Washington - A pair of British security researchers said on Wednesday that
the latest version of Apple's operating system for the iPhone and the iPad is
constantly recording the location of the devices and storing the information in
a hidden file.
Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden said the position-logging feature is contained
in iOS 4, the operating system for the Apple devices which was released in June
"Ever since iOS 4 arrived, your device has been storing a long list of
locations and time stamps," they said in an article posted at the website
"We're not sure why Apple is gathering this data, but it's clearly
intentional," the researchers said, adding that it raises a number of "security
and privacy implications".
"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 said.
"What makes this issue worse is that the file is unencrypted and unprotected,
and it's on any machine you've synched with your iOS device," they said. "It can
also be easily accessed on the device itself if it falls into the wrong
"Anybody with access to this file knows where you've been over the last year,
since iOS 4 was released," they said.
Allan and Warden announced their findings at the Where 2.0 conference in San
Francisco. They were first reported in The Guardian newspaper.
Allan and Warden said they had contacted Apple's product security team about
their findings but had not heard back.
They said the device stores latitude and longitude co-ordinates along with a
time stamp, probably through cell-tower triangulation,
They noted that cellphone companies typically have access to this data but it
is not usually stored on a mobile device itself.