According to the digital forensics firm Elcomsoft, Apple mobile devices automatically send call history to the company when the iCloud is enabled, it also stores the data for up to four months.
The only way to prevent such activity is to completely disable the cloud synchronization feature.
“iCloud sync is everywhere. Your contacts and calendars, system backups and photos can be stored in the cloud on Apple servers. This time, we discovered that yet another piece of data is stored in the cloud for no apparent reason. Using an iPhone and have an active iCloud account? Your calls will sync with iCloud whether you want it or not. In fact, most users we’ve heard from don’t want this “feature”, yet Apple has no official way to turn off this behavior other than telling people “not using the same Apple ID on different devices”. What’s up with that? Let’s try to find out.” reads the analysis published by Elcomsoft.
Elcomsoft tools could allow determining what personal data is synchronized with Apple servers and how to prevent it.
When the iCloud feature is enabled, Apple mobile devices automatically collect and send back to the company private information such as call history, phone numbers, phone call metadata (i.e. Length of calls).
The iPhone also sends information collected from other third-party VoOP applications, including Facebook Messenger, Viber, WhatsApp, and Skype.
Security experts highlighted the low level of protection of users’ data in Apple iCloud, that could be easily accessed by law enforcement.
“So far, we had no reasons to doubt this policy. However, we’ve seen Apple moving more and more data into the cloud. iCloud data (backups, call logs, contacts and so on) is very loosely protected, allowing Apple itself or any third party with access to proper credentials extracting this information. Information stored in Apple iCloud is of course available to law enforcement.” continues Elcomsoft .
Even logs are sent in real time to Apple when iCloud Drive is enabled. If users want to stop sharing their logs with Apple need to disable iCloud Drive completely, an operation that has an impact on many applications.
“Syncing call logs happens almost in real time, though sometimes only in a few hours,” says Elcomsoft CEO Vladimir Katalov. “But all you need to have is just iCloud Drive enabled, and there is no way to turn that syncing off, apart from just disabling iCloud Drive completely. In that case, many applications will stop working or lose iCloud-related features completely.”
Apple, of course, defends its iCloud Sync feature ensuring that customers’ data is encrypted and protected with a two-factor authentication mechanism.
“We offer call history syncing as a convenience to our customers so that they can return calls from any of their devices. Apple is deeply committed to safeguarding our customers’ data. That is why we give our customers the ability to keep their data private. Device data is encrypted with a user’s passcode, and access to iCloud data including backups requires the user’s Apple ID and password. Apple recommends all customers select strong passwords and use two-factor authentication.” is the official statement from the company.
(Security Affairs – iPhone, mobile)