Apple Devices and iCloud

Sarah Mays's picture

Policy Type


Apple has recently launched a set of features to incorporate what they have branded as “iCloud” into all of their devices. This enables the storing of data on remote servers in addition, or in lieu of, storing data on your local device or hard drive. This feature is available in Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion), and all mobile devices running iOS 5 (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch).

As exciting as these new technologies are, we must consider the ramifications of these features in a healthcare and health sciences environment, which is subject to many federal and state regulations, including HIPAA. The ability to take data from your machine and store it on iCloud can create potential security breaches that we are all by law responsible to prevent. Restricted, confidential and proprietary information must be confined to an environment that is access controlled and protected. Since UCSF (nor any other organization) has no contractual agreements in place that addresses this liability, it is UCSF’s guidance that no restricted information be stored on the iCloud service.

Some examples of restricted information include, but are not limited to, identifiable patient information data or images, social security numbers, and other restricted data. For more information about security and confidentiality, please visit

We would also like remind you that Non-UCSF or 3rd party email services are not approved for use by faculty, staff, or students for conducting UCSF business. Please make sure to only use your UCSF email account for the transmission of UCSF related work. We would also like to remind you to make sure your iOS device is connected to the UCSF Exchange servers, which is required to enforce UCSF security policy.

Apple makes it very easy to sync data to iCloud and all your Apple devices, and in some cases, you may be unaware this is happening. Notes, Documents, and Photos are some of the riskier items, and to ensure that your device is not syncing them to iCloud without your knowledge, below is information on how to disable your Apple devices from doing so. This extends to Macs, PCs, iPhones, iPads and iPods.


Instructions on a Mac running OS X Lion:


  1. Click the Apple icon in the upper left corner of your screen followed by “System Preferences” from the context menu.
  2. Click “Mail, Contacts & Calendars” from the System Preferences window.
  3. Select “iCloud” from the pane on the left in the Mail, Contacts & Calendars window.
  4. Click the checkbox next to the app you want to enable or disable in the pane on the right.
  5. Disable Documents & Data, Photo Stream and Back to My Mac.

Instructions for Apple mobile devices such as iPhone, iPad and iPod:

  1. Tap the Settings icon.
  2. Tap the iCloud icon.
  3. Disable Notes, Photostream and Documents & Data.