Report: Apple Storing Users’ Data Even When Cloud Backup Turned Off





© AFP/File Jewel Samad


by Lucas Nolan


Russian software company Elcomsoft claims that iPhone call logs are transmitted back to Apple, regardless of whether users have iCloud backup enabled or not.


Vladamir Katalov, the CEO of Elcomsoft which specialises in cracking iPhone’s for governments and corporations, spoke to Forbes magazine outlining the level of data that is transferred to Apple servers without users’ knowledge.


All FaceTime calls are logged in the iCloud too, whilst as of iOS 10 incoming missed calls from apps like WhatsApp and Skype are uploaded”  said Katalov, “Syncing call logs happens almost in real time, though sometimes only in a few hours,” he added. “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.”


Katalov state that although Apple regularly cooperates with law enforcement when providing access to iCloud backups of user information, they do not disclose to their users that their data is being collected even if they have disabled iCloud. Katalov also stated that Apple’s claim that they only store FaceTime call logs for 30 days is false: “Synced data contains full information including call duration and both parties. We were able to extract information going back more than four months.”


Jonathan Zdiarski, an iOS forensics expert, told Forbes that he does not believe this is an intentional attempt by Apple to steal users’ data but rather an oversight on their part,


I suspect that this is probably more of an engineering issue around making handoff work when you are answering calls between your phone and your desktop or if you’re using FaceTime on your desktop. They need to be able to sync a lot of that call data. I suspect whatever software engineer wrote that part of it probably decided to just go and stick that data in your iCloud Drive because that’s kind of what its purpose is. I’m convinced it wasn’t very well thought out if that’s the case.


Apple currently encrypts all iCloud data using their own system, allowing them full access to any data backed up to their server. However Apple has stated that they plan to move to an end to end encryption format in the future.



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