Apple could bring iMessage Contact Key Verification in iOS 16
Apple released iOS 16.6 beta to testers a couple of days ago. The update introduces a new setting that could be used to enable iMessage Contact Key Verification.
The Cupertino company had revealed the feature in December 2022, along with Advanced Data Protection for iCloud, encrypted iCloud Backups and Security Keys. Apple had said that it planned to launch iMessage Contact Key Verification globally in 2023. But we haven't seen the feature in iOS, until now.
iOS 16.6 could add support for iMessage Contact Key Verification
The latest beta of iOS adds a new toggle for iMessage Contact Key Verification in the Settings app. The option, which was spotted by MacRumors, does not do anything as of now, it's likely a placeholder for the future.
So, what is iMessage Contact Key Verification? How does it protect you? It is a security feature that allows you to verify that you are communicating with your contact, and not a third party who is impersonating your friend. As you may be aware, Apple's messaging app supports end-to-end encryption. iMessage Contact Key Verification takes the security of users a step further by preventing hackers from snooping in on conversations.
The feature has been designed to warn users, who have enabled iMessage Contact Key Verification, to know when an attacker has added their own device to one of the user's contacts, or has managed to breach a cloud server to spy on the user. Let's say a hacker has managed to compromise your contact's account and added themselves to a group chat, iMessage will display a warning to indicate that the conversation may not be secure. Apple will also allow users to verify whether a contact is legitimate by comparing a Contact Verification Code. If you can't compare the code in person, you may be pleased to learn that Apple's implementation of the privacy-friendly option goes beyond iMessage, it can also be used on FaceTime, or via a secure call.
Apple says that iMessage Contact Key Verification would help high-profile targets such as activists, journalists, or government employees from being targeted by state-sponsored attacks. The company had also introduced Lockdown mode on iPhone, iPad and Mac to protect users from hackers.
While Lockdown mode may be an extreme measure for regular users, there is no reason why everyone shouldn't use Contact Key Verification for iMessage, to protect their privacy.
This isn't a particularly new technology, WhatsApp and Signal have a similar feature in their apps that allows users to check the authenticity of their contact's account.
The introduction of the Setting to enable the feature suggests that Apple is getting things ready to start supporting iMessage Contact Key Verification. And since it has appeared in iOS 16.6 beta, the company could introduce the security option in the stable version that could be released next month.
Speaking of which, Apple is set to reveal iOS 17 in June at WWDC 2023, alongside iPadOS 17, macOS 14, watchOS 10.
Want to use iMessage on your PC? Microsoft's Phone Link for iOS now lets you text and call your friends from your Windows 11 computer.