One of the biggest surprises of WWDC 2021 was the introduction of iCloud + by Apple, an improved version of its existing service available for free, which offers users secure email and VPN-style security.
iCloud has just become a useful business tool
Introducing these features will turn iCloud into a very useful remote business tool, though it will be interesting to see if all of these features become available to business people who use managed Apple IDs for their business tools. For now, suppose they do, given the profound value they promise to those in this industry.
These new tools mean employees using iCloud:
You will not see open email activity tracked by invisible pixels, as explained here with Privacy Protection email.
You will be able to subscribe to email lists using fake email addresses.
Get access to a built-in VPN with iCloud Private Relay.
You can create domain-based email addresses.
A game of cats and mice.
Apple will continue to invest in these protections. Apple’s Crag Federighi, vice president of software engineering, confirmed that Apple sees cybersecurity as an ongoing challenge, telling Fast:
“The incentives for“ innovation ”in the world of exploitation are great, so there is a lot of progress in the art of tracking; many advances in the art of security vulnerabilities. So in both areas, we think it will continue to be a game of cat and mouse. We believe that we bring many tools in this fight and, to a large extent, we can move forward and protect our customers. But it is something we recognize as a battle we will fight for years to come. «
In a sense, Apple’s decision to secure its platforms reflects the reality that it is becoming a more viable target as its place in the company grows.
«As a result of their growth in the company, Apple devices are now a greater target of security threats,» writes Garrett Denney, Jamf’s senior manager.
«This, combined with distance learning and schools’ access to cloud-sensitive resources, has increased Apple’s even greater security demand. And with improved security comes the need to balance data privacy protection and end-user experience in multiple contexts. New privacy-focused features, such as Hide My Email and Private Relay, bring user privacy to the forefront, allowing privacy to be protected no matter where the devices are used. «
The star of the show: iCloud Private Relay
Private Relay is a built-in internet privacy service that exists in iCloud. It is designed so that you can connect and browse the web using Safari in an extremely secure way, protecting both the identification of the sites you do and the places you visit.
It encrypts traffic (such as web destinations) leaving the device, making requests unreadable, even to Apple or your network provider.
It works like this:
When you make a request, it is encrypted and then sent through two separate internet relays;
The first relay operated by Apple gives you an anonymous IP address that maps to your region, but not your actual location.
The second relay, owned by a third party, decrypts the web address and redirects it to that destination.
The magic here is that by sharing information this way, no one can see who a user is and what sites they choose to visit. Apple can only see the IP address you request, while third parties can only see the website you requested.
The system raises the bar for personal safety by hiding who is browsing and where the data comes from; actually, it means you now have a free VPN on Safari.
In a WWDC presentation, Apple explained that Private Relay will also include DNS queries and some application traffic.
What will work with iCloud Private Relay?
Apple says iCloud Private Relay will work with:
Safari web browsing;
All DNS queries when users enter the site name;
All insecure HTTP traffic.
What won’t work with iCloud Private Relay?
Apple also said that iCloud Private Relay will not work with:
Local area network connections;
Private domain name requests;
Proxy Internet traffic;
Anyone pretending to be in another region.
Federighi says that classic VPN protection means you have to trust your provider.
«And this is a big responsibility for that middle man and it means that the user makes a very difficult decision to trust in terms of exposing all this information to a single entity.»
In other words, the Apple system may be better than a VPN, because while VPN providers know who you are and what you see, Apple doesn’t have that information. Such protection seems to be a necessary step, given the number of ugly and insecure VPN services that appear to exist.
In its simplest form, it is much more difficult to target an Apple user, which also makes it much more expensive. This should reduce the overall risk environment, but safety should never be taken for granted.
You will use Hide My Email
Based on Connecting with Apple, Hide My Email allows you to share unique, random email addresses that forward messages to your personal email inbox, instead of sharing your actual email address. This tool, which is built into Safari, iCloud Settings and Mail, is much better than the ad hoc aliasing system I’ve used so far and which is controlled in iCloud online. It also allows users to create and delete as many addresses as needed.
It simply means that you and your employees with Apple devices now have an unlimited amount of registered email addresses that you can use when security is important.
iCloud + also allows you to use a custom domain name. Apple positions this as a family-oriented service. This means that a family that owns a domain like SmithFamily should be able to create a string of email addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org that will work and be recognized by iCloud.
We don’t have many details about this yet, but it will be interesting to see if this is extended (or could be extended later) to Apple IDs managed for business use.
The Digital Legacy tool
Remember the old days when, if a senior employee died, it might have been impossible to get the strategy document they were working on from the device, even with the help of their grieving family?
This should no longer be a problem with Digital Legacy. This allows users to designate family or friends as people who are allowed to access digital data, such as photos and other personal data that remains in a person’s iCloud account after their death.
To set up the role, a person must specify who can access the account in the event of death. These old contacts will be able to access that account, although they will have to go through a verification process of some kind, the details of which are currently unclear.
We think there will be more to learn about iCloud +. After all, the notion of «plus» service means that there will still be a basic service and I can’t help but wonder if this could keep the free 5 GB service, but slightly improved.
There are also some useful changes to the recovery feature, which will now allow you to assign friends or family you can trust to receive security codes on your behalf if you lose your device.
The price remains the same: 50 GB of storage with a HomeKit secure video camera (99 cents per month), 200 GB with up to five HomeKit secure video cameras ($ 2.99 per month) and 2 TB with an unlimited number of video cameras sure. 9.99 per month).
The maximum number of cameras used was five, and the storage of those cameras no longer matters for the iCloud limit. Existing iCloud users (probably those on paid levels) will upgrade to iCloud + this fall when iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and macOS Monterey are delivered.