Apple now stores private data on Google Cloud

According to an update that appeared in Apple’s January iOS Security Guide, the company has shifted to Google Cloud Platform as the preferred storage location for its iCloud services.

Those who regularly follow the latest Apple news will be aware that the firm has for a long time utilised Microsoft Azure as well as Amazon’s S3 for this purpose, but a reference to the former service has now made way for one mentioning Google’s cloud storage service.

Way back in 2016, rumours started doing the rounds that Apple could soon bring Google into the whole equation, but the iOS Security Guide (which CNBC spotted first) represents the first confirmation that can be regarded as official.

Data stored on Google cloud can include documents, videos, photos, calendars, contacts and more. Apple is, however, eager to stress that there is absolutely no way for Google to access any of that information. This is because every single file is first broken into different segments by iCloud and then encrypted utilising AES-128 as well as a key derived from each individual segment’s contents that uses SHA-256.

Apple then stores the file’s metadata and the keys in that specific user’s iCloud account. The encrypted file segments are stored without any information that could identify the user in third party storage services such as Google Cloud Platform and S3.

To put it differently: all Google would be able to see is encrypted data which makes no sense on its own, without any way of tying that to any specific person. Apple does not reveal any information about how it uses third-party storage services, so it might be possible that it spreads the same user data over different platforms.
The iOS Security Guide is a document used by Apple to set out the steps it takes to protect the privacy of its clients and the security of iOS.

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About the author


I've been a passionate evangelist for Apple and the Macintosh throughout my working life, my first love was a Quadra 605 working with a small creative agency in the south of Norfolk UK in the mid 1990's, I later progressed to other roles in other Macintosh dominated industries, first as a Senior graphic designer at a small printing company and then a production manager at Guardian Media Group. As the publishing and printing sector wained I moved into Internet Marketing and in 2006 co-founded which grew to become one the top 200 visited sites in the US (according to Quantcast), at its peak receiving over 15 million visits per month. For the last ten years I have worked as an Affiliate and Consultant to many different business and start ups, my key skill set being online marketing, on page monetisation, landing page optimisation and traffic generation, if you would like to hire me or discuss your current project please reach out to me here.

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