Good News: Your Saucy FaceTime Calls Really Are Encrypted… As Long As You Use The Right Connection


The iPad 2 was the first iPad to bring us front- and rear-facing cameras.
The iPad 2 was the first iPad to bring us front- and rear-facing cameras.

Okay, so not all of us use FaceTime for sleazy video calls, but either way, you’ll be glad to hear that your FaceTime calls really are encrypted — just like Apple promised back in July 2010 — as long as you use the right type of connection.

Shortly after the release of FaceTime last year, the Cupertino company responded to allegations that FaceTime video calls were not encrypted and ensured users that this was not the case. That didn’t stop one IT professional with a local County government from asking ZDNet for confirmation, however.

The user, who has not been named, wanted to know if Apple’s iPhone and iPad were HIPAA compliant, and therefore eligible for government funds. Any device that isn’t HIPAA compliant isn’t eligible for government grants in the healthcare industry, as strong encryption is seen as the only means of protecting systems from unauthorized access.

ZDNet contacted Apple, who issued the following response:

iPad supports WPA2 Enterprise to provide authenticated access to your enterprise wireless network. WPA2 Enterprise uses 128-bit AES encryption, giving users the highest level of assurance that their data will remain protected when they send and receive communications over a Wi-Fi network connection.

In addition to your existing infrastructure each FaceTime session is encrypted end to end with unique session keys. Apple creates a unique ID for each FaceTime user, ensuring FaceTime calls are routed and connected properly.

Basically, this means that as long as your iOS devices are hooked up to a connection using WPA2 Enterprise security, they are HIPAA compliant. WEP connections, however, aren’t so safe, according to ZDNet:

One thing’s for sure: WEP is out, and you should avoid mentioning that swiss cheese security protocol around your friends at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — if you want a check from the Feds, that is.

  • WillaNatch9876

    wooow unbelievable it I just got a 827.89 iPad2 for only 103.37 and my mom got a 1499.99 HTV for only 251.92, they are both coming tomorrow bu USPS. I would be an idiot to ever pay full retail prîces at places like Walmart or Bestbuy. I sold a 37″ HTV to my boss for 600 that I only paid  78.24 for. I use

  • Chris

    hey guy…you really buy too many electronics

  • Graham

    If the FaceTime call is encrypted “end to end” then the level of encryption of the WiFi is unimportant with regards the security of the FaceTime call.

    The WiFi security is important with regards the transfer of any data that isn’t otherwise encrypted.

  • Nic Wise

    Facetime over any network: encrypted. Secure. Even over the dodgyest of cafe wifi connections (ok, except possibly if someone finds a hole and does some kind of man in the middle attack to get the key…. unlikely)

    iPad in a hospital (HIPPA): all good as long as it’s on a WPA2 Enterprise network. (so docs can get federal funding for them – yay cheap iPads if you have a 250k student loan and a Phd)

    Seperate issues. Not related, except both involve encryption. You need to talk to the TUAW people. Both of you came to the same, mostly incorrect, conclusion.

  • facebook-1033324585

    Right, this article is wrong: Facetime calls are ALWAYS encrypted.

    Facetime calls are HIPAA compliants when used in wifi networks protected with WPA2/Enterprise encryption (both ends, of course).

  • dsjr2006

    FaceTime is always encrypted, other transmissions may not be thus the WPA2 Enterprise requirement.