Your Safari bookmarks are now protected by end-to-end encryption

Macos Big Sur Preview Safari Hero
Macos Big Sur Preview Safari Hero (Image credit: Rene Ritchie)

What you need to know

  • Apple has enabled end-to-end encryption for Safari bookmarks.
  • It isn't clear when the change was made, but it appears to have been around the time iOS 15 was made available.

Apple has quietly enabled end-to-end (E2E) encryption of bookmarks, ensuring that nobody can get access to the websites people save for easier access via the Safari web browser. It isn't immediately clear when Apple made the change, but its iCloud security overview support document was last updated on September 25 — around the time iOS 15 was released and iPhone 13 went on sale.

The change was first spotted by a Reddit user.

The move means that nobody, not even Apple, can access any of the bookmarks saved in Safari. Here's how Apple explains E2E encryption on its devices.

End-to-end encryption provides the highest level of data security. On each of your devices, the data that you store in iCloud and that's associated with your Apple ID is protected with a key derived from information unique to that device, combined with your device passcode which only you know. No one else, not even Apple, can access end-to-end encrypted information.

Having E2E encryption enabled requires that users also have two-factor authentication enabled, while a device passcode is also a must.

The latest move to E2E encryption further helps drive home what Apple sees as one of the best iPhone selling points it can point to — privacy. Skeptics will note that iCloud backups remain open to some extent, however. Backups are only encrypted in transit and on Apple's servers, allowing Apple to gain access if it is ordered to by law enforcement.

Backups aren't alone in being encrypted on Apple's servers. Its own iCloud security document explains more.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.