iOS Profiles & Encrypted Backups

When I got my iPhone, it uses a 4-digit passcode to protect its contents. Unsatisfied with this, I found the iPhone Configuration Utility (iPCU), which was the only way at that time to enable complex passcodes (passwords) on the phone. After creating a profile and uploading it to the phone using the iPCU, my backups were all forced to be encrypted.

Encrypted backups are not good for tinkering because you need to decrypt the files before you can edit them, and you need to re-encrypt them for it to be restored to the phone. I’m not sure about the encryption scheme, or which programs can access encrypted backups since the encryption happens on the phone.

I don’t remember seeing an option in the iPCU that says “Force iTunes encryption” or similar, so why was this happening? Recently when I was digging through the iPhone OS Enterprise Deployment Guide, I found an important note, under “Backing Up a Device with iTunes”, that reads “If the device being backed up has any encrypted profiles installed, iTunes requires the user to enable backup encryption.”

If you upload any profiles using iPCU, it’s convenient – it goes into the phone directly, but at the same time it also encrypts the configuration for the phone.

For my new iOS devices I simply signed it, and uploaded onto a web server and accessed it from the device. This prevents the backups from being forced to be encrypted, but at the same time it creates a chicken and egg problem – how does my device access the web server without the WiFi profile settings?

I’ll look into that another time.


2 comments on “iOS Profiles & Encrypted Backups

  1. […] Configuration Utility (iPCU). When I created a profile to use a complex passcode, I inadvertently forced my iPhone backups to be encrypted and now that the “Encrypt iPhone backup” checkbox is grayed out, I can’t stop […]

  2. achilles mavropoulos says:

    pls help..

    i had a dying iphone 6s plus , i bought an xs…
    i made backup on i tunes from 6s and then itunes asked me to update it to ios 15.4.1… i made it but it stoped and itunes forced me to make it factory default… so i do that….

    once i plugged it on my laptop it made an automatic sync and corrupted??? replaced?? my backup…

    i say corrupted??? -replaced?? cause itunes wrote inside the same backup folder , renamed old manifest.db to manifest_d.db, made a new manifest.db , a new info.plist , a new manifest.plist. a new status.plist and kept all the other files (i see 40gb of backup).

    how can i restore the files (photos and videos) or extract them ?

    i tried to rename manifest_d to manifest but it didnt work …. i tried also on an old working backup inserting lines in its db but no luck…

    any clue?

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