GMA News Online

App lets iPhone, iPad owners wipe location data

April 23, 2011 1:19pm
Following the surprise discovery that some iPhones and iPads keep track of their owners' whereabouts, an app is now being offered to wipe such data from the devices.

But the application, released by developer Ryan Petrich, will work only on Apple devices running jailbroken versions of iOS 4 and up.

"You will, of course, need to have a jailbroken iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to install it," said an article on Redmond Pie.

The Redmond Pie article also offered links to jailbreak an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch - or altering the OS to allow it to run apps not approved by Apple.

On the other hand, the iPhone Download Blog hailed the new app as an example of "reactive power" from the jailbreak community.

"This utility is another example of the reactive power that the jailbreak community offers. A big thanks to Ryan and the other devs for continuing to give us control over our own (devices)," it said.

Earlier this week, researchers disclosed that Apple mobile devices running iOS 4 and up collect and records owners' location data into a file "consolidated.db."

The file is not encrypted and can be synced to a computer running Apple's iTunes software.

A description of the app on said that it "continuously clean(s) up location's history data in the background" by installing a daemon - a process that can run in the background - to clean the consolidated.db file.

As of 1 p.m. Saturday, there were 9,359 downloads for the app.

A separate article on CNET quoted Petrich as saying the "Untrackerd" app deletes any data more than 30 minutes old from the consolidated.db file, checking every five minutes (except when the phone is in sleep mode) for changes to the file.

It quoted him as saying the most recent data is left intact so the device can still pinpoint the phone's location for purposes like driving directions.

CNET also quoted him as saying that the app does not zero out the deleted data multiple times, as is necessary to thwart forensic analysis.

"I created it because I wasn't 100 percent comfortable with the entire history of my location being stored on a device that is very easy to lose," he told CNET.

The CNET article also said that Petrich updated Untrackerd so that it will securely delete the data it wipes, writing over the disk space with zeros several times so deleted data cannot be forensically uncovered later. - TJD, GMA News
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