Researchers Disclose iPhone and iPad Location-Tracking Privacy Issues
A pair of security researchers today announced that they are sounding the privacy warning bell about the capability of iOS 4 to track the location of an iPhone or iPad on an ongoing basis, storing the data to a hidden file known as "consolidated.db" in the form of latitude and longitude and a timestamp for each point.
All iPhones appear to log your location to a file called "consolidated.db." This contains latitude-longitude coordinates along with a timestamp. The coordinates aren't always exact, but they are pretty detailed. There can be tens of thousands of data points in this file, and it appears the collection started with iOS 4, so there's typically around a year's worth of information at this point. Our best guess is that the location is determined by cell-tower triangulation, and the timing of the recording is erratic, with a widely varying frequency of updates that may be triggered by traveling between cells or activity on the phone itself.
While the consolidated.db file has been known for some time and has played a key role in forensic investigations of iOS devices by law enforcement agencies, the researchers note the data is available on the devices themselves and in backups in unencrypted and unprotected form, leading to significant privacy concerns. Once gathered, the data is saved in backups, restored to devices if necessary, and even migrated across devices, offering a lengthy history of a user's movement.
Data points pulled from iPhone backup
The researchers, Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden, have also put together a downloadable application
that allows users to view the location data stored in backup files on their computers. Allan and Warden have reached out to Apple for comment but have yet to receive a response, and in the meantime recommend that users encrypt their iPhone and iPad backups for increased security.
As previously rumored, the next-generation iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max will feature a unified volume button and a mute button, according to leaked CAD images shared in a video on the Chinese version of TikTok and posted to Twitter by ShrimpApplePro.
Instead of separate buttons for volume up and volume down, the iPhone 15 Pro models are expected to have a single elongated button for...
Apple says iOS 16.4 is coming in the spring, which began this week. In his Sunday newsletter, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman said the update should be released "in the next three weeks or so," meaning a public release is likely in late March or early April.
iOS 16.4 remains in beta testing and introduces a handful of new features and changes for the iPhone. Below, we have recapped five new features ...
The iOS 16.4 update that is set to be released to the public in the near future includes voice isolation for cellular calls, according to notes that Apple shared today.
Apple says that Voice Isolation will prioritize your voice and block out the ambient noise around you, making for clearer phone calls where you can better hear the person you're chatting with and vice versa.
A first-generation iPhone still sealed inside its box sold for $54,904 at auction, which is more than $54,000 over the original $599 price tag of the device when it was released in 2007.
The original iPhone was put up for sale by RR Auction on behalf of a former Apple employee who purchased it back when it first came out. Back in February, an original, sealed iPhone sold for over $63,000,...
The iOS 16.4 release candidate version that was provided to developers today appears to hint at a new set of AirPods that could be coming in the near future. According to @aaronp613, the beta features references to AirPods that have a model number of A3048 and an AirPods case with a model number of A2968.
There have been no rumors that new AirPods are on the horizon, and it is early for...
Apple today seeded the release candidate versions of upcoming iOS 16.4 and iPadOS 16.4 updates to developers for testing purposes, with the software coming a week after the launch of the fourth betas. The RCs mark the final version of the software that will be provided to the public in the near future. Registered developers are able to download the iOS 16.4 and iPadOS 16.4 updates...
Google today began allowing users to sign up to use Bard, its AI-powered chatbot that rivals Microsoft's Bing chatbot. First announced back in February, Bard is an experimental conversational AI service for Google Search.
Those interested in Bard can join Google's waitlist to get access, and some users have reported getting invitation emails just hours after signing up. There are a long list ...
Samsung today kicked off a special "Discover Samsung" event, which will be a week-long savings event focusing on Samsung monitors, smartphones, TVs, appliances, and more. While some deals will stick around the entire week (through March 26), others will refresh every day.
Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Samsung. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small...
Top Rated Comments
The idea of a person truly having privacy is almost a joke. This little bit that we have left I feel is more of an illusion than something we actually have. People seem to be more than willing to track their entire lives on the internet without even being asked to do so. If you want some privacy the closest you are going to get is moving out into the country without a phone, gas, or electricity and live off what you can grow or hunt. Otherwise you are already tracked beyond what anyone that thinks about it should probably be comfortable with. This will not change what you will do in the next little bit though. I am quite sure you are still going to at least continue to use your debit card.
With respect to all the "view with alarm" postings that will follow, this really doesn't mean anything. I leave my home at the same time every morning. The transponder in my car records my passage and debits my account with the state highway department. Traffic cameras record my license plate at several points during my journey. Once out of the car, my smiling phiz can be seen on any number of CCTVs en route to my office, whose door I open with a card that automatically records my entry. The IP address of this posting will reveal that I am sitting in my living room as I write. Even without the GPS turned on, my phone regularly initiates a conversation with the local cell tower. I can be found with almost pinpoint accuracy.
So I'm not exactly going to panic to learn that my computer and phone keep a record of my latitude and longitude that they don't share with anyone else.
The government already knows where I live, where I work, where I bank, and all kinds of other interesting information. It's how they collect their taxes and send me my mail.
If there were the slightest indication that liberals, atheists, and other enemies of the state were being tracked by their GPSes and rounded up, I'd be the first to the barricades. But there isn't. Our privacy is not based on "nobody knows", it's based on "nobody cares."
Well now we know you're not an attorney, or at least a good one.
I also want it to be disabled if I ask it to.
After all the press this is generating, I'm sure Apple will tone done the logging/lifetime to acceptable parameters and then we'll be able to all Move Along and be happy with our shiny toys once again.