Research Reveals How iPhone Push Notifications Leak User Data

Security researcher Tommy Mysk has demonstrated that iPhone push notifications are being used by popular apps to covertly send data about the user.

iPhone 12 Security Feature
In a new video outlining the practice, Mysk highlighted how certain iOS apps exploit a feature introduced in iOS 10 that is designed to allow apps to customize push notifications. This feature, initially intended to enable apps to enrich notifications with additional content or decrypt encrypted messages, has seemingly been repurposed by some developers for more secretive activities. According to Mysk's findings, various popular applications, including TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Bing, are using the short background execution time granted for notification customization to send analytics information.

This practice is particularly worrisome because it circumvents the typical restrictions imposed by iOS on background app activities. Apple has always maintained strict control over applications running in the background to protecting user privacy and ensure optimal device performance. However, the push notification feature appears to have unintentionally provided a backdoor for apps to conduct background data transmission.

The type of data being sent includes unique device signals that can be used for fingerprinting and tracking users across different apps. Fingerprinting is a method of collecting specific information about a device, such as its hardware and software configurations, to create a unique identifier for the user. This identifier can then be used to track the user's activities across different applications, which can then be used for various activities such as targeted advertising.

Apple does not permit fingerprinting and will soon require developers to explicitly state why their apps need access to APIs that are often used for fingerprinting. This move is in line with Apple's efforts to strengthen user privacy, such as the introduction of App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14.5, which requires apps to obtain user permission before tracking their activity across other companies' apps and websites.

Top Rated Comments

idmean Avatar
6 weeks ago

TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Bing
Anyone who values their privacy shouldn't install any of these ever anyhow.
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
trainwrecka Avatar
6 weeks ago
Imagine if this was your job at these companies. Employee, I need you to figure out a way to do something the company and the user does not want.

Everyday... your goal is to deceive. Sad life.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Timo_Existencia Avatar
6 weeks ago
...but hey! Forcing Apple to open up to sideloading and 3rd Party App stores will have zero effect. Right?
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
G5isAlive Avatar
6 weeks ago
It’s always a cat and mouse game with the same bad actors.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Apple Knowledge Navigator Avatar
6 weeks ago
Zuck would sell his own family if it meant getting a little more data.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Wizard_of_Woz Avatar
6 weeks ago
One of the best decisions I've ever made was deleting the few (anti) social media accounts I had a few years ago. This article highlights reason 4,357,288 to leave social media. To each their own, but social media IMO is nothing but toxic, time wasting garbage. To be fair though, it wasn't as bad when it first started. If I want to see friends or family, I will either drive/fly to see them, they come to see me, or if they are low on funds I will fly them to see me. If I want to talk to someone, I call them. If someone prefers text messages over phone calls, I text them.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 17

10 New Things Your iPhone Can Do in Next Week's iOS 17.4 Update

Friday March 1, 2024 1:30 am PST by
Apple will this month release iOS 17.4, its biggest iPhone software update of the year so far, featuring a number of features and changes that users have been anticipating for quite a while. Below, we've listed 10 new things that your iPhone will be able to do after you've installed the update, which is projected to arrive by March 7. When the day arrives, be sure to check Settings ➝...
Apple Maps vs Google Maps Feature

Apple Maps vs. Google Maps: Which Is Better?

Friday March 1, 2024 7:10 am PST by
Apple Maps has been providing navigational guidance to Apple users for almost 13 and a half years now, and much has changed about the app in that time. However, according to data from Canalys, the overwhelming majority of iPhones in the U.S. still have Google Maps downloaded as an alternative to Apple Maps, which comes preinstalled on all iPhones. We want to hear from MacRumors readers. Which do...
apple tv plus banner

Apple TV+ Gains Over 50 Movies for a Limited Time

Friday March 1, 2024 6:29 am PST by
Apple TV+ today gained over 50 movies, adding to its back catalog of content for a limited time. The collection includes a large number of popular and classic titles. Subscribers can access the movies in a "Great Movies on Apple TV+" section in the Apple TV app. Some titles are also available in 3D. Movies in the collection include: 21 Jump Street 300 American Sniper Argo ...
Apple Logo Spotlight

Source: Apple to Announce New Products This Week

Sunday March 3, 2024 11:38 am PST by
Apple plans to announce new products with press releases on its website this week, a proven source familiar with the matter told MacRumors. While the products that Apple plans to announce have not been disclosed, there are rumors about new iPads, Macs, and accessories. It is unclear exactly what will be announced this week. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman today reiterated that Apple is planning new...
iPad Air 12

Gurman: No Apple Event Planned for Upcoming iPads and Macs

Sunday March 3, 2024 5:09 am PST by
Apple does not plan to hold a traditional event to unveil new iPads and Macs, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Instead, he said Apple plans to announce the products on its website with a "series of online videos and marketing campaigns." If this plan is accurate, we can expect the new products to be announced with press releases on the Apple Newsroom website. Gurman expects Apple to...
airpods pro 2 pink

Apple Releases New Beta Firmware for AirPods Pro 2

Thursday February 29, 2024 11:41 am PST by
Apple today introduced a new beta firmware update for the AirPods Pro 2, both the USB-C and Lightning versions. The new firmware is version 6E188, up from the prior 6B34 firmware released in December. Apple does not often provide details or notes on what features might be included in the refreshed firmware, so it is unclear what's new. Note that this software is limited to developers at the...