Why iOS is tracking you and how to stop it
You’ve probably heard by now about the detailed log your iOS device keeps of your movements. Well, now there’s a tool to prevent that plus some more clarity on the issue, which as it turns out is neither new nor unique.
iOS has offered location services from the start - you know, pinpointing your location using Cell-ID and Wi-Fi hotspots. Early devices used Google and Skyhook databases to do that, but since iOS 3.2 Apple has been building up their own database - which is why Apple needs to collect such statistics. Data is annonimized and sent over an encrypted channel.
The real issue is that a file kept unencrypted on your iGadgets holds a record of all your movements from about an year ago and that file is copied to any computer you’ve synced it to and any backups you might have made.
Anyone getting access to the file (called consolidated.db), either by hacking a device that contains a copy of the file or simply stealing the device itself, can easily extract a log of your whereabouts over the last year.
It turns out though that the location logging activities of iGadgets (iPhones and 3G iPads) were discovered as early as last year and weren’t really a secret, just without any prominent warnings (it’s in the Terms and Conditions though, which most users have probably never read). Also, older versions of iOS (prior to v4) kept a similar log though in another location.
You can read a post by Alex Levinson (one of the people who originally uncovered the issue) for more info on the how and why iOS does what it does.
For those who immediately put their tinfoil hats on, there’s an app to delete the log and prevent iOS from keeping one. It’s an app called [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], which can be installed on jailbroken iGadget from the Cydia software repository or you can get it [Only registered and activated users can see links. ].
Respect can give you power, but power does not give you respect.