Apple PQ3 Protocol: iMessage Gets Post-Quantum Encryption

Z Patel

New Encryption Standard Continues Apple’s Commitment to User, Data Privacy

Apple has introduced a new encryption protocol called PQ3 for iMessage in response to the threat of quantum computing attacks. This enhanced security measure aims to protect iMessage from future quantum threats and provide level 3 security, surpassing that of other widely used messaging apps.

What’s Happening & Why This Matters

The PQ3 protocol is a significant advancement that strengthens iMessage’s security. It uses cutting-edge encryption, making it the most secure cryptographic protocol in widespread use. This is the latest in a series of security enhancements by Apple, following the switch from RSA to Elliptic Curve cryptography (ECC) and the protection of encryption keys on devices with the Secure Enclave in 2019.

Quantum computing presents a risk to current public-key cryptography algorithms, as a potential breakthrough in this area could potentially threaten end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) communications. To counteract this threat, Apple has integrated PQ3 into iMessage, combining the Kyber and ECC algorithms to achieve Level 3 security.

To mitigate the impact of key compromises, PQ3 features a key rotation scheme that guarantees keys are rotated every 50 messages at most and at least once every seven days. The introduction of PQ3 is expected to begin with the release of iOS 17.4, iPadOS 17.4, macOS 14.4, and watchOS 10.4 next month.


t/f Summary: What’s Next

In addition to the iMessage security upgrade, Apple has announced plans to bring Rich Communication Services (RCS) to its Messages app, with a focus on improving the security and encryption of RCS messages. While RCS messages do not implement E2EE by default, Google’s Messages app for Android uses the Signal Protocol to secure RCS conversations.

While the adoption of advanced protections is always a welcome step, it remains to be seen if this will be expanded beyond iMessage to include RCS messages. Stay updated with the latest content by following us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Share This Article
Avatar photo
By Z Patel “TF AI Specialist”
Zara ‘Z’ Patel stands as a beacon of expertise in the field of digital innovation and Artificial Intelligence. Holding a Ph.D. in Computer Science with a specialization in Machine Learning, Z has worked extensively in AI research and development. Her career includes tenure at leading tech firms where she contributed to breakthrough innovations in AI applications. Z is passionate about the ethical and practical implications of AI in everyday life and is an advocate for responsible and innovative AI use.
Leave a comment