Advanced Data Protection for iCloud

With the release of iOS 16.2, Apple offers Advanced Data Protection for iCloud as an optional setting to adult US users. For those who enable the feature, iCloud will provide end-to-end encryption for Photos, Notes, iCloud Backup, and more. As a result, nobody else – not even Apple – can access your end-to-end encrypted data. Even if there is a data breach in the cloud, your end-to-end encrypted data will be unintelligible to a hacker. Your protected data can only be decrypted on your trusted devices. This is a huge upgrade to the security of your data in iCloud, but it is not enabled by default.

Since Apple does not possess the encryption keys needed to recover your end-to-end encrypted data, they cannot recover your data if you ever forget your password or lose access to your account. Instead, the app will guide you into setting up at least one alternative recovery method before turning on Advanced Data Protection. If you choose to turn off Advanced Data Protection later, your iCloud data will revert to the standard level of security.

Given such a major improvement to data security at no additional cost, we recommend that anyone eligible for Advanced Data Protection enable it on their personal devices as soon as possible. According to Apple, users outside of the US can expect Advanced Data Protection for iCloud in early 2023; however, any managed Apple IDs or child accounts are ineligible.

Before you can turn on Advanced Data Protection, you must have either an iPhone with iOS 16.2, iPad with iPad OS 16.2, or a Mac with macOS 13.1. If your device is not running these versions or higher, you will not find Advanced Data Protection in the Settings app. Even when your devices are up to date, it is buried in the Settings app, so here is how to locate Advanced Data Protection for iCloud:

On iPhone or iPad

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap your name, then tap iCloud.
  3. Scroll down, tap Advanced Data Protection, then tap Turn on Advanced Data Protection.
  4. Follow the onscreen instructions to review your recovery methods and enable Advanced Data Protection.

On Mac

  1. Choose Apple menu > System Settings.
  2. Click your name, then click iCloud.
  3. Click Advanced Data Protection, then click Turn On.
  4. Follow the onscreen instructions to review your recovery methods and enable Advanced Data Protection.

Further Reading

Advanced Data Protection for iCloud – Apple Support