∞ iPhone data collection explained

Researchers on Wednesday discovered a file on Apple’s iPhone and iPad that contained location information of its user. However, the file is not new and the discovery of the file was written about months ago.

[ad#Google Adsense 300×250 in story]Alex Levinson, the Lead Engineer for Katana Forensics, actually wrote about the file in a book by Sean Morrissey called “iOS Forensic Analysis.” Levinson refutes all claims that Apple is gathering this data.

“Apple is not harvesting this data from your device,” wrote Levinson. “This is data on the device that you as the customer purchased and unless they can show concrete evidence supporting this claim – network traffic analysis of connections to Apple servers — I rebut this claim in full. Through my research in this field and all traffic analysis I have performed, not once have I seen this data traverse a network.”

So the big question is why is the data there in the first place? According to Levinson, it’s used by the apps on your iPhone and iPad. Apps like Maps, Camera and even Twitter uses location services.

Levinson said the file has been on the iPhone as long as location services has been available. In iOS 4 it just changed location.

“I understand that Mr. Allan and Mr. Warden are valued researchers for O’Reilly, but they have completely missed the boat on this one,” said Levinson. “In the spirit of academia, due diligence is a must to determine who else has done such research. Mr. Allan, Mr. Warden, and O’Reilly have overlooked and failed to cite an entire area of research that has already been done on this subject and claimed full authorship of it.”

Based on Levinson’s forensic research, it would appear that the file is not secret, was known about for some time and was previously researched.

“While forensics isn’t in the forefront of technology headlines these days, that doesn’t mean critical research isn’t being done surrounding areas such as mobile devices,” said Levinson. “I have no problem with what Mr. Warden and Mr. Allan have created or presented on, but I do take issue with them making erroneous claims and not citing previously published work. I’m all for creative development and research, as long as it’s honest.”