Your Call History Is Sent To Apple Via iCloud Says Security Firm

The Intercept is reporting that Russian digital forensics Elcomsoft has found that iPhones send near real-time logs to Apple servers even when iCloud backup is switched off. The firm adds that these logs are stored for up to four months. From the report:

The logs surreptitiously uploaded to Apple contain a list of all calls made and received on an iOS device, complete with phone numbers, dates and times, and duration. They also include missed and bypassed calls. Elcomsoft said Apple retains the data in a user’s iCloud account for up to four months, providing a boon to law enforcement, who may not be able to obtain the data either from the user’s carrier, who may retain the data for only a short period, or from the user’s device, if it’s encrypted with an unbreakable passcode.

And:

It’s not just regular call logs that get sent to Apple’s servers. FaceTime, which is used to make audio and video calls on iOS devices, also syncs call history to iCloud automatically, according to Elcomsoft. The company believes syncing of both regular calls and FaceTime call logs goes back to at least iOS 8.2, which Apple released in March 2015.

And beginning with Apple’s latest operating system, iOS 10, incoming missed calls that are made through third-party VoIP applications like Skype, WhatsApp, and Viber, and that use Apple CallKit to make the calls, also get logged to the cloud, [Vladimir] Katalov [CEO of Elcomsoft] said.

Lovely. But it is actually worse than what I’ve printed above:

Generally, if someone were to attempt to download data in an iCloud account, the system would email a notification to the account owner. But Katalov said no notification occurs when someone downloads synced call logs from iCloud.

Law enforcement and hackers must really be thrilled with that news. Apple for it’s part said this:

Apple acknowledged that the call logs are being synced and said it’s intentional.

“We offer call history syncing as a convenience to our customers so that they can return calls from any of their devices,” an Apple spokesperson said in an email. “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.”

The syncing of iCloud call logs would not be the first time Apple has been found collecting data secretly. A few months ago, The Intercept reported about similar activity occurring with iMessage logs.

Elcomsoft said it’s releasing an update to its Phone Breaker software tool today that can be used to extract the call histories from iCloud accounts. And law enforcement tend to be their clients. Thus they will have the ability to grab call histories at will. You can bet hackers are looking at this as well. Thus I’m betting that a bunch of people at 1 Infinite Loop are doing a rethink about how they do this sort of thing so that at the very least they can retain their security and privacy street cred.

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