of emails are stored and encrypted on disk on Apple’s servers (Notes are encrypted in the latest macOS and iOS, but not some old versions). As far as security and backup systems go, that is pretty standard fare for the industry and means that, in that regard, Apple is at least as safe as other cloud service providers.

Furthermore, secure authentication tokens are created on mobile devices, allowing the retrieval of information without the constant need to transmit a password. Again, this type of authentication system is not a weak form of defence, but neither is it above and beyond any other cloud service provider.

So with this starting point as a reference, your videos, photos, calendars, contacts and all the other information that is not a note or an email are being secured with a solid, fairly standard protection method that should be more than enough to secure your data. So for those services, it should be adequate in terms of the levels of security.

iCloud settings in System Preferences on the Apple Mac

But now on to emails. Emails, especially, might give you pause, as sensitive information can be found in those pesky little missives that most people would rather not get out. After all, the U.S. presidential election had more than a few hiccups due to leaked emails, so protecting your written exchanges is naturally of paramount importance to many people.

While commercial services exist to securely transport emails with end-to-end encryption, consumers, unfortunately, are not able to access the same system.

One of the reasons that the Apple iCloud does not offer encryption on emails is possibly due to performance complications, like searching on your email server for past writings would be complicated by strong encryption. Usability, in this case, may have won over security. While there are some alternatives that allow you to encrypt your emails over iCloud, they will require some work on your end (for a more technical explanation, check out this piece here).

Notes are currently synced via the Mail application, which treats them similarly to emails and they didn't used to be encrypted, but are in the latest macOS and iOS.

What does this all mean for your data? Well, if your only concern is photos and video, as well as music, then the backup system should work fine. In the event of a catastrophic loss of information on your end, the system will be able to back you up.

As for your emails, they are theoretically vulnerable to incursions by Apple employees, but the company assures its users that it goes to great lengths to see that safeguards are in place to protect your data. Still, if even the smallest possibility of your emails being read is enough to keep you up at night, you may be better off finding a different email cloud service.

With all that being said, we don’t know the exact details concerning the type of encryption used, and we don’t know which cloud service provider powers the iCloud data store.

But most people seem to agree that the signs point towards pretty standard, well-safeguarded measures in place that will keep your data safe from prying eyes.

As for disaster recovery systems, the iCloud should be able to more than adequately serve as a backup storage location for data should you need to reclaim music, photos, videos, notes, emails, or anything else that was lost on your personal storage site.

So while Apple iCloud backup and security is not at the top of the industry, it is still more than sufficient to help you guard against data loss and hacking.


Author bio: Sean Westbrook is a content specialist for an IT Disaster Recovery Firm. Sean is a dreamer, idea generator and teller of stories. Sean is also a Basketball fan, traveler, and vintage furniture lover.

 

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