iPhone Secretly Tracks: A Security Glitch Uncovered

neha May-04-2011 Comments: 0
iPhone Secretly Tracks

Last week of April, an unexpected discovery broke out causing privacy concerns to iPhone users around the globe. Security researchers from Great Britain found a hidden file in the iOS 4 that was continuously recording the iPhone user’s current location. This location tracking feature, which had also been a controversial issue for Google’s Android smartphones, was found to track the whereabouts of the iPhone user, and this information was sent to a hidden file in the Apple's system. While Google Android’s location tracking feature allows the users to select whether to utilize it or not, iPhone’s tracking file was undisclosed to the public. In fact, the iPad is also loaded by Apple's secret location tracking feature. And the discovery gains various reactions from the public, including an outrage which made some owners of Apple products file a lawsuit against the company. The demand for explanations continues to grow as people wait for Apple Company to break its silence. Apple Keeps Quiet on its Secret iPhone Location Tracking On April 27th, Steve Jobs from Apple denied that the iPhone tracks its users. The company claimed that the iPhone location tracking feature does not track the moves of the users instead it records the Wi-Fi spots and cellphone towers in the area and secures the coordinates to the iPhone. Apple’s leads to a partial implication that this issue was perhaps based on a misunderstanding. According to Apple, the unencrypted file called “consolidated.db” was a result of a software error. “This is a bug, which we plan to fix shortly”, Apple further stated. The said glitch in the system was explained to be the reason for a year’s worth of stored data. To address this problem, Apple stated its plans to release a software update that will cease backing up the cache and on the next major release of iOS software, make the cache encrypted on the iPhone. The company also provided an online Q&A service to address inquiries regarding location tracking. However, the explanations made by the Apple weren’t able to extinguish the remaining doubts among consumers. According to experts, the more significant problem is that the tracking information is made available to everyone. The data collected is not protected by a firewall, as is the case for the other service providers. This accessibility and freely available location information of iPhone users makes them vulnerable since a simple “jailbreak” could give other people a direct access to the files iPhone contains. US researchers, Allan and Warden have created an application that enables users to see the location data from their iPhone. In fact, the app allows the users to visualize the information their iPhone is actuallty recording. Since the new software that Apple promised its users is still unavailable, it is suggested that owners of Apple products should encrypt their backups by clicking on iTunes and then selecting “EncryptiPhoneBackup” under the “Options” area. Well, clearly the issues has popped a number of concerns against security and privacy of iPhone users. With the onslaught of new technologies and the evolving capabilities of the internet, the public became the regular victim of security threats, scams and the likes. Users need to be vigilant and protect themselves from such security attacks. Fortunately, the iPhone’s iOS allows configuration in order to use Virtual Private Network (VPN), which provides private information security over a public network. But as security continues to strengthen, the threats also increase in severity. Apple’s hidden tracking system became one of these threats. Perhaps, this event spurred the idea that the responsibility to ensure protection and security lies on the users, themselves. At the moment, the need for information-dissemination on how to address these problems continues to escalate.

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