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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Apple Is Tracking Your iPhone

Evil Apple
Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden  announced at the Where 2.0 conference today that they’ve discovered Apple’s iPhone and 3G iPad are recording the details your position regularly and dumping the file into an unencrypted folder on your device and whatever machine you sync it to.
The software is hidden inside the phone and up until now has remained pretty much a secret to everyone except Apple’s programmers.  The two said that they found the software after looking for a way to visualize contact data in a different way, apparently they couldn’t get access to users contact data which they needed in order to create the software they were envisioning. That led to Allan going into his Mac’s backups to find the information they needed which in turn led to him finding a SQLite file that had latitude, longitude, timestamp and cell id information.
Allen and Warden expected to see maybe a couple of days worth of information he could combine with voicemails or other simple things to show something interesting on a map.  What they got was a all their location information since they upgraded to iOs 4. What that means is that Apple has been tracking all iOs 4 users data since it released about a year ago, across all your devices since the software tracks you on an account level.
According to the two there is no immediate cause for any concern since the data is stored on your device and the machine you sync it to.  Since the data is unencrypted that leaves it open to any software that knows where to look and can read an SQLite database. So maybe a little concern wouldn’t hurt. The pair do recommend that you should encrypt your backups since that is where the data is being stored.
This is kind of a strange  thing for Apple to do, most phone service providers store the same information, but they store it on servers behind massive security that law enforcement needs a subpoena to access. Storing the information in the manner Apple has chosen means that not only law enforcement, but anyone with access to your device can access without the need for any court orders. That means criminals who steal your devices, girlfriends, ex –wives… you get the idea.
I’m going to put my conspiracy hat on for a sec and say maybe Apple is in cahoots with law enforcement to some degree. That might be why their devices don’t allow you to remove the battery without tools and a little effort, and why their tracking users all over the place in a scarily precise manner. Why would they hide this from users if there wasn’t some shyster reason for doing it? Why wouldn’t they just allow people access to it without having to go digging through their file system? and why isn’t this data being encrypted from access to software from the get? Kind of weird if you ask me.
Anyway check the source link for a video of Allen and Warden discussing the software they created and links to download it yourself.

UPDATE: Apple Insider posted an article that explains the tracking might be due to a bug. You can read it here.

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