Is Apple opening a back door to a privacy threat?

How to get ahead of evolving Cyber threats in your business.

Dorota Gibiino 25 August 2021

Earlier this month, Apple Inc announced they will roll out a system later this year that will check photos for child abuse imagery and report material to law enforcement in a way that will preserve user privacy. This is one of the several new features aimed at better protecting the children who use Apple Inc services from online harm, including; 

  • Filters to block potentially sexually explicit photos sent and received through a child’s iMessage account.  
  • The Messages app will use on-device machine learning to warn about sensitive content.
  • Intervene when a user tries to search for CSAM-related terms through Siri and Search. 

Read more on the Expanded Protections for Children that Apple will release later this year. 

Concerns raised for Apple's child protection features 

As great as this initiative is, it left users concerned there is an ulterior motive to use this tool as a back door that reduces privacy, leading to the following questions - Does this break end-to-end encryption in Messages? Does this mean Apple is going to scan all the photos stored on my iPhone? And will CSAM detection in iCloud Photos falsely report innocent people to law enforcement? 

Apple has responded to this and said the system has been in development for years and reassured it was not built for governments to monitor citizens. In no way does it change the privacy assurances of Messages, and Apple never gains access to communications as a result of this feature. The system will use Cryptography to compare images with a known database provided by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.  

As for falsely reporting innocent people, Apple said “the likelihood that the system would incorrectly identify any given account is less than one in one trillion per year. Any time an account is identified by the system, Apple conducts human review before making a report to NCMEC.” 

Want to find out more? Read these FAQs on Apples expanded protections.  

Get future proofed with Primenet - How to combat potential back door cyber threats  

Although Apple have reassured this is not a back door threat that breaks Privacy policies, it’s important to know how to identify real back door cyber threats. Primenet partner with cyber experts like Cynet to helping to quickly identify Cyber risk and eliminate new incoming attempts to de-stabilise companies. 

Cynet is an autonomous breach protection platform that natively integrates XDR endpoint, user and network attack prevention and detection capabilities with an incident engine that fully automates investigation and remediation actions, backed by 24/7 world-class MDR services. What makes it better? You can clearly view your data from your mobile or desktop. 

Learn about the full range of services provided by Cynet’s research and CyOps teams - They work together to track the malicious activities of threat groups. Advanced threat groups that target companies for financial gain frequently modify their TTPs and alter their malware to evade defences. 

Speak to our Cyber Team, we can provide you with a resilient solution. 

We offer a FREE evaluation meeting to enable you to explore how your company's security solution could be managed by a unified platform to Prevent – Detect – Investigate and fully remediate the broad range of attack vectors.