Apple fortifies iMessage to foil hackers of the future


Apple Security Encryption
iMessage is about to achieve a higher level of security than any of its widely used rivals.
Image: Apple

An iMessage upgrade with post-quantum cryptography will make Apple’s instant messaging platform ready to fend off future hackers. Today’s encryption methods likely won’t be able to stand up, which is why Apple is bringing in the cutting-edge protocol.

The new tech will launch in March, making iMessage the most secure, widely used messaging service in the world, according to Apple.

Apple warns of dire threats to unencrypted cloud data


Apple security lock logo
Apple offers end-to-end encryption in Advanced Data Protection for iCloud.
Photo: Apple

Data breaches have compromised 2.6 billion personal consumer records in the past two years, with a rapid rise since last year, according to an independent study Apple published Thursday.

Increasing threats to consumer data stored in the cloud underscore a need for end-to-end data encryption like Advanced Data Protection for iCloud, launched in 2022, Apple said.

“Bad actors continue to pour enormous amounts of time and resources into finding more creative and effective ways to steal consumer data, and we won’t rest in our efforts to stop them,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “As threats to consumer data grow, we’ll keep finding ways to fight back on behalf of our users by adding even more powerful protections.”

Apple won’t be forced to pull iMessage and FaceTime out of the UK


iMessage and FaceTime
U.K. residents, looks like you get to keep using iMessage and FaceTime.
Image: Apple/Cult of Mac

The U.K. government dropped a plan that would have allowed it to access the contents of any online message looking for illegal content. It had sought a way around the encryption that protects messaging services like iMessage and WhatsApp.

Apple threatened to disable iMessage and FaceTime in the UK rather than submit to the proposal on the grounds that it would completely compromise the privacy of all users. Other companies said the same about their apps.

Kingston’s securely encrypted SSD unlocks with built-in touchscreen [Review] ★★★★


Kingston IronKey Vault Privacy 80 review★★★★
Unlock the 256-bit encryption on the Kingston IronKey Vault Privacy 80 by tapping in a passcode on the convenient touchscreen.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The Kingston IronKey Vault Privacy 80 External SSD includes a touchscreen and hardware encryption to protect user data. Unlock it by tapping in a password or numeric passcode onto the touchscreen.

It’s available in capacities ranging from 480GB to nearly 2TB. And it’s accessible from just about any device with a USB port — no special software needed.

I went hands-on with the secure SSD. Here’s why I like it.

Level up your online security with new pCloud Pass password manager


Isn't it about time you took online passwords seriously?
Isn't it about time you took online passwords seriously?
Photo: pCloud

Nobody likes dealing with online passwords, but a future without them has yet to arrive. So, instead of limping along with weak passwords you use over and over again for different websites — a huge security risk — you should get a password manager with top-notch security like pCloud Pass.

This post is brought to you by pCloud.
Already known for secure cloud storage, pCloud recently rolled out pCloud Pass. The password manager gives you instant access to encrypted passwords across all your devices. And you can use a free version or choose from affordable plans with extra features.

How to make iCloud more secure with Advanced Data Protection


You now have the option to have more of your iCloud files encrypted, including images. Here's how.
The latest versions of Apple's operating systems give you the option to encrypt more of your iCloud files, including images.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Apple recently added end-to-end encryption for more types of iCloud data. Now, you can turn on Advanced Data Protection to encrypt iCloud Photos, Notes and more. Activating this new security feature is easy … once you find the switch buried in Settings.

We can save you some time. Here’s how and why you should activate it.

Unlock Kingston’s newest SSD with its built-in touchscreen


Unlock Kingston's SSD with its built-in touchscreen
Tap in a password directly onto the touchscreen of Kingston's IronKey external SSD.
Photo: Kingston

The Kingston IronKey Vault Privacy 80 External SSD includes a touchscreen and hardware encryption to protect user data. Unlock the XTS-AES 256-bit encryption by tapping in a password or numeric passcode onto the touchscreen.

It’s available in capacities up to 1920 GB.

Back up and protect cherished family photos and data with pCloud


pCloud's Easter promotion gives you a great deal on a family plan.
pCloud's Easter promotion gives you a great deal on a family plan with strong security.
Photo: pCloud

This cloud storage post is brought to you by pCloud.

There’s nothing like breaking out family photo albums and reliving memories with the clan. Or looking back at treasured mementos like holiday cards, diplomas and wedding invitations. And this is true even if it’s all digital rather than physical.

But just as a family can lose photos and papers to fires and floods, it can lose digital items, too. And that’s why it’s crucial to have a backup, like secure cloud data storage from pCloud. The company’s Family Plan, which lets everyone share in the fun, is deeply discounted for a short time. Plus, it comes with extra security in a special Easter promotion campaign.

Try pCloud as a top alternative to Dropbox


If you're looking for cloud storage, consider pCloud as an alternative to Dropbox and other services.
If you're looking for cloud storage, consider pCloud as an alternative to Dropbox and other services.
Photo: pCloud

This cloud storage post is brought to you by pCloud.

The well-regarded pCloud service prides itself on providing highly secure encrypted cloud storage, where you can safely keep your personal files, back up your PC or share your business documents with your colleagues and collaborators. As such, it’s a great alternative to Dropbox, with plenty of benefits above and beyond everyday cloud storage offerings.

UK plans dramatic ‘publicity attack’ against encryption


UK steps up fight against encryption
It will use children for dramatic anti-encryption stunts.
Photo: Markus Spiske/Unsplash

The U.K. will spend taxpayer money on a dramatic “publicity attack” against end-to-end encryption, according to a new report. The country apparently hopes to sway public opinion before taking further steps to crack down on the security feature.

A major focus of the campaign will be child safety. M&C Saatchi, the agency hired to run the marketing blitz, reportedly will use child actors to carry out emotive stunts that suggest encryption is being used by predators to conceal their activities.

iOS 14.5 makes zero-click iPhone attacks even more difficult


If hackers dump your personal data onto the dark web, you need to know about it. Dashlane Dark Web Monitoring can sound the alarm.
“Dammit, Apple keeps breaking all my best zero-click attacks.”
Photo: sebastiaan stam/Pexels CC

The next iOS version will make it more difficult for hackers to break into iPhones. Security researchers digging around in Apple’s beta code for iOS 14.5 found that the company began encrypting pointer authentication codes, which will make zero-click attacks far tougher to pull off.

Proposed Republican bill would crack down on unbreakable encryption


Privacy Screen makes Google Drive just a bit more secure.
Apple is a big believer in privacy.
Photo: Google/Cult of Mac

Republican senatators have proposed a new bill that would end the use of unbreakable encryption by tech companies on the basis that it helps “terrorists and other bad actors to conceal illicit behavior.”

The so-called Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act is proposed by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), and Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee).

Zoom does an about-face on end-to-end encryption


Zoom will offer top-tier encryption to all users.
Photo: Allie Smith/Unsplash

Zoom promised on Wednesday to make end-to-end encryption an option for all users, not just paying ones.

This video conferencing app became incredibly popular during the COVID-19 epidemic. But it also drew criticism for weak security.

Zoom worked quickly to fix that, but again faced complaints when the company decided that end-to-end encryption would only be for paying customers. That’s a decision it changed today.

Zoom buys startup to bring end-to-end encryption to video calls


Zoom promises to work harder to protect user privacy.
Zoom calls are already encrypted, and the company committed today to step up to end-to-end encryption.
Photo: Zoom

Zoom on Thursday acquired Keybase for its experience with encryption and security.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought millions of new users to Zoom, but also criticism for weak security. Its stated goal in purchasing the smaller company, which developed its own messaging and file-sharing service, is to bring end-to-end encryption to Zoom meetings.

Zoom 5.0 aims to stamp out Zoombombing


Zoom 5.0 brings much-needed security enhancements hoping to end Zoombombing.
When you’re having a Zoom meeting and Satan drops in unexpectedly? That’s Zoombombing.
Photo: Zoom/Cult of Mac

Zoom on Wednesday committed to upgrading the encryption in its video-chatting app. And Zoom 5.0, which will be out within the week, will include additional security controls for meeting hosts, like the ability to report disruptive users.

Use of this platform rose enormously since people around the world went into self quarantine. And criticism of Zoom’s security and privacy controls also increased dramatically as Zoombombing became a thing.

MI5 boss thinks tech companies should provide ‘exceptional access’ to encrypted messages


UAE iPhone hacks
Spymaster thinks intelligence agency should be able to read encrypted messages when it needs to.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The UK’s director general of intelligence agency MI5 thinks that tech companies should provide it with “exceptional access” to encrypted messages when required.

Sir Andrew Parker made his remarks for an ITV documentary broadcast on Thursday about the domestic intelligence agency. He said that it is “increasingly mystifying” why intelligence agencies are not able to easily read the secret messages being sent and received by terror suspects they are monitoring.

Signal is the European Commission’s encrypted messaging app of choice


Signal app
Signal is all about privacy.
Photo: Signal

The European Commission doesn’t want its staff using WhatsApp or iMessage for internal communications. Instead, they must start using end-to-end-encrypted messaging app Signal as part of a push toward greater security.

“Signal has been selected as the recommended application for public instant messaging,” noted an instruction that reportedly appeared on internal EC messaging boards in early February.

Congress might give law enforcement a ‘backdoor’ into encrypted messages


Know how to hard-lock your iPhone in a hurry.
Congress might use child abuse as an excuse to weaken the encryption in Apple Messages and similar apps.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

No one could protest legislation aimed at curbing child sex abuse, but a bill that reportedly will be introduced soon in the US Congress could have much wider consequences. One result might be a legally mandated requirement that messaging services have a “backdoor” so that law enforcement can read all encrypted messages.

FBI director says Feds still can’t unlock iPhone in Pensacola shooting case


FBI director says Feds still can't unlock iPhone in Pensacola shooting case
FBI wants Apple to help it unlock handset.
Photo: Dave Newman/Flickr CC

FBI director Christopher Wray says that the Feds are still unable to access the encrypted data on an iPhone belonging to the shooter responsible for killing three Americans at a Pensacola, Florida naval base in late 2019.

The FBI says that it has reconstructed the phone after it was damaged. But it still can’t access the information on the handset itself.

Trump: Apple encryption could protect ‘criminal minds’


President Trump: Apple encryption could protect ‘criminal minds’
Donald Trump thinks Apple needs to help authorities by unlocking iPhones.
Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr CC

President Donald Trump is no fan of Apple’s refusal to unlock iPhones for authorities in encryption-stymied criminal cases. In an interview with CNBC, Trump said, “Apple has to help us. And I’m very strong on it. They have the keys to so many criminals and criminal minds, and we can do things.”

Trump is currently in Davos, Switzerland, attending the World Economic Forum. This morning, he met with Tim Cook for a working breakfast.

Apple ditched plans for secure iCloud backups after FBI concern


Apple ditched plans for secure iCloud backups after FBI concern
Apple planned new feature two years ago.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple ditched plans to let users fully encrypt backups of their devices using iCloud, a new report by Reuters claims. Apple reportedly made the decision after the FBI complained that this would make it harder to carry out future investigations.

The report mentions no names. But the news outlet reportedly spoke with “six sources familiar with the matter.”

Steve Bannon says Trump could ‘drop the hammer’ on Apple


Steve Bannon says President Donald Trump could
Steve Bannon was formerly an advisor to President Trump.
Photo: CNBC

Steve Bannon, the ex-Breitbart chairman and former chief strategist for Donald Trump, warns that the president will “drop the hammer” on Apple if it doesn’t work with authorities.

Bannon is referring to the current standoff regarding whether Apple should unlock iPhones used by the shooter who killed three people at the Pensacola Naval Air Station in December.