Apple Has Upgraded iMessage To Protect The Service For When Quantum Computers Attempt To Compromise Its Security

Veloz Lamma

Apple Has Upgraded iMessage To Protect The Service For When Quantum Computers Attempt To Compromise Its Security

Apple’s iMessage is one of the most popular communications services in the world, with more than one billion users interacting with each other through various regions. However, that also makes it a paramount target against security threats, and even though quantum computers are several years away from materializing any kind of virtual offense, Apple likely wants to be ready before an event like this occurs. This is why the security layer of iMessage has been upgraded to post-quantum cryptography, and it will be available in iOS 17.4, iPadOS 17.4, macOS 14.4, and watchOS 10.4.

Quantum computers could easily threaten the current end-to-end encryption of iMessage today, according to Apple

Without the need for quantum-level processing, Apple states in its latest blog post that it has developed a post-quantum cryptographic protocol for iMessage called PQ3, which will protect the service against the most sophisticated cyberattacks. The technology giant also believes that this protocol surpasses every other messaging app out there.

“Today we are announcing the most significant cryptographic security upgrade in iMessage history with the introduction of PQ3, a groundbreaking post-quantum cryptographic protocol that advances the state of the art of end-to-end secure messaging. With compromise-resilient encryption and extensive defenses against even highly sophisticated quantum attacks, PQ3 is the first messaging protocol to reach what we call Level 3 security — providing protocol protections that surpass those in all other widely deployed messaging apps. To our knowledge, PQ3 has the strongest security properties of any at-scale messaging protocol in the world.”

Current messaging services use encryption through a pair of public and private keys. The public key encrypts sent messages, while the receiver uses the private key to decrypt a message, with the entire process happening under our nose, as it should. This cryptography method uses different math functions to break the encryption. A hacker’s ability to decrypt messages lies in the cryptographic cipher paired with raw computing power, which quantum computers can accomplish.

A capable quantum computer can solve these mathematical problems in different ways, which would make it threaten the current state of iMessage. Thankfully, Apple states that PQ3 will completely replace the existing cryptography protocol within all supported conversations later this year, but users must ensure that their devices are running the latest software update to qualify for this advanced security layer.

How will Apple ensure that iMessage will be safe from quantum computer-level threats?

As mentioned above, quantum computers are years away, but Apple has theorized that any entity with malicious intent to break iMessage’s encryption can start collecting data today and decrypt it when quantum computers become more accessible. To protect against future attacks, Apple states that encryption keys must continue changing, with its PQ3 protocol combining Elliptic-Curve cryptography, which is the existing encryption algorithm for iMessage, and post-quantum cryptography.

However, there is no clear way to measure the effectiveness of Apple’s PQ3 standard since there is no easily available quantum computer that can test this new protocol. Perhaps we could witness its benefits in a few years, but for now, we must take Apple’s word. If you want to get an in-depth look at this PQ3 standard, we recommend checking out the company’s research paper by clicking on the source link below.

News Source: Apple

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