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Apple issues grave warning on user privacy to promote its own data protection

Apple introduced Advanced Data Protection in 2022

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A year after claiming user privacy breaches were at an historic high, Apple's new report says they're now risen 20% more in the US alone.

In December 2022, Apple unveiled new security safeguards for users of iCloud and Messages, with each including what it called Advanced Data Protection. Alongside a trio of specific security features, Apple also released a report into data breaches.

While Apple has no new security features, this year it has however issued a new report on how threats have increased.

"Bad actors continue to pour enormous amounts of time and resources into finding more creative and effective ways to steal consumer data, and we won't rest in our efforts to stop them," Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering said in a statement. "As threats to consumer data grow, we'll keep finding ways to fight back on behalf of our users by adding even more powerful protections."

"Last year's study, 'The Rising Threat to Consumer Data in the Cloud,' found that these threats had reached historically high levels," says report author Professor Stuart E. Madnick, in a foreword to the new edition. "And now, with complete data from 2022 and most of 2023 underway, many indicators show that the threat is getting even worse."

"For US organizations, data breaches are now at an all-time high," Madnick continues. "In just the first nine months of 2023, data breaches in the US have already increased by nearly 20% compared to all of 2022 — and organizations around the world have faced similar trends."

The new report says that in the first three quarters of 2023

  1. Ransomware attacks rose 70% compared to 2022
  2. 98% of firms have a relationship with a vendor who has had a data breach
  3. Over 360 million people were victims of data breaches
  4. 1 in 4 people had their health data exposed

The report was commissioned by Apple, but it is entirely an aggregate of multiple other reports and commentaries. Consequently, the report ends with five pages of citations, and its methodology is also unclear as it appears to be that the report was collated as information was announced.

Statistics about data breaches in 2023. (Source: Apple)
Statistics about data breaches in 2023. (Source: Apple)

Professor Madnick, though, does provide recommendations in a conclusion, and this is the only point where he promotes Apple.

"[Organizations] must rethink the amount of data they collect and, especially, limit the amount of unencrypted consumer data they retain," he wrote. "It's also why, in the last year, technology platforms and other industry players have expanded their use of end-to-end encryption, a method of securing data or communications that ensures only the sender and receiver can access and modify that datApple Walleta."

"For example, Apple introduced Advanced Data Protection worldwide in January 2023," continues Professor Madnick, "which included end-to-end encryption as well as other security measures for the majority of users' iCloud data, including iCloud Backup and Photos."

Apple's Advanced Data Protection basically brought end-to-end encryption to more of its services. Where previously it protected seven categories, such as health data, in December 2022 it added nine more, including Apple Wallet.