Apple updates iMessage with new 'post-quantum' encryption protocol

Apple has rolled out an update to iMessage's encryption, which includes post-quantum protections and which the company calls “the most significant encryption security upgrade” in the messaging software's history.

in Blog post Published on Wednesday, Apple announced the arrival of PQ3, a new encryption protocol designed to seriously upgrade the security of the messenger. Since its launch in 2011, iMessage has offered… End-to-end encryption– Which is nice if you want to keep your conversations private. It's also not a whole thing Provides messenger on the web. However, Apple's encryption wasn't always like this Safe as it should be. With the latest update, Apple claims that your messages will now be more secure than ever. So secure, in fact, that Apple invented a whole new level of security — what it calls “Level 3” — to mark the unparalleled protection your iPhone conversations will have.

The blog states:

With resilient cryptography and comprehensive defenses against highly sophisticated quantum attacks, PQ3 is the first messaging protocol to reach what we call Level 3 security – providing protocol protection superior to that of all other widely deployed messaging applications. To our knowledge, PQ3 has the strongest security properties of any broadband messaging protocol in the world.

Apple clearly feels so confident about this assessment of unparalleled security that it provided an infographic showing how iMessage now outperforms other messaging programs, including the popular Signal privacy app:

Screenshot: apple

In short: This is generally good news. However, it's easy to find Apple's new “post-quantum” protections kind of funny since quantum computers don't actually exist yet. In fact, while governments and large corporations Like Google They are currently racing To develop To them, fully functional machines have not been disclosed to the public at this time. However, scientists seem confident that quantum computers will eventually arrive. And when they do, experts say they will Completely upside down Our way of life, leading to breakthroughs in everything from science and medicine to mathematics.

Notably, quantum computers are likely to be the same Be able to break Current public key encryption algorithms, thus opening up a significant portion of the Internet – that is Currently protected by public key systems. There is some speculation that quantum-related attacks are already happening –So-called “harvest now, decrypt later” attacks.where a sophisticated hacker can collect massive amounts of encrypted data in the hope of later using a quantum machine to decrypt it.

Apple's new protocol is designed to protect against these types of attacks. It is powered by a “post-quantum secure” algorithm known as Kyber. which has been developed By researchers associated with the National Institute of Technology and Standards (NIST), an organization that has been at the forefront of cryptographic protocol development for years. It should be noted that not all of NIST's algorithms are post-quantum Have been found to be safe; However, in general, they are believed to be more secure than existing public key systems which are, in themselves, Pretty damn safe.

Apple isn't the only company offering post-encryption protection. Last summer it was has been reported That Google was working on post-quantum encryption standards to protect Chrome users from the same hypothetical hackers in the future. a List of other notable companies They agreed to further develop similar protections in their products and platforms.

Security experts praised Apple for updating iMessage. Matthew Green, the famous cryptography professor at Johns Hopkins University, PQ3 is called “Very Good” He said it was a good improvement over Apple's previous messaging defenses. “You might suggest that this is an exaggeration. Quantum computers are still years away, and a compromise is rare. So why should I care about this?” Green Written on X. “The answer is that you probably don't. It's an exaggeration. But sometimes, hyperbole sends a useful message, one that people who are not technical at all should hear.”

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