November 17, 2016 Last Updated 9:45 am

Security firm warns iPhone users that they may not be aware that their calls sync with iCloud

Apple says feature is there so that iPhone owners can return calls from their call history from any device, but data stored in the cloud is data this is potentially accessible

This has been a bad week for consumers hoping their cellphones are not sharing data with nefarious characters. Earlier this week we learned that if you bought an inexpensive phone from Amazon or Best Buy there is a chance that it has been sending data to Chinese servers (phone models made by Adups are the culprit).

Now, Elcomsoft claims that Apple is, for reasons unknown. allowing call data to sync with iCloud.

iphone-call-400“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?” wrote Oleg Afonin on the Elcomsoft blog.

The company is pretty generous in its praise of Apple for is stance against government requests for data access, but it also wonders why Apple is ” Apple moving more and more data into the cloud” and therefore making that data more accessible to law enforcement. The authorities, after all, can only go after data that has been stored, so the best way to secure data is, obviously, to not store it at all.

“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 to The Intercept, which predictably is making a big deal out of this. ”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.”

I have been very leery of using cloud storage of anything, but the big tech companies have made it impossible to avoid it. Want to use Gmail? Well, you know that you’ve just opened up your life to the search giant. Apple, who couldn’t launch their cloud services without massive screw ups, has made a massive push for its cloud services.

The good news is that by disabling iCloud Drive you will prevent call sync, and at the same time allow other iCloud services to continue.

The solution for Apple will be easy in an update or future iOS version: allowing consumers to opt out of call syncing. I actually expect them to do this.

Left unsaid in the reporting on this issue is who this kind of data sharing really effects. No one really thinks that dishonest characters don’t know about all the ways their data is stored and can be accessed. It is the rest of us who end up being effected. Sadly, there are those who continue to be naive about this issue, saying “if you have nothing to hide…” But the issue is data access, we all have things to hide, like our financial information which we want kept away from those who like to steal identifies, hack our bank accounts, etc. Unwanted data sharing is about making us possible victims.

Photo (treated): iPhone by Thomas van de Weerd used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

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