Data stored in Apple's iCloud deemed 'safe' for most users

Posted:
in iCloud edited January 2014


Unless you're sharing or storing information of importance to national security, information saved on Apple's servers through iCloud should be secure enough for the average person's needs, a new analysis has found.



Chris Foresman at Ars Technica took a closer look at Apple's iCloud in an effort answer the question: "How safe is my data stored in iCloud?" He came away with the conclusion that Apple's service is at least as safe as using any other remote server, and maybe even more than most.



"All data is transferred to computers and mobile devices using secure sockets layer via WebDAV, IMAP, or HTTP," he wrote, explaining that all data except notes and e-mails is encrypted on Apple's remote servers.



Aside from someone obtaining an e-mail address and password associated with an iCloud account, he found the service is "safe" from hackers, and regular users can feel confident with sharing their data.



One potential security concern could be an Apple employee with direct access to files and data on the company's servers. But the company's own privacy policy plainly states that the company takes "administrative, technical, and physical" cautions to safeguard data.



Apple does not publicly disclose how it encrypts user data when it is stored on its remote servers, but sources who spoke with Foresman indicated the company is relying on Microsoft Azure for iCloud, aligning with a rumor that surfaced last September.











"Using a WebDAV client, we were able to access some of our iCloud data by guessing the server name and path; once authenticated, that data was human readable," he wrote. "Since we know that Apple decrypts this kind of data, the company is likely using some type of file-system encryption that is decrypted on the fly when requested from an authenticated device or computer."



E-mail is not encrypted through iCloud because no mainstream consumer IMAP providers encrypt messages on disk. Instead, messages are usually encrypted by the e-mail client and then decrypted by the receiver using a shared key.



As for notes, they are shared using IMAP to allow syncing with the Mail application in OS X 10.7 Lion. Foresman theorized that may change with the forthcoming release of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, which will have its own dedicated Notes application.



The iCloud umbrella of services launched last October, replacing Apple's previous cloud-based option, MobileMe. It includes former MobileMe services like Find My iPhone, Mail and Contacts, as well as Documents in the Cloud, iTunes in the Cloud and more.



[ View article on AppleInsider ]

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Comments

  • nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    I recently enabled iCloud for Numbers on my iPad, even though I don?t own Numbers on Mac or anyplace else, and it?s great as an automatic remote backup! Better than Time Machine. Every change I make is backed up to the cloud within seconds. I need that peace of mind if I?m going to switch my accounting to iPad. Which I am now doing



    Even if I never actually care about ?synching? that work, having such a complete and painless backup is terrific peace of mind. (I do, in addition, download the file from iCloud to my Mac as another local backup occasionally. And even without Numbers I can view the file on Mac, which is nice.)
  • tyler82tyler82 Posts: 572member
    The dynamic duo of iCloud and Time Machine not only gives me peace of mind when working with important documents, but also takes a huge burden off of the storage capacity of my new iPad. I have a feeling that in the near future, storage capacities of mobile devices will matter less and less, especially if you have a cellular enabled device
  • mrtotesmrtotes Posts: 759member
    Wake me up when NSA or CESG come up with an endorsement...
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tyler82 View Post


    I have a feeling that in the near future, storage capacities of mobile devices will matter less and less, especially if you have a cellular enabled device



    iCloud and other cloud-based services along with faster connection speeds do offer some relief from local storage but I don't think it's even close enough to make local storage matter less. I see storage capacities rising with time, not so much because the technology and cost permits it, but because we will want it. Even textbooks from iBookstore are averaging 1.5 GB which is too large for streaming to a device on an as needed basis.
  • bdkennedy1bdkennedy1 Posts: 1,459member
    Just remember when using the magical cloud servers that your documents become the property of that company.
  • prof. peabodyprof. peabody Posts: 2,860member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mrtotes View Post


    Wake me up when NSA or CESG come up with an endorsement...



    Read the article again. We are talking about personal consumer use, not corporate or government use.



    Also, pretty obviously, iCloud is never going to be acceptable to governments and most serious corporations who will have their own cloud.
  • broombroom Posts: 1member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    ...but sources who spoke with Foresman indicated the company is relying on Microsoft Azure for iCloud



    It also is believed that the N.C. data center is used for iCloud. Can someone explain how that would work thru Windows Azure?
  • realisticrealistic Posts: 1,111member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mrtotes View Post


    Wake me up when NSA or CESG come up with an endorsement...



    Wake me up when your personal data is relevant enough to affect national security and then we'll talk.
  • tyler82tyler82 Posts: 572member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


    iCloud and other cloud-based services along with faster connection speeds do offer some relief from local storage but I don't think it's even close enough to make local storage matter less. I see storage capacities rising with time, not so much because the technology and cost permits it, but because we will want it. Even textbooks from iBookstore are averaging 1.5 GB which is too large for streaming to a device on an as needed basis.



    It already has made local storage matter less. I can now store videos in the cloud. I could not do that a few weeks ago.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tyler82 View Post


    It already has made local storage matter less. I can now store videos in the cloud. I could not do that a few weeks ago.



    We've had cloud based storage for a long time and yet local disk sizes keep growing. iCloud won't change that.
  • tyler82tyler82 Posts: 572member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


    We've had cloud based storage for a long time and yet local disk sizes keep growing. iCloud won't change that.



    But are they growing proportionally with file sizes? If new iPad apps are 2x- 3x the size, yet the storage capacity remained the same, then local storage is actually shrinking.
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 40,864member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tyler82 View Post


    If new iPad apps are 2x- 3x the size, yet the storage capacity remained the same, then local storage is actually shrinking.



    Fortunately they're not, so that's not really an issue yet. I imagine next year we'll see 32/64/128.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tyler82 View Post


    But are they growing proportionally with file sizes? If new iPad apps are 2x- 3x the size, yet the storage capacity remained the same, then local storage is actually shrinking.



    1) Saying iPad apps have to increase 2-3x their size, from what I assume you've concluded because of the Retina Display is axiomatically incorrect. Check out Infinity Blade 2 before and after it was updated for the iPad 3.



    2) The size of NAND has not shrunk. That too is axiomatically incorrect. You could say that larger file sizes means you can store less on the same capacity NAND but that is not the same as saying local storage is actually shrinking.



    3) The size of apps has nothing to do with your original comment except to hurt it because iCloud storage is 5GB(?) and download times would be increased. Do you really want to load Infinity Blade from a server and pay for that storage every time you switch apps? I surely hope not.
  • tyler82tyler82 Posts: 572member
    I do think that within the next 5 years local storage will go the way of the dodo and everything will be run off of a cloud type service. I think that is Apple's plan and that is what they are trying to implement- and that they are working on a high bandwidth national wireless/wifi system to compete with (and, hopefully, overtake) decrepit and limiting cell phone service.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tyler82 View Post


    I do think that within the next 5 years local storage will go the way of the dodo and everything will be run off of a cloud type service. I think that is Apple's plan and that is what they are trying to implement- and that they are working on a high bandwidth national wireless/wifi system to compete with (and, hopefully, overtake) decrepit and limiting cell phone service.



    Nothing you wrote is reasonable.



    Bottom line: local storage will increase, not decrease in time.
  • tyler82tyler82 Posts: 572member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


    Everything you wrote is bullocks.



    Bottom line: local storage will increase, not decrease in time.



    Well I did predict the iPhone/ iPod touch years before they came out and everybody said I was crazy back then too.

    I stand by my statements, ostracize away!
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tyler82 View Post


    Well I did predict the iPhone/ iPod touch years before they came out and everybody said I was crazy back then too.

    I stand by my statements, ostracize away!



    What exactly did you predict that others weren't also predicting? Did you say it would make sense for Apple to use their expertise to create a cellphone? How does that jibe with your prediction that there will be no on-baord storage on Apple's devices in 5 years? Who really wants to load an OS UI from a server or run an app from a server? Do you not understand about network lag?



    You're talking about a device that will not even be able to get to the Home Screen without a strong internet connection. There is absolutely no market for this for a consumer platform. It's all negatives and no positives. Apple has integrated iCloud into apps so that they are consistent across devices with simple syncing while keeping the app and OS fast by making it local. This will not change even as iCloud services grow.
  • jlanddjlandd Posts: 862member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tyler82 View Post


    But are they growing proportionally with file sizes? If new iPad apps are 2x- 3x the size, yet the storage capacity remained the same, then local storage is actually shrinking.



    Cloud storage has matured wonderfully in the past year but it hasn't affected my local storage, which has shot up as full res image sizes have shot up, and non compressed audio hasn't gotten smaller but nonetheless does not call for throwing out all the old archives as I create new ones. Cloud storage has proven to be a fantastic holding place for small files and in progress large files, but it has zero lessening factor on my local storage, and I have 500 gigs of cloud storage. That's like 50 gigs a few years ago and 1 gig a decade ago. Storage for iPad files? Sure. Aperture libraries? Uh...



    I agree that it can play a part for Apple's current niche mobile market, but it's a long way from making a dent otherwise, especially if you don't throw out old files as you create new ones.
  • shaun, ukshaun, uk Posts: 1,050member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


    iCloud and other cloud-based services along with faster connection speeds do offer some relief from local storage but I don't think it's even close enough to make local storage matter less. I see storage capacities rising with time, not so much because the technology and cost permits it, but because we will want it. Even textbooks from iBookstore are averaging 1.5 GB which is too large for streaming to a device on an as needed basis.



    I've transferred all my documents from my local hard drive into Dropbox. It's so much better. I don't have to worry about making backups, moving files between devices, etc. If I change a document on my iMac I don't have to copy it across to my MBA, etc.



    The real issue here is when are they going to update iWork for OSX with iCloud integration embedded throughout.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Shaun, UK View Post


    I've transferred all my documents from my local hard drive into Dropbox. It's so much better. I don't have to worry about making backups, moving files between devices, etc. If I change a document on my iMac I don't have to copy it across to my MBA, etc.



    The real issue here is when are they going to update iWork for OSX with iCloud integration embedded throughout.



    1) Document storage on the cloud is convnient because these tend to be smaller files. But do you keep all your media and apps on the could? Do you want your device to be a dumb-terminal with your OS UI server side? There are clearly limits to the cloud and the bet solutuon is to integrate the cloud with local storage. Dropbox does this splededly.



    2) Dropbox makes this a grey solution because it only updates the chanea an you access old updates for at least 30 days. I recommend students using that do they don't lose any notes/papers.



    3) I'm expecting new iWork apps when Apple updates the MBPs. I'm expecting an event for this.
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