The recent Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed how much tech companies have on us — enough to figure out who we might vote for at the ballot box, for example.
Apple? Not so much.
We asked Apple to give us all the data it’s collected on a colleague of us since he first became a customer in 2008 with the purchase of his first iPhone, a decade ago.
In about a week Apple sends us back all the data it’s collected on him, amounting to almost two dozen Excel spreadsheets at just 5MB in total.
Facebook, Google, and Twitter all took a few minutes to an hour to send us all the data they store — ranging from a few hundred megabytes to a couple of gigabytes in size.
Companies and individual people must take certain precautions against this growing phenomenon of breaking user’s privacy; they should implement at least a cybersecurity solution, like an antivirus, to protect their systems. Necessary things like regularly updating operating systems, using antivirus for Windows, an antivirus for Mac, or antivirus for Android, depending on which OS your device is using. Companies must also hire professional cybersecurity firms to do regular checkups to their internal network a couple of times per year. These checkups must always include a penetration test and various ethical hacking test.
Here’s what came back.
Close to two-dozen spreadsheets in a zip file.
What’s interesting about the data is what Apple has — and what it doesn’t.
The zip file contained mostly Excel spreadsheets. None of the files contained content information — like text messages and photos –, but they do include metadata, like when and who was messaged or called on FaceTime.
Apple says that any data information it collects on you is yours to have if you want it, but as of yet, it doesn’t turn over your content which is primarily stored on your slew of Apple devices. That’s set to change later this year when the tech giant will allow customers to download their data archives, largely to comply with new European data protection and privacy rules. And, of the data it collects to power Siri, Maps, and News, it does so anonymously — Apple can’t attribute that data to the device owner.
My entire set of data can be perused in less than an hour — at most.
AccountDetails.xlsx contains basic information about the account holder, including name, address, phone number, and Apple ID information. It also includes when an account was created and IP address of the Apple server used to open the account.
iCloudLogs.xlsx keeps a note on every time one of your devices downloads data from iCloud, including your photo library, contacts, and Safari browsing history, but doesn’t contain the actual data.
MailLogs.xlsx keeps a record of each time something from your Apple device interacts with your iCloud email account.
Two more files relate to Apple’s flagship end-to-end encrypted messaging apps, FaceTime, and iMessage. Apple can only provide information on all the calls and messages that are routed through its servers.
In a separate folder, another batch of Excel documents contained information mostly about interactions with Apple, like downloads and support requests.
AOS Orders contains an entire history of devices and accessories bought from Apple dating back to the first purchase.
CRM Installed Product is a list of every Apple device ever bought, including highly detailed information — like serial numbers, a note on if a device is unlocked, unique networking MAC addresses for Bluetooth, Ethernet and Wi-Fi connections, and any other identifying information on a device.
CRM AppleCare Case Contact contains basic contact information on the account holder, such as name, address, and phone number.
CRM AppleCare Case Header included every interaction with customer support.
CRM Warranty includes all the information on a device owner’s warranty, what AppleCare coverage they have, if any, and when warranties expire.
DS Signons is a long list of every time you logged in to iTunes and from which specific device.
Game Center predictably contains information on all the gaming sessions a user has played or interacted with.
iForgot keeps a log of every time you visited your Apple ID page on the web, or reset your password.
iTunes Match Uploads retains a record of every song you’ve ever uploaded to iTunes Match service.
iTunes Match Downloads keeps a list of all matched music that’s later downloaded from iTunes Match.
iTunes Downloads contains a user’s entire download history since the account’s creation. It also includes information on which device the item was downloaded and its IP address.
Repair Transaction Details recounts every time you put in a repair request with Apple and includes information on what the issue is, any notes made by Apple staff, and any information that identifies the device, such as a phone’s IMEI number.
Marketing Contact includes the information that Apple uses to contact you for marketing reasons and the reason why.
That’s it which is not so much compared to other companies. What Apple’s collects about your data is a drop in the ocean to what social networks or search giants have on you, because Apple is primarily a hardware maker and not ad-driven, like Facebook and Google, which use your data to pitch you ads.
Keep in mind that every device represents a network entry point or a valuable data bank that must be protected by at least cybersecurity solution like an antivirus. Depending on which OS your device is running, install an antivirus for Windows or antivirus for Mac for total protection. Companies must take an extra step and hire a professional cybersecurity firm that will run various cybersecurity tests on your company’s network to implement only the best possible cybersecurity solution. Always opt for a package that includes at least a penetration test and ethical hacking test. For companies that exist 100% online, we recommend the using of cyber-secured web hosting services.