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Apple is watching you and it won
Posted: 21 April 2011 11:17 AM   [ Ignore ]
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This is a map of everywhere I’ve been for the last months. Everywhere. I didn’t carry around a tracking device. The FBI isn’t sending goons in unmarked vans to track me. All I did was use an iPhone. And if you have an iPhone, you’re being tracked right now, too.

It turns out that your iPhone is keeping a record of everywhere you’ve been since June. This data is stored on your phone (or iPad) and computer, easily available to anyone who gets their hands on it. Why? Apple won’t say. We’re creeped out.

The enormous privacy startle, apparently enabled by this summer’s iOS 4 release, was discovered by two security researchers, one of whom claims he was an Apple employee for five years. They’re equally puzzled and disturbed by the location collection: “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,” they explain. All it would take to crack the information out of your iOS device is an easy jailbreak. On your computer, the information can be opened as easily as JPEG using the mapping software that the security experts have made for download—Try it yourself.

The data itself is jarringly accurate. Even though it appears to rely on tower triangulation rather than GPS pinpointing (meaning you’re not safe with location services switched off), the map I was able to generate with mapping software the security duo released visualizes my life since the day I bought my iPhone 4 in July. Everywhere I’ve been. Bus trips home. Train trips to visit family. Vacations. Places I’d forgotten I’d even gone. Zoom in on that giant blotch over New York, and you can see my travels, block by block. My entire personal and professional life—documented by a phone I didn’t know was also a tracking device. It’s all accessible—where I’ve been, and when. I don’t want this information bouncing around in my pocket with me.

For now, there is no fix. The only way to remove it from your computer is to wipe your back up files from your computer. But then you have no back ups to restore your phone in case you lose it. And every time you sync your computer, though, it’ll create a new file. And if you do lose your phone, all your tracking data goes with it, right into the hands of whoever found it. And if you upgrade your phone to the next iPhone, the location tracking data goes with it.

Until Apple stops doing this, or explains why they are doing it, I don’t feel safe. I feel weird having all this data that I don’t want recorded on my iPhone. Maybe they’re doing it for the government. Maybe they’re doing it because they’re forced to. Either way, all we have at this point are conspiracy theories. And a lot of information on our phones about where we’ve been, whether or not we want it. [Peter Warden via The Guardian]

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Posted: 21 April 2011 08:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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That’s not creepy and stalkerish at all! rolleyes

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Posted: 21 April 2011 09:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The next question is, how many ways can this information be gotten to remotely?

Why would you connect your iPhone to your computer, by the way?

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Posted: 21 April 2011 09:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Accipiter - 22 April 2011 01:16 AM

The next question is, how many ways can this information be gotten to remotely?

Why would you connect your iPhone to your computer, by the way?

To sync it to your iTunes so you can have your music, pictures and videos on your phone. It also syncs your iPhone to iTunes for back-up. Back-up the items on your phone like pictures you take with it and the apps you have downloaded. With the apps it has the added bonus of allowing them to be transferred if you get a new iPhone.

As for remote access, I’m not sure cell phones are vulnerable to that. But any computer connected to the Internet sure is. And since syncing the phone to a computer puts this file on there, and especially since the file isn’t encrypted, it could be quite vulnerable.

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Posted: 21 April 2011 09:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Yay…yet another reason for me to shun Apple.

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Posted: 21 April 2011 10:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Smerk - 22 April 2011 01:35 AM

Yay…yet another reason for me to shun Apple.

As I read this in my MacBook Pro while I have my second iPhone next to me as well as having 2 iPod Nanos in my room. Did I mention how virus free my computing experience is?

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Posted: 22 April 2011 12:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Why do you need viruses when Apple provides the experience for you?

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Posted: 22 April 2011 01:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Charybdis - 22 April 2011 04:43 AM

Why do you need viruses when Apple provides the experience for you?

Oh look. A Windows user.

Back on topic. Read this.

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Posted: 22 April 2011 02:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I have a Droid phone. I have an iPad, though it only has wireless so, as far as I understand, is not affected by this tracking. Just putting this out there for fair disclosure.

That said, I really have no problem with this. Yep, it tracks you. Yep, it keeps an unencrypted file on your phone and copies that to your computer if you hook it up. Guess what?  Smart phones have been tracking you since their inception. In fact, all cell phones have been tracking you for years. And if you want to encrypt that file it’s real easy to do. (Though it would have been nice for Apple to have it auto-encrypted.)

Granted, the Apple version here is done a different way. Previously (currently on other phones) it was by GPS and was easily turned off if you wanted. This is done by cell towers.

So? It’s still tracking. And it’s pretty standard that a lot of apps use that location tracking capability of the phone - whether it’s an Apple phone, a Google phone or a windows phone - in their basic function. Use the Map function on a smart phone? Wonder how it opens the map and can show you where you are, right then when you open it? Hello!

So, yeah. Don’t really care. Think a stink it being raised over a revelation that isn’t really all that much of a revelation.

But I do find one thing really interesting (and saying this may open the can of worms even more, but I don’t intend it as an Apple vs. Windows argument, so don’t go there):

If this had been announced that it was found on a Google/Droid phone the stink raised and screams from the Apple people would have been 100 times worse than anything coming out against Apple. I have no doubt.

And if it had been shown on a Windows smart phone? Wow. Don’t even want to imagine that.

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Posted: 22 April 2011 03:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Peter - 22 April 2011 02:24 AM
Smerk - 22 April 2011 01:35 AM

Yay…yet another reason for me to shun Apple.

As I read this in my MacBook Pro while I have my second iPhone next to me as well as having 2 iPod Nanos in my room. Did I mention how virus free my computing experience is?

Oddly enough, I’ve never had a virus on my Windows based computer, Nokia mobile phone, or my Sony Walkman…so, what’s your point?

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Posted: 22 April 2011 03:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Smerk - 22 April 2011 07:09 AM
Peter - 22 April 2011 02:24 AM
Smerk - 22 April 2011 01:35 AM

Yay…yet another reason for me to shun Apple.

As I read this in my MacBook Pro while I have my second iPhone next to me as well as having 2 iPod Nanos in my room. Did I mention how virus free my computing experience is?

Oddly enough, I’ve never had a virus on my Windows based computer, Nokia mobile phone, or my Sony Walkman…so, what’s your point?

I could point out the unnecessary-ness of making such a comment about Apple. I could also point out that Mac OSX has a different kind of permission system to a default install of Windows that makes anti-virus software less necessary to use compared to Windows.

I could go on but that’s enough.

Anyway. Let’s kiss and make up. How much do you think your Sony Walkman is worth? It must be a collectors item.

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Posted: 22 April 2011 03:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Well, it’s a discontinued model, but it’s not that old.  And I’ve been using it longer than the iPod I had before it.  I put up with that for barely a year before I got the Sony.

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