Apple and the Latest Security Scare: Location Tracking Stored on iPhones

Here is the issue in a nutshell:

  • Apple iPhones store your GPS data.
  • The data is on the phone as well as on your PC when you backup your phone to your PC.
  • The data is stored in an unencrypted format.
  • Yes, if your phone is stolen and does not have an appropriate password or protection of some kind, people can see your information through applications that shipped in the last few days.

See these links for more information:

http://www.businessinsider.com/apples-iphone-tracking-logs-a-glitch-2011-4?op=1

http://ihnatko.com/2011/04/20/hey-wonderful-theres-a-location-tracking-file-on-my-iphone/

http://daringfireball.net/linked/2011/04/21/andy-ihnatko-location-log

I want to scream out loud, “BIG WHOOP!”

Did you know that your GPS device in your car does the same thing? Did you know that other smart phones also store your location information in other ways? What is the issue here?

The issue, as near as I can tell, is that the data is stored in an unencrypted format. This is true, but it really doesn’t matter very much whether it is encrypted or not if it is in your possession. Did you know that your credit card numbers are stored in an unencrypted format in your pocket? Did you know that all of your credit card information, including your special three digit security code AND your signature are also stored unencrypted in your pocket? I am also willing to bet that if you have a USB flash drive in your pocket, all of its data is probably unencrypted as well.

The key to keeping data safe is keeping it under your control. Of course, if you wanted to, you could configure iTunes to backup everything in an encrypted format and that will take care of the problem/issue. However, it is important to understand that there are several rules when it comes to security, and one of them is that if others have direct physical access to your data, they can own it one way or another. So, don’t let them have it.

Others DO NOT have access to this data unless you jail broke your phone and didn’t reset the remote access password, or they have your phone or PC in their physical possession. I also question the worth of this data, anyways. So what if you know that I was in Fresno three months ago? What value does that have?

I, personally, am not an Apple fan even though I do use an iPhone at this moment in time. However, despite being a Microsoftie at heart, I am not willing to jump on the “bash Apple” bandwagon for this issue.

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