With neverending threats to your privacy lurking online, here are some cool ways Apple’s iCloud can help keep you (and your data) safe.
In an age where information is the new currency, tech companies are scrambling for increasingly granular ways to get as much of it as possible. Thankfully, Apple has introduced several built-in features in iCloud for its privacy-focused users.
If you’re already spending money on an iCloud+ subscription, here’s how you can better protect yourself online:
App Tracking Transparency (ATT)
In some cases, developers put unnecessary permissions, which lets them access additional data on your device from other apps and websites. Often a sneaky way to gather data to be bought and sold to the highest bidder, developers can require access to information, which isn’t necessary to run their app’s intended use.
Thankfully, Apple released its App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature in 2021. Designed to give you more control over your data, ATT helps you manage how app developers track and collect it.
To automatically deny all app tracking requests from new apps, open the Settings app on your iPhone and tap Privacy & Security.
Next, in the upper portion of the screen, tap Tracking.
Lastly, next to Allow Apps to Request to Track, toggle off the button.
Afterward, new apps that wish to track your usage across other apps will need to request your permission via a pop-up. On the notification, you can either select “Ask App not to track” or “Allow.” In general, when it comes to sharing your data unnecessarily, saying no is always the better option.
iCloud Private Relay
When data is organized, it can better predict your buying habits or predisposition to making decisions based on historical information. For this reason, centralized data becomes even more attractive to people looking to make money off of it. While there are advantages to this, such as having better recommendations on your shopping apps or relevant ads, having a granular customer profile carries its own set of risks.
Thankfully, for iCloud+ subscribers, Apple introduced the iCloud Private Relay to decentralize your browsing activity over time.
Like a Virtual Private Network (VPN), Private Relay creates a temporary IP address that encrypts your Domain Name System (DNS) records. DNS records are like living maps that help bridge the complex numbers of IP addresses into easily remembered domain names, such as howtogeek.com.
To enable iCloud Private Relay on your iPhone, you must first launch your Settings app and tap your Apple ID name.
In the Apple ID page, select “iCloud.”
Under iCloud+, tap “Private Relay.” In the event that Private Relay is not available in your country, there will be “Not Supported” written next to the arrow.
To seal the deal, next to Allow Apps to Request to Track, toggle on the button.
Encrypting DNS traffic is important because it helps protect your browsing history from third parties, such as internet service providers and even hackers in your local Wi-Fi network. In addition, it also makes it possible to avoid DNS hijacking, which is when bad actors try to simulate official websites such as your bank, in hopes of stealing your log-in information.
Mail Privacy Protection
According to Apple, Mail Privacy Protection prevents senders from knowing when you’ve opened their emails and from sharing your IP address when you load its contents. So, if there are emails from someone you want to read without notifying the sender, this might be a nifty solution for you too.
To enable Mail Privacy Protection on your iPhone, open the Settings app and tap “Mail.”
Under Messages, select “Privacy Protection.”
Next to Protect Mail Activity, toggle on the button.
Once this feature is activated, you can send and receive emails on the Apple Mail app normally (but with added protection). However, it’s important to understand that the Mail Privacy Protection feature will only work with emails sent to your Mail app. So, if you’re using another app to read your emails, you may want to reconsider giving Apple Mail another shot.
Hide Your Email
For iCloud+ subscribers, Apple introduced the Hide My Email feature, which you can use to create a middleman email address and hide your real one. After you’ve enabled Hide My Email on your iPhone or iPad, you can send emails using your temporary email address in just a few taps.
To send an email using an Apple-generated email address on your iPhone, go to your Mail app. In the lower-right corner of the screen, tap the New Message icon.
Next, fill out the rest of the email, such as the recipient, subject, and body. Then, tap “From.” Select “Hide My Email” in the drop-down screen.
When using the Hide Your Email feature on iCloud, you can only send an email to one recipient at a time. Once this recipient responds, their email will be forwarded to your inbox. Afterward, you can continue the conversation via your real email, while they can still only view your randomized email address.
Password Leak Scanner
For the ordinary person, it can be impossible to track all the random accounts you’ve made throughout your entire internet history. In fact, many of us may not even remember all of the accounts we’ve had to make to access all the services we use online, let alone the passwords that came with them.
However, having poor password practices can definitely make your life difficult, with bad actors just eager to steal your identity or what’s in your online bank account. Thankfully, Apple has made it possible to check if your passwords have been leaked on the dark web or any other known place on the internet.
To enable compromised password detection for iCloud-linked accounts, open your Settings app and select “Passwords.”
In the upper portion of the screen, tap “Security Recommendations.”
Then, next to Detect Compromised Passwords and toggle on the button.
Once this feature is enabled, you can access these recommendations any time. Aside from passwords that have been involved in data leaks, this iCloud feature also notifies you if your password is easy to guess and even cautions you against reusing passwords.
Keep Your Data Safe with iCloud
With these iCloud features in your arsenal, there’s no doubt that you’re in a better position than without it. However, bear in mind that knowing about these features is only the first step. Without being mindful, many of these features can also act as a double-edged sword. For example, the App Privacy Report, which keeps a record of your phone’s activities, could also be a potential privacy risk.
In addition, it’s always important to understand the distinction between security and privacy. On the surface, these iCloud features can help you maintain some degree of privacy and manage who and how much of your information can be accessed. However, if you want to truly be secure, you’ll need to take additional steps to prevent any damage from potential leaks, such as creating stronger passwords, adding OTPs to your log-ins, and being careful about what apps you download to your devices.