Apple Shares Cybersecurity Breach Report Amid Push for Encryption

The tech giant wants more people to use its optional security feature.

David Lumb Mobile Reporter
David Lumb is a mobile reporter covering how on-the-go gadgets like phones, tablets and smartwatches change our lives. Over the last decade, he's reviewed phones for TechRadar as well as covered tech, gaming, and culture for Engadget, Popular Mechanics, NBC Asian America, Increment, Fast Company and others. As a true Californian, he lives for coffee, beaches and burritos.
Expertise smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, telecom industry, mobile semiconductors, mobile gaming
David Lumb
2 min read
A phone with a giant key on its display sits on top of an Apple laptop.
Angela Lang/CNET

A new cybersecurity report commissioned by Apple paints a dire picture of consumer data leaked through breach after breach. In this climate, the tech giant is nudging users to activate the Advanced Data Protection feature for iCloud it introduced a year ago, which end-to-end encrypts most data uploaded to and sent between Apple's apps and devices.

Cybersecurity breaches of company systems that expose consumer data are on the rise, says the report, which was written by MIT information technology professor Stuart Madnick -- 1.1 billion personal records were exposed in 2021, which has grown to 1.5 billion records exposed in 2022. Malefactors are increasingly using "vendor exploitation attacks" to infiltrate businesses through other businesses they've partnered with or the software systems provided by vendors. 

The Advanced Data Protection feature doesn't explicitly protect users from these breaches; rather, Apple is urging owners of its devices to use the feature to keep their personal devices from being vectors of attack and exposure. Turning it on is easy on iOS: open the Settings app, tap on your iCloud account, tap iCloud, then tap Advanced Data Protection and follow the instructions to set up account recovery options -- you'll need them once end-to-end encryption is activated for more data categories.

Watch this: Apple's New iCloud Encryption Changes Everything

iCloud already protects 14 sensitive data categories including health data and passwords in the iCloud keychain through end-to-end encryption. Advanced Data Protection is an optional feature that adds seven additional protected categories for a total of 23, including iCloud backups, Notes and Photos.

Apple declined to state how many users have activated Advanced Data Protection.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital privacy advocacy group, lauded the Advanced Data Protection feature for protecting consumer data -- especially for encrypting iCloud backups, which had been potentially exposing user information.