Apple launched a new iMessage security feature yesterday in beta called Contact Key Verification. We learned the basics of how it works yesterday but now Apple has published technical details of how the next-level iMessage security feature operates – including a unique solution to a problem that other messaging services face.
The new iMessage security feature protects against a threat that hasn’t been seen in the wild yet, but Apple has built a robust defense to help make sure it stays that way.
When enabled, the opt-in Contact Key Verification gives automatic alerts if the iMessage key distribution services return device keys that have not been verified (e.g. if an unrecognized device has been added to an iMessage account).
And even more security is available by using CKV in person, on FaceTime, or via another secure method like another phone call.
Now Apple has shared in-depth details on how the new iMessage security feature works on its Security Research blog.
Here’s a brief history of the security features Apple has implemented with iMessage over the years:
Apple’s iMessage was the first widely available messaging service to provide secure end-to-end encryption by default, starting from when it launched in 2011. As security threats have evolved, we’ve continued to strengthen iMessage by upgrading the protocol with stronger cryptographic primitives and adding more robust key management that takes advantage of hardware protections offered by the Secure Enclave. In iOS 14, we added BlastDoor, an advanced sandboxing mechanism that makes it vastly more difficult to attack the device with malicious content in the Messages app. And in iOS 16 we introduced Lockdown Mode, a groundbreaking protection for the very small number of users who face grave, targeted threats to their digital security — and which includes powerful additional security hardening in the Messages app when enabled. Today, we’d like to share…
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