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November 24, 2014

What Does iOS 8’s Default Encryption Really Mean?

One of the more controversial aspects of the new iOS 8 is the fact that all your data on an iPhone running the OS – including photos, text messages, call history and contact details – is protected by strong encryption by default. This might not sound world-shattering, but it’s the first time Apple have made encryption the default option, and it’s a bigger step toward protecting your privacy than you might realise.

What this means is that unless your access PIN or password is compromised, nobody can get to your data - not even Apple. Although this move has generally been praised by information security professionals, it’s been criticised by some law enforcement bodies, particularly in the USA, as police say the evidence contained within a smartphone can sometimes make or break a criminal case.

However, privacy experts like Bruce Schneier, writing for CNN, say it’s impossible to make a “lawful backdoor” that only police and not hackers can access – even if such a thing were desirable. “Given everything that has made it easier for governments and others to intrude on our private lives, we need both technological security and legal restrictions to restore the traditional balance between government access and our security/privacy,” said Mr Schneier.D