Apple monitors the habits and locations visited by users of 3G iPads and any iPhone that uses iOS 4 or one of the newer versions of the operating system. A security survey conducted by reputable researchers, has revealed that each Apple device listed above maintains a database in which all the locations visited by a user are registered, as well as the date and exact time they were visited. This archive is transferred to the user’s PC or Mac every time the device is in sync with the Apple product.
With the new iPhone 5 on its way, researchers have discovered that the data stored in this archive are not secured by an encryption algorithm, which means that anyone can get this file to create a detailed history of all sites visited by the owner of the device in question. Most visited locations can be used to establish a pattern of preferred destinations, depending on days and times when we used to frequent them. To prove the allegations made, the researchers have created a special software application, which illustrates the abundance of information collected and how that can be used by authorities, jealous husbands or anyone else interested to spy on someone.
The file in question is called consolidated.db and contains information such as latitude and longitude coordinates, organized by date and time. It is unclear who has promoted this system of spying on users, but it certainly took care to collect information from any source possible. Thus, when information can’t be provided by the GPS, 3G Apple device calculates location by a process of triangulation, thereby ensuring spying on users at any time of day, even when they are inside buildings. The database also contains a list of hotspots where the iPhone or iPad has been connected.
The only solution that users have is to select the “Encrypt Backup iPhone” when they sync their phones via iTunes.
So far, Apple has not taken an official position concerning this scandal, in which the company is accused of spying on users. The fact is that this system integrated into Apple devices is a real treasure for any government, organization or corporation interested in obtaining information about a particular person and its habits. What’s next? Are we going to be monitored every time we access games, like Angry Birds, from our iPhones?