Apple seems intent on emphasizing user privacy and setting itself apart from other heavy hitters in the technology industry.

CEO Tim Cook has a new message to Apple users who might be questioning the security of their data following an iCloud hacking that led to hundreds of nude celebrity photos leaked over the Internet.

"Security and privacy are fundamental to the design of all our hardware, software and services, including iCloud and new services like Apple Pay," Cook says in an open letter published on Apple's new Privacy page. "And we continue to make improvements."

Just days before Apple was set to unveil Apple Pay, its mobile payment system that is highly dependent on keeping users' credit card information secure, Cupertino's headquarters was rocked by an iCloud hacking scandal that had security experts criticizing Apple for lax security measures and an inefficient security alert system. Apple maintains the hackers were not able to penetrate iCloud because of poor security but because they launched a targeted attack against certain iCloud users.

All the same, Apple is boosting security with a new privacy section on its website that teaches users how to secure their devices. In addition to using a strong password and enabling two-step verification, Apple recommends that users make the answers to their security questions hard to guess and to change their passwords from time to time. Apple also educates users on phishing scams, where Internet crooks attempt to extract sensitive information from the user by posing as legitimate third parties, and reminds them to be aware of what they're sharing.

Apple emphasizes that it does not use private user information, such as Web browsing habits and email content, to create a user profile that will allow the company to deliver advertisements because its business relies primarily on building products that customers want to buy instead of advertising on those products. Unlike Google and Facebook, Apple is serious about "telling you up front exactly what's going to happen to your personal information." Cook says Apple's privacy policy also entails that the user must explicitly submit his consent before allowing Apple to get hold of user information only "to provide you with a better user experience."

"A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you're not the customer. You're the product," Cook says. "But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn't come at the expense of your privacy."

Cook also makes it clear that Apple has never worked with government agencies to create a "back door" to users' information and says that only 0.00385 percent of Apple customers had their data disclosed in government information requests. Majority, or 93 percent of these disclosures, Apple says, comes from agencies working with an Apple user requesting assistance with a stolen device. The remaining 7 percent of data requests involve customer information stored in iTunes or iCloud, with only "a small fraction" involving requests for email, photos and other data.

"We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will," says Cook. 

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