If you are someone like me who saves all of their sensitive information in their iPhone Notes, then you are not alone. Many people keep their passwords, usernames, banking information, and other private data in their iPhone Notes to access them quickly whenever they need.
But how safe are iPhone Notes? Are iPhone notes private? Can the Notes app get hacked? Does Apple have access to your Notes, and is it safe to keep your passwords in Notes?
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How Safe Is iPhone Notes?
All iPhone Notes are encrypted using AES with Galois/Counter Mode (AES-GCM), a mode of symmetric encryption widely adopted for its performance iPhone notes are very safe. After new iPhone notes are created, the original encrypted data is deleted.
Read more about iPhones AES encryption in Wikipedia
The Secure Notes in iOS devices are end-to-end encrypted. When you secure a note, you will need the passcode to view it on iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and the iCloud website. So no matter where you access your Notes, you will always need a password, Touch ID, or Face ID. Moreover, you can have a separate password for each iCloud account.
Once you authenticate yourself to view a Secure Note, a secure session will open in Notes. In this session, you can secure and view other notes without having to enter the password again.
However, this secure session only shows Notes that are protected with that specific password. So if you use a different password for other notes, you will need to authenticate them using their password.
The secure notes session closes when:
- You select the Lock Now option in Notes.
- You lock your iOS or iPadOS device.
- You have switched to the background for more than three minutes on iOS and iPad OS (eight minutes for macOS).
If you type the wrong password three times, it will show a hint to remember the password. If you didn’t create a tip, you would have to make a new secure note with a new password.
However, you won’t access the previously secured notes unless you remember the old password.
So as long as you have a strong password that no one can guess, your iPhone Notes are pretty safe.
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Are iPhones Notes Private?
iPhone notes are private, you can lock notes with a password to protect your sensitive information, but notes use a single password for all your locked notes in an account (like your iCloud account) on all your devices. You can select specific passwords for a particular iPhone note.
In the Notes app, you can lock notes with a password to protect your sensitive information. Notes use a single password for all your locked notes in an account (for example, your iCloud account) on all your devices.
Since many users store their personal and sensitive information in their iPhone Notes, they wonder if their info is private. It turns out they are! iOS Notes come with a Secure Notes feature that allows users to lock their Notes using a password and hide them from plain sight.
Locked Notes are end-to-end encrypted, meaning that neither anyone else nor Apple can view or access your end-to-end encrypted data. End-to-End encryption is regarded as the highest level of security.
The data you store in iCloud on all of your iOS devices with the same Apple ID uses a key and your device’s passcode to protect your data. This key is created using the information that is unique to that particular device.
So no one can access that end-to-end encrypted information, not even Apple. All the information in your Notes is encrypted. It includes images, tables, maps, sketches, and websites. However, Notes that have any other types of attachments cannot be encrypted. So you cannot add such Notes to Secure Notes.
Apple has to be praised for its relentless attention to user security between 2015-2016. Apple denied the FBI TWICE on the request of opening a locked iPhone.
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Can Your Notes App Get Hacked?
No one can hack into Apple Notes. iPhone notes use ES Galois/Counter Mode (AES-GCM) end-to-end symmetric encryption to secure your data, which requires two-factor authentication. So unless the hacker has information about both the security layers, they cannot access your end-to-end encrypted data in Secure Notes on iPhone.
The Notes data you store in iCloud on all of your iOS devices with the same Apple ID uses a key and your device’s passcode to protect your data. This key is created using the information that is unique to that particular device.
So it is challenging to hack your Notes app since the hacker will need both the key and your password that only you know.
Here are some other situations that can get your Notes app hacked:
- You have left your device unlocked and have a weak password for your Secure Notes (a password that’s easily guessed).
- You have shared the contents of your encrypted Notes through a message, email, or text file.
- You have used the same password for your Secure Notes as you do for every other account.
Unless you have jeopardized your Notes data through any of the situations mentioned above, you don’t have to worry about your Notes app being hacked.
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Does Apple Have Access To My Notes?
Apple does have access to unsecured Apple notes but cannot view these secure notes. Secure notes are encrypted using a user-provided passphrase required to view it on iOS, macOS, and the iCloud website, to which Apple doesn’t have access. If you have iCloud backup enabled, iCloud will store the encryption key of secure Notes if you want to recover them.
Apple uses end-to-end encryption for secure Notes. It means that once you secure your Notes by locking them with a password, they are end-to-end encrypted. So only the user who knows the password can decrypt those Notes using their iOS, iPad, or macOS devices that share the same Apple ID.
According to Apple, the end-to-end encrypted data cannot be decrypted by anyone, not even Apple itself. Using end-to-end encryption requires users to have two-factor authentication enabled for their Apple IDs. As a result, even the user will be required to enter the passcode when accessing their data from a new device.
However, if you have the iCloud backup turned on and your Notes secured using the password, the iCloud backup will contain a copy of that encryption key that protects your Notes. It is to ensure that you can recover your Notes any time you want. So if you don’t want to compromise your encryption key, you should not enable iCloud backup.
Is It Safe To Keep My Passwords In Notes?
Apple notes, by default, do not encrypt notes, but they can be protected with a password, Face ID, or Touch ID. Secure Notes are end-to-end encrypted, and only the user with the password and the encryption key can access them. Although a dedicated password manager like LastPass is by far the better option to keep passwords.
You should not store your important and sensitive information in your iPhone Notes without locking them. Unfortunately, 58.24 percent of users surveyed by SpreadPrivacy.com do not realize Apple notes are not encrypted by default.
The Secure Notes feature allows you to lock your iPhone Notes to protect its contents with end-to-end encryption. But nothing is more secure than a password manager such as Last Pass. I’ve used it for years, and it’s a fantastic tool not only to keep your passwords safe, but it saves time since all passwords across every device are auto-filled like Safari passwords but better!
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You should only store your passwords in Notes if you secure those Notes with a password. Moreover, make sure your Notes are only stored on your device or synced with iCloud. If you have your iPhone Notes synced with Gmail, Yahoo, or any other service, you won’t be able to protect their contents.
How To Create Passwords in Apple Botes
- Go to Settings > Notes > Password.
- Enter the password you want to use and create a hint when you forget the password. You can also enable the Face ID or Touch ID features for added safety. However, you will need your password to unlock your Notes.
- Finally, tap Done.
Now go to your Notes app and lock any Notes file that you want.
Do you see a pop-up notification on your iPhone saying “Passcode Expired”? Please read my article to find out what it means and why you are getting this notification.