Cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs has alerted the public about a worrisome location tracking feature on Apple’s latest iPhone 11 Pro.
He revealed on his website KrebsOnSecurity that even if you turn off your location services on the latest iPhone, the phone intermittently tracks your location and sends the data to Apple anyway.
“Location services allows Apple and third-party apps and websites to gather and use information based on the current location of your iPhone. If Location Services is on, your iPhone will periodically send the geo-tagged locations of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers (where supported by a device) in an anonymous and encrypted form to Apple to be used for augmenting this crowdsourced database of Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower locations.”
However, in the video below, you can see the purple arrows which mean that location services are still being used despite the services being turned off.
“We do not see any actual security implications,” an Apple engineer wrote to Mr Krebs.
“It is expected behaviour that the Location Services icon appears in the status bar when Location Services is enabled. The icon appears for system services that do not have a switch in Settings.”
Mr Krebs tried to replicate the tracking issue on an earlier iPhone 8 but was unable to, which points to a possible issue with the iPhone 11 Pro devices themselves instead of the software.
Apple later disclosed to Krebs that the behaviour is tied to the inclusion of a new short-range technology that lets iPhone 11 users share files locally with other nearby users that support this feature.
Apple also said that a future version of its mobile operating system will allow users to disable it.