The Dark Side of Your iPhone - Thousands of Mysterious Connections Discovered!

An iPhone, even when not being used, stays busy by connecting to various servers, including some in Russia. This discovery by Ernestas Naprys of Cybernews came after testing both an Android phone and an iPhone for unwanted connections.

The iPhone used for the test was a factory-reset iPhone SE, on which the top 100 apps from Germany were installed. These apps were opened once and then the phone was left idle for five days.

During this time, the iPhone made 16,542 DNS queries, which means it asked for server addresses thousands of times. Each day, there was a peak in activity at around 3 p.m. GMT, with up to 1865 queries in just one hour.

This was a significant increase compared to an Android phone, which made 2323 queries in one day.

The iPhone mainly connected to Apple's servers, which accounted for almost 60% of its activity. Google services made up 12% of the connections, and Microsoft accounted for 4%. Social media apps like Facebook and TikTok were less active on the iPhone compared to the Android phone. Snapchat, however, was more active on the iPhone, making over 100 queries each day.

One notable aspect of the iPhone’s connections was that it reached out to a server in Russia at least once every day. This was specifically to a server owned by Alibaba. However, it never connected to servers in China during the idle period, even though several Chinese apps were installed.
The data suggests that most of the iPhone's connections were to servers in the US, followed by Sweden, Germany, Ireland, and Poland. The iPhone contacted domains involved in various operations like syncing, updates, and content delivery. Some connections were also made to analytics and advertising services.

The most active apps in terms of battery usage were Snapchat, Gmail, and OneDrive, showing that some apps use more resources than others, even when not actively used by the person.

Cybersecurity experts suggest that the fewer apps installed on a phone, the better. Fewer apps mean fewer chances for data collection and unwanted connections.

They also warned that connections to servers in countries with lax privacy laws could pose risks, as data might be accessed without the user's consent. This scenario underlines the balance users must find between the convenience of apps and the potential risks to their privacy.

iPhone found to make thousands of connections to servers, including in Russia, during idle periods.
Image: DIW-Aigen

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