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.

Popular Stories

Apple WWDC24 Apple Intelligence hero 240610

Apple Explains iPhone 15 Pro Requirement for Apple Intelligence

Wednesday June 19, 2024 4:48 am PDT by
With iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia, Apple is introducing a new personalized AI experience called Apple Intelligence that uses on-device, generative large-language models to enhance the user experience across iPhone, iPad, and Mac. These new AI features require Apple's latest iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models to work, while only Macs and iPads with M1 or later chips will...
Apple Vision Pro 2 Feature 2

Apple Reportedly Suspends Work on Vision Pro 2

Tuesday June 18, 2024 8:17 am PDT by
Apple has suspended work on the second-generation Vision Pro headset to singularly focus on a cheaper model, The Information reports. Apple was widely believed to have plans to divide its Vision product line into two models, with one "Pro" model and one lower-cost standard model. The company is said to have been deprioritizing the next Vision Pro headset over the past year, gradually...
M4 Real Feature Red

M4 MacBook Pro Models Expected to Launch in Late 2024

Tuesday June 18, 2024 10:50 am PDT by
MacBook Pro models with an M4 chip are expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2024, according to display analyst Ross Young. In a tweet for subscribers, Young said that panel shipments for new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models are set to begin in the third quarter of 2024, which suggests a launch toward the end of the year. Apple started its M4 chip refresh in May with the launch...
iPhone 16 Pro Max Generic Feature 2

5 Biggest Changes Rumored for iPhone 16 Pro Max

Wednesday June 19, 2024 5:00 am PDT by
Given Apple's rumored plan to add an all-new high-end tier to its iPhone 17 series in 2025, this could be the year for Apple to bring its boldest "Pro Max" model to the table — the kind of iPhone 16 upgrade that stands tall above its siblings, both figuratively and literally. If you have been holding out for the iPhone 16 Pro Max, here are five of the biggest changes rumored to be coming...
Apple Intelligence General Feature

Apple Intelligence Features Not Coming to European Union at Launch Due to DMA

Friday June 21, 2024 9:44 am PDT by
Apple today said that European customers will not get access to the Apple Intelligence, iPhone Mirroring, and SharePlay Screen Sharing features that are coming to the iPhone, iPad, and Mac this September due to regulatory issues related to the Digital Markets Act. In a statement to Financial Times, Apple said that there will be a delay as it works to figure out how to make the new...
2022 back to school apple feature

Apple's 2024 Back to School Sale Launching This Week

Monday June 17, 2024 12:27 pm PDT by
Apple will launch its annual Back to School promotion for university students in the United States and Canada this week, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Apple's back to school sales provide students with a free Apple gift card when purchasing a Mac or an iPad, and this year's promotion could help Apple push the new M2 iPad Air and M4 iPad Pro models. Last year, Apple offered U.S....

Top Rated Comments

idmean Avatar
21 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
21 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
21 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
21 weeks ago
It’s always a cat and mouse game with the same bad actors.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Apple Knowledge Navigator Avatar
21 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
21 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: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)