China says iPhone location services raise security concerns


iPhone location services features have recently raised concerns about information security in China, after tests by information security authorities showed user’s locations are stored in hidden directories on the phones.

Engineers with the China Information Technology Security Evaluation Center (CNITSEC) have been focusing on the iPhone feature and how it collects users’ locations, and are concerned about the results they have discovered.

“Firstly, we connect the iPhone to a computer via a USB data link. Then with some special tools, we can view some system directories that normal users cannot see. In the system directories, we found a hidden directory which can record user’s locations at different times,” said Wang Jiajie, an engineer with CNITSEC.

Wang explained that if users open the location services feature on an iPhone, they will see a feature called ‘Frequent Locations’ which records locations they have visited frequently and the exact times of the visits.

However, Ma Ding, director of Network Security Department under the People’s Public Security University of China, explained that even if users choose to disable this feature the phone continues to record their location, which is an information security risk.

“If the ‘Frequent Locations’ feature is turned off, the background data is not affected at all. That’s to say, the user’s location is still recorded. They just cannot see it, but the background data is still there.” said Ma.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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