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Apple can decode and access anything stored in iCloud

Posted: , by Scott H.

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Apple can decode and access anything stored in iCloud
Users of Apple’s iCloud service are protected by industry-leading protection – 128 bit encryption, data transmission via SSL, the whole nine yards. In short, it’s very unlikely that any outside party could ever access your iCloud data without your permission.

Unless they asked Apple.

A recent security analysis conducted on behalf of Ars Technica has demonstrated that Apple keeps a key that lets them decode anything stored in iCloud at any time. Moreover, the Terms and Conditions you sign when you elect to use iCloud show that Apple expressly keeps the right to do so at any time they see fit. Apple retains the right to “pre-screen, move, refuse, modify and/or remove” any content they deem objectionable, and “access, use, preserve and/or disclose” any of that content to law enforcement officials.

Of course any company must comply with a court order if they are sent one, but Apple’s T&C don’t specify a court order as a requirement – they simply have the right to screen your iCloud data, remove it if they like, or pass it along to the FBI if they feel it’s in their best interest.

Should you be worried? The trite answer is “only if you are doing something wrong”, but it really comes down to how much you trust Apple with your data when you know they can access it at any time. It’s not the only way Apple could have elected to design iCloud – a fully encrypted system would not have let Apple spy on the data either, much the way Microsoft can’t see what’s on a fully encrypted version of Windows 7 without your password. Of course BlackBerry's have a system like that, and it's gotten them into very public trouble in some countries.

But Apple likes control, and prefers to trust its own judgment as to when action should be taken, and their T&C allow that. It lets them avoid a public altercation like RIM ran into, since Apple doesn't have to alert anyone to share data with local authorities. It also protects them against claims that iCloud is being used for rampant pirating, since they can check for (and remove) material that violates copyright.

It’s easy to get all worked up over privacy issues, and we don’t want to cause undue alarm. Instead, you need to be an informed consumer; if you work in a field where you keep trade secrets, then iCloud probably isn’t for you. If you are uneasy with allowing Apple access to your encrypted data, you may want to select a different cloud storage solution. For most users it probably won’t be a big deal.

What do you think about Apple’s back-door access to iCloud data? Let us know in the comments below.

source: Ars Technica via AppleInsider

45 Comments
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posted on 04 Apr 2012, 17:04 6

1. Lucas777 (Posts: 2137; Member since: 06 Jan 2011)


ugh... more privacy concerns... idk i mean its just like using google or anything internet related-- u have to deal with it and use the product or just dont put stuff in a cloud/internet... i wish there was a way to keep better privacy but it seems impossible...

im not saying they should be able to do this... they probably shouldn't, but it seems to be just another fact of using the internet.. i guess if u dont like it dont use it.. just like most apple products..

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 17:08 4

2. TROLL.ISAHA (banned) (Posts: 535; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)


What good news!
Apple want's, need's you'r info......

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 17:15 3

3. cripton805 (Posts: 921; Member since: 18 Mar 2012)


I work with legal documents and this is not exclusive to Apple... Why is this on here? If the court decides to subpoena your phone records, that can be done too. This is nothing new.

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 17:42 7

4. iShepherd (Posts: 38; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


READ the article! That's the entire point, Apple doesn't need a court order to start surfing through your stuff. Do you seriously work with legal docs?

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 18:13 4

14. phoenixpr (Posts: 167; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)


Amen! I mean really! I don't believe he read the entire article. It's really not that difficult...

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 18:33 1

17. cripton805 (Posts: 921; Member since: 18 Mar 2012)


Neither do most companies. It's choice of wording. Can the companies do it. Probably. Will they, we don't know.

Can you kill someone? Yes. Will you do it? Maybe, maybe not.

posted on 05 Apr 2012, 00:49 3

34. cripton805 (Posts: 921; Member since: 18 Mar 2012)


Theres a lot of issues with privacy nowadays. If you choose to obtain records for X reason, you can likely do it. I wouldnt doubt if Apple has this available to avoid legal trouble. I wouldnt doubt most companies have access to their customes cloud accounts.

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 17:42 6

5. phoenixpr (Posts: 167; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)


This is a BIG reason as a Mac Fanboy, never purchase an iCrap iPhone. I own an HTC Evo and LOVE the fact that my phone is equipped with an expansion slot. However the new HTC One X, I said it before and YES! I will POST AGAIN! I HATE THE FACT THAT THE NEW GENERATION OF ANDROID PHONE ARE JUST LIKE THE iCrap iPhone. With no expansion slot, forcing consumer to the cloud, whether you like it or not. In other words to consumer from this new trend of smartphone, a big "TOO BAD"!!! The cell phone manufacturers are very aware of the dumbass 99% fool will eat the crap they put out. This isn't just Apple doing this, Google and every other cloud service provider is guilty of this. Consumer should have an option to have an expansion slot on the high end phone, not just the low end.

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 17:53 4

7. iShepherd (Posts: 38; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


I agree, the one thing I don't like Google doing is pushing hard for Android phones to rely on cloud services when my wireless plan is capped, and now my broadband is capped too.

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 18:00 2

9. phoenixpr (Posts: 167; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)


However: what is corrupting the landscape of the new phone being manufacturer, are all those butt head fools with this "I Don't Care" attitude of having the expansion slot. They are Sooo comfortable with 8GB, !6Gb or even 32GB of fixed storage. AS well as not having a removable battery option. What is so wrong with wanting options. To the person that gave iShepherd a thumbs down, Suck egg! We're right!!!

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 18:04

11. gp284 (Posts: 120; Member since: 25 Feb 2012)


but what does your original comment have to do with this article?

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 18:12 3

13. phoenixpr (Posts: 167; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)


If I have to explain to you (@gp284), then it's not worth it. Everyone else understood what I posted and how it relates to this article. I'm truly sorry you were unable to comprehend my original post. Maybe if you try reading it serval time you might understand.

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 18:33 1

18. gp284 (Posts: 120; Member since: 25 Feb 2012)


All I see is you hating on new feature phones not having an SD card slot. There was a post about that a while ago which is where you should have posted it. This post has to do with the iCloud and while both your post and the article have to do with content storage this still would have been better suited for the other article. If you had wanted it to be more applicable you should have just said screw the iCloud I prefer using SD cards rather than having to trust my content to some other company, rather than just saying how you like SD card slot expansion and you don't like how new feature phones are ditching the slot and not one word about the iCloud.

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 19:22 4

21. phoenixpr (Posts: 167; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)


Hence I love to see an expansion slot on all Anroid device and hate iCloud...

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 20:13 3

25. TROLL.ISAHA (banned) (Posts: 535; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)


SO DO I. AND OTHER CLOUDS!

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 20:12 3

24. TROLL.ISAHA (banned) (Posts: 535; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)


Dam right!

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 17:55 8

8. andro. (Posts: 1953; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)


Agreed i always buy a phone with a memory card slot,32gb cards can be got for 30 euros for example. There are a few new android phones with sd card slots but there are plenty of alternatives also. You can bet the gs3 will have a card slot.

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 18:04 6

10. phoenixpr (Posts: 167; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)


@andro I hope your right! The ways things are looking is not so good. They are already making so many device with no option at all. No expansion slots, no removable battery. The really want to make sure that consumer recycle their phone every two years.

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 18:22 3

15. andro. (Posts: 1953; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)


A non removeable battery is less of a concern as android phones starting to shift with 1800+ mah batteries,a two year cycle is fine as most peoples upgrades come round every 18 or 24 months plus all phones except apples come with 2 year warranties

posted on 05 Apr 2012, 05:05 1

40. PhoneArenaUser (Posts: 5478; Member since: 05 Aug 2011)


Agree! And there is proof, you can watch or download video from here:
http://goo.gl/Ojfmx

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 17:52 2

6. andro. (Posts: 1953; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)


Hmmmmm.........Apple spying on its users,where are we heard this before! The icloud was always another way apple do market 'research' and itunes agreements are always worded so the user 'agrees' to it all these apple motives by accepting itunes.

.a recent PA survey showed most users perferred micro sd cards slots for security reasons so ifans are damned here due to apples demand of internal memory only so that they can charge high for extra capacity

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 18:08 2

12. phoenixpr (Posts: 167; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)


Well don't sing to loud just yet @andro, these new breed of Android are becoming more and more exactly like the iPhone. With no expansion slots or removable battery. This my point, So this year we Android user will be damed as well.

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 18:30 2

16. christianqwerty (Posts: 460; Member since: 05 May 2011)


I doubt apple would ever want to look at my jr.high pictures and collection of amy winehouse music. who cares, unless you have a national secret hidden in the icloud, i dont see it being that big of a deal.

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 18:53 2

19. taco50 (banned) (Posts: 5506; Member since: 08 Oct 2009)


It's funny fandroids bashing Apple over privacy concerns while Goolge harvest all their data to advertisers.

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 19:19 1

20. phoenixpr (Posts: 167; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)


So true!!!!

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 19:42 1

22. TROLL.ISAHA (banned) (Posts: 535; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)


I have, or have you ever seen or herd
Apple sponsering on any-thing? Nope,
There to acquisitive!

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 20:15 1

26. bayusuputra (Posts: 941; Member since: 12 Feb 2012)


no, the bashing is because you Apple lovers think that Apple wont be doing what Google has done..
It all started with you Apple lovers..
This is just how the android lovers say, "You see, they do the same thing."

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 20:35 1

27. TROLL.ISAHA (banned) (Posts: 535; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)


It's not funny! It's the truth....
Wake up from ur wooly land....
Open ur obscurity eye's....
The fruit is the master in disguise!!!
Robot vs fruit.....
This is contention.......

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 22:52 2

29. TROLL.ISAHA (banned) (Posts: 535; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)


People who bye iphone no nothing about the
phone
people who bye beats headphone no nothing about
Headphones
people who bye porsche no nothing about cars
What they no is that model they buy is the most
overpriced item and popular at the moment.....
The real competion is marketing strategy......
Iphone5 just could upgrade lte and screen over
the ip4s and the its the new big thing!!!!!!!!

Poor fans stupid dum idiots......

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 19:42 1

23. Mandroid (Posts: 209; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)


Cool cool. I'll add that to the list of 600 other reasons not to buy apples novelties. What horse crap, when I buy something I sure as hell don't want anyone to tell me what I can and cannot put on there.

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 22:23 2

28. jil77 (Posts: 24; Member since: 18 Feb 2010)


No crap! I hope everyone already knew this!

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 23:24 1

30. remixfa (Posts: 13906; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


umm.. easy answer... no way in hell. Apple is one of the most vile and underhanded companies in this business. No way in hell will i allow them full access to anything I store. I dont need a reason to want real privacy. If i want to share it, its my right.

posted on 05 Apr 2012, 00:30 1

32. taco50 (banned) (Posts: 5506; Member since: 08 Oct 2009)


You give all info to google and they data mine your info. The irony lol!

Did you not read about Google's new privacy agreement or how they're bypassing privacy in browsers? You really should try living in reality. It's not that bad.

Oh Samsung uses Foxconn factories. It's your move.

posted on 05 Apr 2012, 10:44 1

43. remixfa (Posts: 13906; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


dude, i dont play chess against a brainless opponent.

the "bypassing" you were talking about was nothing more than a way to add +1 on safari. nothing malicious. It was an exploit that apple had known about for over a year and didnt care enough to fix. Its not like they are going around saying "store your stuff with us, btw we retain the rights to decode anything you put on our servers for our own use".. thats something only Apple does.

Samsung does not use foxconn for their premier products and smartphones like the galaxy series. Those are all made at samsung plants in indonesia where the workers get paid slightly better, have paid vacations, benefits, workers rights, and sick time.

check mate.

next time, ill let you move 4 times before i move once.

posted on 04 Apr 2012, 23:50 1

31. MorePhonesThanNeeded (Posts: 618; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)


What I find worrying is the incredible amount of people who don't actually read the ToC on any device, especially anything from Apple. Listen that company may seem like it's out to help you, but in reality it's only in it for your money and to keep you buying. So protecting it's bottom line and their arse is priority, so if that means making you agree to not be able to have any sort of privacy of data stored in your online account then so be it.

The fact is when is private going be a redundant word, in this digital age pretty much nothing is private anymore. We make digital purchases but in reality we are just renting as you do not own anything physical just a bunch of zero's and one's. I don't expect to use cloud storage for anything for as long as I can. It's just not worth the invasion of my so called privacy, simple fact what I have stored on my phone is my business and no one else. This is about to go the way of banking, open trade on your music tastes and book selection and you get no pay for your info, but the bank makes all the money. Capitalism at it's finest. Google, Apple and everyone else with their cloud storage can go fornicate themselves with that cloud crap. I like to not have to worry if what I put on my storage is being sifted through by people whom I do not know nor want looking in there.

posted on 05 Apr 2012, 00:58 2

35. phoenixpr (Posts: 167; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)


Well put! Want make me mad are those idiots that reply with "Our stuff is not national security" why should we care. A bunch of dumass statement. My picture or whatever it may be, is my stuff. I don't trust these cloud service!!! That is why I was happy to see the new HTC One X is equipped with an expansion slot. This will allow me to continue without a cloud service, for as long as I get avoid that crap cloud.

posted on 05 Apr 2012, 00:47 2

33. Whateverman (Posts: 3201; Member since: 17 May 2009)


This is not good. iCloud was a great idea, but this just kills it if the general public finds out about it. No big deal if you're just storing music and movies, but if your storing sensitive documents, this could be a big problem. I wouldn't trust it.

posted on 05 Apr 2012, 00:59 1

36. taco50 (banned) (Posts: 5506; Member since: 08 Oct 2009)


And you trust Google with your data? That makes no sense.

posted on 05 Apr 2012, 01:07 2

37. Whateverman (Posts: 3201; Member since: 17 May 2009)


Nope. I opted out before the new privacy settings took effect and I don't sign into Chrome at all. I do share anything. The ads I don't mind much.

posted on 05 Apr 2012, 01:16 1

38. taco50 (banned) (Posts: 5506; Member since: 08 Oct 2009)


The new privacy settings don't have an opt out I know of other an not using Google products.

posted on 05 Apr 2012, 01:54 1

39. Whateverman (Posts: 3201; Member since: 17 May 2009)


Yep, PA posted a little how to article. Technically, its just turning off the browser history which only prevent Google from keeping my data forever. But on my phone, I don't sign into the Google browser. When you first sign into you gmail to activate the phone it automatically logs you into the Google browser, but you can just log out. I never use my home address or put in anyone else's exact address. Who knows how that info would be used if its lost. Just because we love Google or Apples products, doesn't mean we should drop our guards.

posted on 05 Apr 2012, 10:47 1

44. remixfa (Posts: 13906; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


because you dont know anything taco, you just blind attack like a rabbit cataract filled chihuahua with no teeth.

posted on 05 Apr 2012, 10:56 1

45. taco50 (banned) (Posts: 5506; Member since: 08 Oct 2009)


I wasn't attacking at all

posted on 05 Apr 2012, 08:00 1

42. TROLL.ISAHA (banned) (Posts: 535; Member since: 28 Mar 2012)


Taco love's the icloud.....
He dislike's SD card...
Cause Apple said so!

posted on 05 Apr 2012, 06:26 2

41. casbah70 (Posts: 16; Member since: 21 Jun 2011)


I know some HIPAA security officers who would have a serious issue with this.

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