Apple Upgrades Its iMessage Security Layer To Post-Quantum Cryptography

iPhone maker Apple just announced today how it was updating its latest security layer on iMessage, starting with iOS mobile phones, iPads, macOS, and watchOS.

The tech giant mentioned how the near future would see the rise of quantum computers that can break down crypto standards. This is why the Cupertino firm says it’s working toward altering how E2E encryption functions across iMessage, without the use of processing power on the quantum level.

Today, top messaging platforms are making use of encryption via public or private keys. The former can encrypt messages sent out while the latter is used to decrypt text messages that receivers can use.

Such technology called cryptography can be utilized to scramble messages from users working today by adding various kinds of match functions. How malicious hackers can decrypt texts relies upon how strong cryptographic ciphers are being used today. This is coupled with the likes of computing power in raw form that’s designed to estimate each person’s combination or respective permutations.

iPhone maker Apple and a series of other firms feel the future is bright and has to do with quantum computers. They’re capable of carrying out computations at a faster or exponential rate and might end up breaking the standards for encryption.

A successful and powerful computer involving quantum technology might solve such classic math problems in several unique ways. In reality, it could do it so quickly that it would threaten the E2E communications and the security involved as confirmed by Apple in a recent blog post.

So how exactly is Apple managing to do all of this? The firm says adversaries may begin gathering encrypted data present today and end up decrypting it after quantum computers become available on a more general basis. This is what tech experts refer to as retrospective decryption.

Across its blog, the iPhone maker mentioned how the goal is to ensure the protection of future attacks on quantum encryption. It thinks this would be possible through amendments made to the encryption keys regularly.

The company’s latest customized protocol features cryptography that includes Elliptic-Curve technology and post-quantum that it calls PQ3. With the latest PQ3 crypto standard, the company mentioned it would be applying that to all chats generated through iMessage. Meanwhile, any older texts and conversations can be attained through refreshing session keys.

Apple questioned two research teams featuring academicians that would be evaluating the standards set out. Ever since the launch of such new systems, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that we’re diving a bit too fast into the future. We are still a few years away from seeing this take center stage in our daily lives.

For now, there’s no real means to measure how effective the iPhone maker’s post-quantum system is. The announcement comes when we’re seeing lawmakers roll out more safety regulations online which would outrun the risks linked to E2E encryption across messaging services.

Similarly, we’re going to be seeing many organizations such as Meta working towards rolling out E2E protection for leading apps in use today like Instagram as well as Messenger.

Image: DIW - AIgen

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