The iPad uses encryption in many different ways. For example, you can turn on encrypted file storage by setting a passcode on the device's lock screen. You can also use encrypted connections to transfer Web, email and virtual private network data over the Internet securely while also taking advantage of an encrypted Wi-Fi connection. The iPad's iOS operating system even uses encryption behind the scenes for such tasks as fast device erasing and protecting you from malicious applications. These features debuted with version 4.0 of the iOS operating system and are still present as of the fourth generation iPad with iOS 6 in 2013.
Encrypting iPad Data
The iPad has built-in data encryption that uses the Advanced Encryption Standard with a 256-bit key. The U.S. Government approved this cipher and, with a 256-bit key, considers it secure enough to be used for transmitting sensitive information. The iPad’s encryption automatically turns on when you set a passcode for your device in the “Settings” app.
IPad Data Encryption Drawbacks
The data encryption built into the iPad has two key drawbacks. The first is that it doesn’t secure everything on your iPad. If an app doesn’t support the tool, its data won't be protected. The second is that your data is only safe if you choose a strong password. If you use the iPad's “Simple Passcode” option and select an obvious passcode like “1234,” your data won't be safe. To maximize your security, choose a strong password and turn on your iPad’s “Erase Data” feature. This erases your entire iPad after 10 incorrect password attempts.
The Safari Web browser lets you take advantage of the Secure Sockets Layer and Transport Level Security protocols for secure Web browsing. Apple includes support for SSL in the Email app, as well, so that you can safely download your messages. The “Settings” app lets you set your iPad up to use secure VPN connections to connect to corporate networks over an encrypted channel. Wi-Fi connections can be encrypted using Wi-Fi Protected Access, Wired Equivalent Privacy or WPA2 encryption protocols, as well.
Behind the Scenes Encryption
The iPad uses encryption as a part of its internal operations. It stores all of its data in an encrypted format, although it doesn't keep the keys secure unless you have a passcode activated. The encrypted storage format makes it easy to wipe the device’s memory. Instead of having to overwrite all the data, the iPad can just delete the encryption keys, rendering the data inaccessible.
Apple also uses encryption to secure its App Store. Every approved app is signed with the creator’s encrypted digital signature. When you put an app on your iPad, it looks for the signature before allowing the app to run. Since only Apple can issue the signatures, it prevents anyone from submitting malicious code.
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