Apple can decode and access anything stored in iCloud

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

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45 Comments

41. casbah70

Posts: 16; Member since: Jun 21, 2011

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

33. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 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.

36. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

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

37. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 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.

38. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

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

39. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 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.

44. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

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

45. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

I wasn't attacking at all

42. TROLL.ISAHA

Posts: 535; Member since: Mar 28, 2012

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

31. MorePhonesThanNeeded

Posts: 645; Member since: Oct 23, 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.

35. phoenixpr

Posts: 167; Member since: Mar 28, 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.

30. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 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.

32. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 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.

43. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 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.

28. jil77

Posts: 24; Member since: Feb 18, 2010

No crap! I hope everyone already knew this!

23. Mandroid

Posts: 209; Member since: Feb 22, 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.

19. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

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

20. phoenixpr

Posts: 167; Member since: Mar 28, 2012

So true!!!!

22. TROLL.ISAHA

Posts: 535; Member since: Mar 28, 2012

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

26. bayusuputra

Posts: 963; Member since: Feb 12, 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."

27. TROLL.ISAHA

Posts: 535; Member since: Mar 28, 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.......

29. TROLL.ISAHA

Posts: 535; Member since: Mar 28, 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......

16. christianqwerty

Posts: 467; Member since: May 05, 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.

6. andro.

Posts: 1999; Member since: Sep 16, 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

12. phoenixpr

Posts: 167; Member since: Mar 28, 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.

5. phoenixpr

Posts: 167; Member since: Mar 28, 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.

7. iShepherd

Posts: 38; Member since: Oct 17, 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.

9. phoenixpr

Posts: 167; Member since: Mar 28, 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!!!

11. gp284

Posts: 120; Member since: Feb 25, 2012

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

13. phoenixpr

Posts: 167; Member since: Mar 28, 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.

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