Apple is not content with creating an iPhone into which even it can’t hack. The Cupertino-based company is now working on encrypting iCloud backups in such a way only the account owner would have access.
can copy data from an iCloud backup and provide it to authorities when presented with a valid warrant.
Apple’s iOS devices automatically back up to its iCloud service whenever the device is connected to a Wi-Fi network and charging. Typically, the backup process occurs in the middle of the night without any user interaction.
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According to Apple’s law enforcement guidelines, the firm can extract “photos and videos in the users’ camera roll, device settings, app data, iMessage, SMS, and MMS messages and voicemail” from iCloud backups.
Citing anonymous sources, the Financial Times reports Apple is working on encrypting iCloud backups in such a way the company would lose access to the keys required to view data stored within a backup.
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Presumably, encrypted iCloud backups would be unlocked using a password known only to the account holder.
Exact timing of when Apple will add the increased security measures wasn’t mentioned in the report.
With the release of iOS 8 in 2014, Apple implemented a similar security feature for iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touch devices. In order to unlock encrypted data stored on an iOS device running iOS 8 or later, a user needs to enter a PIN code or use Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Without a PIN code, data contained within the device is unreadable by Apple.
Apple’s approach to locking itself out of the very devices it created has led to a legal battle between the tech giant and the FBI. The agency is unable to access data stored on an iPhone 5C used by one of the San Bernadino shooters, and Apple is refusing to write software to aid authorities in getting around the device’s security.
For more read Apple and the FBI Are Playing With Fire
Apple CEO Tim Cook has adamantly stated creating such software is dangerous and would put the privacy of millions at risk. Despite the original order—combined with the reassurance of the FBI—stating this request would only impact one iPhone, court records show the U.S. Justice Department has more than a dozen iPhones it cannot access without Apple’s assistance.
News of Apple’s push towards securing iCloud backups and eliminating the only means of gathering data from a user’s device will surely upset authorities, adding to the tension created by Apple’s refusal to assist the FBI.
Fortune has contacted Apple asking for a comment about the matter.