Apple confirmed that they will now employ Google Cloud and Amazon’s S3 service to power their very own Apple iCloud for storing encrypted data, replacing their previous usage of Microsoft Azure. The news has many iCloud users concerned with Google and Amazon having access to their photos, contacts, calendars and personal documents.
The concerns, however, are misplaced. Apple actually holds the keys to loads of metadata stored through them in iCloud accounts, no other third party from Google’s platform or Amazon S3 service can identify those files since they are encrypted and locked away by Apple, just as promised in the terms and agreements.
Apple stated in a document issued to inform about their new cloud platform provider, “Each file is broken into chunks and encrypted by iCloud using AES-128 and a key derived from each chunk’s contents that utilizes SHA-256,”. Rumors about Google acquiring iCloud started on 2016, but it wasn’t until this issued statement that Apple admitted anything about the subject.
Apple has finally confirmed, in a document, that it's using Google Cloud for iCloud https://t.co/koxPFlVVHW
— Jordan 'Jaws' Novet (@jordannovet) February 26, 2018
Where does Apple’s iCloud stand now?
Apple’s iCloud was introduced on April 2011, and it became available through an iTunes update after the acquisition of MobileMe, a Cloud service that transitioned to iCloud for free when it joined Apple. However, customers filled an action class lawsuit against Apple due to their discontent with the transition from MobileMe to iCloud’s first versions and minor updates in 2012.
After this brief consistency turmoil, Apple began proving offers like users 5GB of free iCloud storage; after that, it charges $0.99/month for 50GB, $2.99/month for 200GB, or $9.99/month for 2TB.
Apple signed their cloud agreement with Google back in 2016, and in fact, this information was officially shared with iPhone users in the iOS 11 security guide. This means that Apple will remain as Google’s client like many other big names like PayPal and Spotify until they can host their own cloud platform, which will be a feasible plan eventually.
For the hosting, Apple will begin storing cryptographic keys for Chinese users’ iCloud accounts in China instead of the US for the first time.
Codes for Chinese users of iCloud will be kept in a secure China location, Apple says https://t.co/8exEso3OZU
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) February 24, 2018
iCloud and general cloud concerns
Manny activists have manifested their fears of authorities requesting major companies to hand over information of people of interest to the government. These concerns are largely based on the Yahoo case in which the company handed over user data that led to arrests.
Regardless of Apple privacy and security guarantees, many experts suggest that nowadays it is of paramount importance to take security measures to avoid security breaches. The main suggestion is that of being restrictive and not sharing iCloud information with anyone, no exceptions, and the second main suggestion is to perform due diligence on your cloud account.