iOS 16.3 supports encrypted iCloud backups for all iPhone users

Apple unveiled a new Advanced Data Protection security feature in December that adds end-to-end encryption to iCloud backups. But Advanced Data Protection wasn’t available worldwide, so international iPhone and iPad users had to wait. The good news is that the wait is almost over. iOS 16.3 enables support for end-to-end encrypted iCloud backups worldwide, so international users can take advantage of the new security feature as soon as they update their devices.

Fully encrypted iCloud backups are a privacy advocate Have wanted for years. The end-to-end encryption protection ensures that Apple cannot access backup data, even if required by law enforcement. Likewise, the data is safe in case hackers break into Apple’s servers.

iCloud backups already get encryption protection in transit and during storage. Therefore, it is safe to backup your iPhone to iCloud even before iOS 16.3 arrives. However, Apple can still access the data in backups when it receives legitimate requests from law enforcement.

The Advanced Data Protection feature in iOS 16.3 makes that impossible and adds that extra layer of privacy and security. The encryption keys are moved from Apple’s servers to the iPhone or iPad when end-to-end encryption is enabled.

The Advanced Data Protection feature covers data from various iPhone apps that you may be backing up using iCloud. Data in Messages, iCloud Drive, Notes, Photos, Reminders, Safari Bookmarks, Siri Shortcuts, Voice Memos, and Wallet Passes is protected with end-to-end encryption.

You need to enable advanced data protection manually after you upgrade iPhone to iOS 16.3 or iPad to iPadOS 16.3. You should also set up Account Recovery, a feature that will allow you to access your data in case you forget your passwords.

There is one more caveat. Not all devices support end-to-end encrypted iCloud backups. You must remove it from your Apple ID before enabling Advanced Data Protection.

Advanced data protection provides end-to-end encryption for iPhone iCloud backups.
Advanced data protection provides end-to-end encryption for iPhone iCloud backups. Image source: Apple Inc. through WSJ

We’ve already explained how to add end-to-end encryption to your iCloud backups, so check out this link if you need more information.

As for the iOS 16.3 rollout, it should be very close. Apple just released the final beta ahead of the public release. That means it’s only a matter of days before Apple rolls out iOS 16.3 and iPadOS 16.3 worldwide. Once that happens, iPhone and iPad users who qualify for the Advanced Data Protection feature can begin encrypting their iCloud backups.