Security researchers Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden have found that a secret file on iPhones and 3G iPads that tracks everywhere that the device is taken. This process has only began since the release of iOS 4, and the file tracks your movement using the device’s latitude and longitude location and this data is given a timestamp for that particular time.
Perhaps the most worrying issue is that the file is unencrypted and unprotected, and can easily be accessed on the device itself or on any of the machines that it has been synced to.
The location data is being stored in a file called consolidated.db and this appears on all iPhones. The researchers think that this data is tracked using cell-tower triangulation rather than by GPS.
Currently no one has immediate access to the data but it’s not known why Apple is keeping this data and it raises huge privacy questions about anonymous data tracking.
Of course, this isn’t anything new. Mobile phone companies have always had this worrying privilege, but it’s always been a closed operation, so it couldn’t be accessed by anyone without a court order. Here however, the researchers have already provided a program that will let you take a look at your own location data.
Apple aren’t the only ones guilty of this. Google’s Latitude service for Andorid devices does the same thing, but that data isn’t being tracked anonymously and you can opt out of being tracked, where as here, you seem to have no choice.
Apple’s Security team have yet to comment on the matter.