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apple iphone
cell phone providers
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latitude and longitude
iphone
party applications
relevant data
guess
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Ipad Tracking User Location?
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Who is Stalking me? Late last year, word began leaking out that many third-party applications available at the i-Tunes store were recording forensically relevant data. Some of this included information about user accounts, timestamps, geographic locations and contact information. In theory this information could be easily accessed by police and other individuals with the wherewithal to do so.

It didn’t help matters when earlier last week, 2 researchers Alasdair Allen and Pete Warden discovered that the Apple iPhone and 3G iPAD devices themselves kept a record of locations that the user had visited. The researchers found that since last June, the iPhone and iPad 3G have been updating a file called consolidated.db that uses smartphone data to keep a log of latitude and longitude coordinates.This file also keeps a record of the time when these geographical data is collected. Thus they can in theory tell where you have been and when you were there. This information does not come from the device GPS, but from neighboring cellphone tower triangulation.

Why is Apple Gathering this information? No one really knows. One guess is that they are developing new features that require access to this data.However,that is just a guess. The fact that this information is transferred across devices when you restore or migrate data is proof enough that the info-gathering isn't accidental.

Why is this a big deal? The main issue is that Apple are collecting this information without the knowledge of the device owner. Cell-phone providers such as Verizon collect similar data as part of their operations, but it’s kept behind their firewall and normally requires a court order to gain access to it. The data being gathered by Apple is available to anyone who can get their hands on your phone or computer. Recording your location without permission, has made it possible for anyone who so desires to get a detailed picture of your movements.

What does Apple have to say about this? Apple response has been to issue software updates that would fix this problem. The company denies it is intentionally tracking the location of iOS devices, but claims it is keeping a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around the user to "rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested." They argue that these data collection significantly improves the speed of the device GPS service. Count me as one of the skeptical customers.

Keeping things in Perspective One only has to think how much it must suck to be one of the people whose credit card data was stolen by the hacker who penetrated Sony Playstation's video game service. While there lies the potential for sensitive information on iOS devices to be grossly misused, to date nothing serious has been reported and the hope is that the upcoming updates will indeed work as well as hoped. Time will tell.


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