RESEARCHERS HAVE DISCOVERED that Apple's Iphone tracks and records detailed information about the device's location.
Speaking at the Where 2.0 Conference this week Pete Warden, founder of Data Science Toolkit, and Alasdair Allan, a senior research fellow at the University of Exeter, revealed their findings about the hidden data and what it meant.
Whilst researching mobile data Allan stumbled upon a directory containing longitudes, latitudes and timestamps. Initial thoughts were that the data was just a few days worth of content, maybe from the cache. It turned out, however, that the data was around a years worth of data.
The phone also recorded WiFi data including latitudes and longitudes, which weren't particularly accurate, along with mac addresses with timestamps. The pair hasn't quite figured out when or what triggers the data to be recorded.
The phone was tracking around 100 data points per day and the file had been moved between multiple devices, initially starting on an Iphone 3GS. The start of this tracking seemed to be linked with the update to IOS 4. What's even more worrying is that the data wasn't encrypted.
The pair took this data and mapped it, and they confirmed that it matched up with the movements of the device during a trip to America. They have also created a desktop application so users can create their own maps from the tracking data.
Allan points out that the danger is, "if you lose your phone, then all your movements for the last year is on the phone and can be taken off, and there is no evidence that the data has left the custody of the phone". While you have your phone the pair suggest encrypting your backup in Itunes. µ
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