Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden, a pair of security researchers, yesterday announced their discovery that the iPhone and 3G iPad are continuously storing a history of your location, along with a timestamp, in a file on the device. What makes this issue worse is that the file is unencrypted (unprotected) and it will backup to any machine you’ve synched with your iOS device. In addition, it can be easily accessed on the device itself –essentially anyone who has access to your device can easily download the information, with only minimal technical skill required, and it will give up detailed information as to where you’ve been over the last year, since iOS 4 was released. Cell phone companies have always had this data, but it typically takes a court order to access it. Now this information is available in plain view, unprotected from the world. It is unclear why Apple is gathering this data, but Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden speculate it’s intentional, as the database is being restored across backups, and even device migrations.
How can you look at your own data?
Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden have built an application that helps you look at your own data. It’s available at petewarden.github.com/iPhoneTracker along with the source code and deeper technical information.
You can also watch a video discussion on the subject here: http://youtu.be/GynEFV4hsA0