October 31, 2014

Your iPhone is Watching You! New Proof-of-Concept App Shows How Your iPhone is Tracking Your Every Movement

Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden have released a new proof-of-concept application for Mac OS X that demonstrates that your iPhone is tracking your movements and recording the information. We have tested the application and it is 100% true, Apple are watching you!

Since the release of iOS 4.0 the iPhone has started storing cell-phone tower information and this information is copied to your Mac or PC when you sync your phone with iTunes. The application that Alasdair and Pete have released searches through your old sync data on your Mac and finds this cell-phone tower information and then displays it on a map, courtesy of OpenStreetMap.

How bad is this?

  • Other applications on your Mac can access this data.
  • Apple shouldn’t be collecting this information. Mobile phone operators collect tower information as part of their operations but it is private and it normally requires a court order to gain access to it. Your iPhone tower information is available to anyone who can get their hands on your phone or computer.
  • By passively logging your location without your permission, Apple have made it possible for anyone from a jealous spouse to a private investigator to get a detailed picture of your movements.
  • If you sell or exchange your iPhone the tower data might still be on the phone. My iPhone is second-hand and I have discovered that I now have a map of the movements of its previous owner going back to October 2010.

Was it right for Allan and Warden to release this app? They mention this on their site:

We did hesitate over the right thing to do in this case, but when it became clear that “Individuals familiar with iPhone forensic analysis will be quite familiar” with it, as Ryan Neal puts it and that at least one other person had tried to alert the public but apparently failed to make it clear what was going on, a demonstration application seemed the lesser evil.

Note: The application available from the iPhone Tracker site is for 64-bit Macs. If you have an early Intel Mac it is 32-bit only. I have built a 32-bit version here.

Are you worried about this? Please leave a comment below.

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