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Apple today announced a new post-quantum cryptographic protocol for iMessage called PQ3. Apple says this "groundbreaking" and "state-of-the-art" protocol provides "extensive defenses against even highly sophisticated quantum attacks."

General-Apps-Messages.jpg

Apple believes the PQ3 protocol's protections "surpass those in all other widely deployed messaging apps," according to its blog post:
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.
PQ3 will be gradually rolling out for supported iMessage conversations starting with iOS 17.4, iPadOS 17.4, macOS 14.4, and watchOS 10.4 in March, and it is already in the latest beta versions of these updates, according to Apple. visionOS will not support the PQ3 protocol during the initial rollout, the company confirmed.

Apple says PQ3 will fully replace iMessage's existing cryptography protocol within all supported conversations later this year. All devices in an iMessage conversation must be updated to the above software versions or later to be eligible.

Post-Quantum Cryptography

iMessage already supports end-to-end encryption, but existing cryptographic protocols that are commonly used by messaging apps rely on mathematical problems that could potentially be solved by future quantum computers.

PQ3 is designed to protect users against "Harvest Now, Decrypt Later" attacks, in which malicious actors collect large amounts of encrypted data now and store it in hopes they will be able to decrypt it with a quantum computer in the future:
Although such quantum computers don't yet exist, extremely well-resourced attackers can already prepare for their possible arrival by taking advantage of the steep decrease in modern data storage costs. The premise is simple: such attackers can collect large amounts of today's encrypted data and file it all away for future reference. Even though they can't decrypt any of this data today, they can retain it until they acquire a quantum computer that can decrypt it in the future, an attack scenario known as Harvest Now, Decrypt Later.
Apple says PQ3 achieves what it calls "Level 3" security, meaning it secures "both the initial key establishment and the ongoing message exchange."

iMessage-PQ3.jpg

For deeply technical details about the protocol, read the Apple Security Research blog post.

Article Link: Apple Announces 'Groundbreaking' New Security Protocol for iMessage
 

MacProFCP

Contributor
Jun 14, 2007
1,186
2,662
Michigan
Governments around the world already rely on iPhones and iMessage for security. This will only enhance the adoption.

I think this is also a large push towards giving customers a reason to stick with iPhone after RCS introduction.

Of course, WhatsApp is far more popular and is controlled by the untrusted Meta.
 

adrianlondon

macrumors 603
Nov 28, 2013
5,004
7,517
Switzerland
I hope they will also update iMessage with ui features. Whatsapp is just so much easier and intuitive to use, that‘s why nobody is using iMessage in Europe.
We (me and my friends) tend to use WhatsApp here in Europe as we don't need to worry about what phone others are using. Plus, it works well on laptops.

I use iMessage with my family as we all have iPhones and/or iPads, but it's WhatsApp (or Line if I really have to, with friends in Asia) for everyone else.
 

obezcinnet

macrumors member
Dec 6, 2012
72
60

ShiftHappens

macrumors member
Dec 6, 2022
55
90
Quantum computing is much closer than ever. Good move by Apple.
Never a bad thing to be proactive, but I highly doubt quantum computers poses an imminent threat. Or, to quote Bruce Schneyer:
I am also skeptical that we are going to see useful quantum computers anytime soon. Since at least 2019, I have been saying that this is hard. And that we don’t know if it’s “land a person on the surface of the moon” hard, or “land a person on the surface of the sun” hard. They’re both hard, but very different.

An interesting article for the interested: https://spectrum.ieee.org/quantum-computing-skeptics
 

HobeSoundDarryl

macrumors G5
  1. Is this a standard others can adopt too... or is this a proprietary, Apple-only protocol?
  2. An Apple-centric answer to RCS or in addition to RCS?
Update: Answer to the #1 appears to be in the lengthy release...

More than simply replacing an existing algorithm with a new one, we rebuilt the iMessage cryptographic protocol from the ground up

"we" appears to be Apple Inc.

What I don't see in the release is if it is to be offered as a standard for others to adopt too or if it will remain an Apple sandbox exclusive... and thus- like Facetime- not used by MOST of the texting devices in the world. Hopefully this is not about "protecting" blue bubbles vs. green bubbles.

I thoroughly applaud the innovation but the big reward in this great security leap seems to be dependent on parties at BOTH ends of the chat using it.
 
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HackMacDaddy

Cancelled
Dec 17, 2019
378
1,095
You are used to it; the UI isn't better than messages or more intuitive.
Oh yes it is much easier.
Just one example: sending a photo from your camera roll using the share button, you have to enter the recipients name manually or go through all of your hundreds of contacts and pick one. In Whatsapp you simply land in your recent chats overview and just click on an Avatar/Chat to send it. I can‘t wrap my head around the fact that I can not do this simplest and most logical thing within iMessage. There are dozens of more examples.
Of course cross platform is a big one but all my relatives have iPhones and still use Whatsapp. When asked why, they answer „because it‘s easier to use“.
 

DominikHoffmann

macrumors 6502
Jan 15, 2007
471
447
Indiana
Is this one of Apple’s inventions? If so, I wonder, whether they will open-source the algorithm for world-wide auditing by security researchers. How would we know, otherwise, whether the claims Apple makes are held up by reality? If they do that, of course, others will implement the same algorithm in their messaging apps, as well.
 

TechnoMonk

macrumors 68000
Oct 15, 2022
1,628
2,180
Never a bad thing to be proactive, but I highly doubt quantum computers poses an imminent threat. Or, to quote Bruce Schneyer:
I am also skeptical that we are going to see useful quantum computers anytime soon. Since at least 2019, I have been saying that this is hard. And that we don’t know if it’s “land a person on the surface of the moon” hard, or “land a person on the surface of the sun” hard. They’re both hard, but very different.

An interesting article for the interested: https://spectrum.ieee.org/quantum-computing-skeptics
The problem just like generative AI/Crypto is people treating them like holy grail of humanity. Quantum computing had made lot of progress in past 2-3 years. I can see it being huge when it comes to security. It won’t solve all the problems, but it just needs to do enough to break the security algorithms. It’s no different than the hype of ChatGPT and other overhyped AI, doesn’t mean it’s totally useless.
 
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