Apple’s Next Security Update May Not Be User-Friendly

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As Apple and the FBI face off in an increasingly public legal battle, the company is looking for more ways to keep its customers’ data safe. Apple executives have said the company is developing new security measures, which could include a change that would render users’ information inaccessible even to its employees. But that change could make Apple products less easy to use—at a time when the company is being criticized for the increasing complexity of its software.

Until now, the changes that Apple has incorporated into successive versions of its hardware and software have largely stayed out of the user’s way. An update to the iOS operating system in 2014 encrypted the entire contents of every compatible iPhone and iPad, while still allowing users to unlock their phones with just a four-digit passcode. And most recent Apple devices are equipped with fingerprint readers that free users from having to enter the passcode every time they unlock their devices.

But now, Apple is said to be considering a change that would significantly boost the security of user data—at a potentially high cost to usability. In briefings with reporters, Apple executives have hinted that the company is looking to make changes that would further strengthen security. According to reports in The New York Times and The Financial Times, that change would affect Apple’s own servers rather than users’ devices.

Currently, new iPhones and iPads are equipped with “full-disk” encryption, a technology that scrambles the entirety of a device’s contents. The only way to decode the data is with a combination of two keys: a unique hardware key bundled with every device, and a passcode chosen by a user.



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