Apple has made amendments to its living iOS Security Guide document to confirm that it now uses Google servers to store user’s iCloud data.
Under the iCloud heading in the document, Apple now references Google Cloud Platform alongside Amazon S3 as one of its utilized third-party storage services.
Previous versions of the iOS Security Guide had confirmed that Apple used Amazon S3 and Microsoft’s Azure platform to securely hold iCloud data. It was suggested as far back as 2016 that Apple would make some changes to how that data is stored and that it would likely use Google’s mature and efficient Cloud Platform as part of those changes.
Over twelve months later, the iOS Security Guide has been revised to confirm that Google is now part of Apple’s iCloud solution.
As far as data is concerned, it’s possible that Apple is storing photos, contacts, calendar information, documents, and videos – basically, anything that can potentially be uploaded to iCloud through first or third-party apps – on Google’s servers, but the company is keen to stress in the Security Guide that the data is meaningless to Google and that the company cannot access anything meaningful or access a user’s private files – which for endusers mean there’s no need to panic:
Each file is broken into chunks and encrypted by iCloud using AES-128 and a key derived from each chunk’s contents that utilizes SHA-256. The keys and the file’s metadata are stored by Apple in the user’s iCloud account. The encrypted chunks of the file are stored, without any user-identifying information, using third-party storage services, such as S3 and Google Cloud Platform.
Apple uses the iOS Security Guide to give additional insight into the steps and actions that it takes to ensure that iOS is as secure as it possibly can be. Having references to Google’s Cloud Platform within this document could immediately be a red flag for some users who knowingly choose to boycott any Google services or products through privacy concerns.
However, given how intricate a feature and service iCloud is, and given that Apple uses multiple third-party storage providers to make iCloud work, it’s likely that a user’s data is spread out across multiple services rather than having a single-point of failure. You can read more about iCloud and iOS security in general in the iOS Security Guide.
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