Join gaming leaders online at GamesBeat Summit Next this upcoming November 9-10. Learn more about what comes next.
Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices have long been storing positions and timestamps in a hidden file on the user’s computer. That’s according to developers Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden, who plan to report their finding at the Where 2.0 conference today in Santa Clara, Calif.
Allan stumbled on the discovery while looking through iTunes’ backup files on his computer. Author of the book “Learning iPhone Programming” for O’Reilly Media, Allan came across “consolidated.db”, a backup file updated whenever a user syncs their iPhone or iPad with iTunes. Sequenced in a simple database, the file contained thousands of regularly gathered datapoints of the user’s latitude-longitude coordinates and timestamps, which for some phones have dated back to as much as a year.
While Allan and Warden suggest there is no immediate privacy concern from the data, they question why Apple is storing it, and why it is kept unencrypted and relatively accessible. In a a blog post about the finding, they recommended iPhone and iPad users encrypt their backups through Apple’s media management software, iTunes.
The duo have also released “iPhone Tracker”, an application for the Mac that reads the backup file and projects a map visualization of the stored data. Trying out the application, I could see close to every location I’ve been to in the past year — which is particularly alarming.
“Apple has made it possible for almost anybody – a jealous spouse, a private detective – with access to your phone or computer to get detailed information on where you’ve been,” Warden told The Guardian. The company has yet to comment on the discovery.
In the video below, the pair discuss the finding and its implications.
This April 25-26, VentureBeat is hosting its inaugural VentureBeat Mobile Summit, where we’ll debate the five key business and policy challenges facing the mobile industry today. Participants will develop concrete, actionable solutions that will shape the future of the mobile industry. The invitation-only event, located at the scenic and relaxing Cavallo Point Resort in Sausalito, Calif., is limited to 180 mobile executives, investors and policymakers.
VentureBeatVentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative technology and transact. Our site delivers essential information on data technologies and strategies to guide you as you lead your organizations. We invite you to become a member of our community, to access:
- up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you
- our newsletters
- gated thought-leader content and discounted access to our prized events, such as Transform 2021: Learn More
- networking features, and more