Wi-Fi Sync Information Has Not Been Visible on iPhones for Years, Raising Privacy Concerns certosoftware.com

Certo, a company which makes smartphone spyware detection software, published to its blog a story about spyware which abuses the Wi-Fi syncing feature to obtain copies of the phone’s data. It is not a well-written article. It starts by arguing that “Apple’s supposedly impenetrable security” is “one of the reasons for [users’] loyalty”, before explaining this is not really a security problem. It is also not new — the vulnerabilities of Wi-Fi syncing have been known since at least 2018.

That information does little to ameliorate these abuses, however. Wi-Fi syncing is a logical vector for being spied upon by a family member or spouse from its very design: it began as an invisible, largely passive way to keep an iPhone in sync with a computer, when it works properly.

But there is something in here which I think is worth drawing attention to:

Historically you could perform a simple check in the Settings app on the phone to see if WiFi Sync was enabled (and therefore if you may be a victim of this type of spyware). It would even display the name of the computer that your iOS device was set up to sync with. However, in iOS 13 and all subsequent updates, Apple has removed this information from the Settings app, making it extremely difficult to tell if it is enabled.

The only way to know if an iPhone has Wi-Fi syncing turned on is by checking in Finder on the trusted Mac, or in iTunes on a Windows PC. If Apple is not retiring this feature, it should be possible to see if an iPhone has Wi-Fi syncing enabled on the phone itself.