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Wireless Networking Security Apple

Tool Reveals iPad and iPhone User Locations 36

Posted by timothy
from the cat's-away-mice-will-play dept.
mask.of.sanity writes "A researcher has found that Apple user locations can be potentially determined by tapping into Apple Maps and he has created a Python tool to make the process easier. iSniff GPS accesses Apple's database of wireless access points, which is collected by iPhones and iPads that have GPS and Wi-Fi location services enabled. Apple uses this crowd-sourced data to run its location services; however, the location database is not meant to be public. You can download the tool via Giuthub."
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Tool Reveals iPad and iPhone User Locations

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  • Ouch! (Score:5, Funny)

    by hcs_$reboot (1536101) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @09:43AM (#43674197)
    The divorce rate will increase dramatically if Apple doesn't fix this ...
  • Protect yourself (Score:5, Informative)

    by Thornburg (264444) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @09:50AM (#43674247)

    And this is why your iDevice should never be set to automatically join wifi networks.

    Actually, NO device should be configured to automatically join wifi networks.

    (For those who didn't read the docs that go with the software, this relies upon running an access point with no DHCP, which is what forces the iDevice to send ARPs for the last DHCP server it used).

    Also, this means that if you want to "hide" your home network, don't run DHCP on your WiFi router, use another device.

    • Re:Protect yourself (Score:4, Interesting)

      by beelsebob (529313) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @10:19AM (#43674499)

      Joining, and discovering are not the same thing. You don't need to join a network for your phone to register it as near your location.

      • Thus, a better solution would be that the device changes its ID every once in a while.

        Might be a good idea for nonportable devices too, because that would screw up Google's wifi data harvesting practices.

      • Re:Protect yourself (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Thornburg (264444) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @10:56AM (#43674899)

        Joining, and discovering are not the same thing. You don't need to join a network for your phone to register it as near your location.

        Absolutely true. But your phone won't give away the MAC address of your previous network unless it's trying to join the fake wifi network. Unless I'm greatly misunderstanding what I read.

        From GitHub:

        To solicit ARPs from iOS devices, set up an access point with DHCP disabled (e.g. using airbase-ng) and configure your sniffing interface to the same channel.

        Once associated, iOS devices will send up to three ARPs destined for the MAC address of the DHCP server on previously joined networks. On typical home WiFi routers, the DHCP server MAC address is the same as the WiFi interface MAC address, which can be used for accurate geolocation. On larger corporate WiFi networks, the MAC of the DHCP server may be different and thus cannot be used for geolocation.

        I'm pretty sure that for a device to be associated, it has to be attempting to join the network. I could be wrong, I'm not a WiFi engineer. Please correct me if I'm wrong about that.

        • by Smurf (7981) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @04:17PM (#43678873)

          I'm pretty sure that for a device to be associated, it has to be attempting to join the network. I could be wrong, I'm not a WiFi engineer. Please correct me if I'm wrong about that.

          No, I'm pretty sure that you are absolutely right about that: You are not a WiFi engineer.

    • by neorush (1103917)
      Agreed, anyone who has there device configured like this doesn't keep up with Doctor Who [wikipedia.org].
    • by antdude (79039)

      For iCloud and tracking the Apple devices, isn't this connecting to wireless networks required?

  • by Xenious (24845) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @10:10AM (#43674403)

    Hmmm, "it can be used to find where people live", so can a phone book. ;) A lot of the time summaries take a very specific issue (quoting from Thornburg) "this relies upon running an access point with no DHCP, which is what forces the iDevice to send ARPs for the last DHCP server it used" and escalating it to a more dramatic issue. Sometimes with a very simple partial solution (again from Thornburg) "NO device should be configured to automatically join wifi networks," and a general attack with the open source vs closed or apple vs anyone fighting. Grated the dry description isn't as eye catching but its much more logical.

    For the record yes I have an iPhone and no I am not setup to automatically join new wifi networks.
    -Xen

    • Well...it's not to be used to find where people lives, but if it keeps wifi history, then it means it can find where people is *right now*
      While it can have legit purposes, this could be bad in hands of stalkers, thieves and other criminals, specially when the potential victims have no clue. Also other less criminal but very potentially annoying/conflictive uses if this becomes common knowledge.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Well...it's not to be used to find where people lives, but if it keeps wifi history, then it means it can find where people is *right now*
        While it can have legit purposes, this could be bad in hands of stalkers, thieves and other criminals, specially when the potential victims have no clue. Also other less criminal but very potentially annoying/conflictive uses if this becomes common knowledge.

        Well, given it needs an access point with the same name, I'd say "right now" would be within the range of the acces

  • by Anonymous Coward

    As seen in the picture in TFA, there was a (lightning?) talk about this on the 29c3, this was over 5 months ago If they haven't fixed it since, why should the fix it now?

  • From the github page: "Written by @hubert3 / . Presented at Blackhat USA July 2012, code published on Github 2012-08-31"

    Slashdot, News of Last year, today! ;)

    But yes, it is a rather cool hack that still works....

  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @10:19AM (#43674481)
    iOS devices (and many other devices) use the known locations of wireless access points to determine their own location. (They check which wireless access points they can see, with which signal strength, and compare the results with a database of wireless access locations). What this guy found was that he could access the same database. So he can find locations of wireless access locations, which are _not_ iPads or iPhones, and there is no reason to assume that they would be owned by Mac or iOS device owners.

    That said, the information should not be available to anything but the operating system on a device.
    • "The tool works by accessing Apple's database of wireless access points, which is collected by iPhones and iPads that have GPS and wifi location services enabled."

      Although other devices may be accessing these points as well, these locations were reported by Apple devices. Once the MAC is resolved for that point, the process continues by isolating the devices using that router using a service such as Google's location services. Google locked down security on this service for this exact reason http://news. [cnet.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The point you might have missed, is that the iOS Devices send ARP requests to the MAC addresses of the last three networks' DHCP servers. This gives you a fair idea of where the device was used.

  • The "Wi-fi never works again" bug^h^h^h feature is the fix.

    Just update you iDevice, or get it warm, or get it cool, or bump it, or don't update it and your Wi-FI might drop off WiFi forever. Fixing the problem! Apple, it just works!

  • Now you can find that troll and punch him/her in the face... All you have to do is hack their computer, sniff the traffic until you see something from the WiFi router, use this database to find the approximate location of the user then knock on every door withing a 100 meter radius and punch the people that answer... I'm sure one of them will be the troll.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @10:47AM (#43674809)

    There's a glaring flaw in the summary. In order for this tool to work, the iPad owner has to have used Apple Maps.

    Who actually uses Apple Maps? Haven't most of those people already been eaten by kangaroos in the desert or driven into canals?

    • by Ryanrule (1657199)

      Apple maps is great fun on the ipad. Pull up a big city and its like being in the future.

      • by _xeno_ (155264)

        Apple maps is great fun on the ipad. Pull up a big city and its like being in the future.

        A dystopian future full of broken buildings, weird piles of wood and leaves that may have been trees, and lumps in the road where cars used to be.

        Whatever they're using to automatically generate 3D buildings is kind of cool in theory - it just produces hilariously awful results.

      • by Bigby (659157)

        So it is like SimCity, but it works

    • by Idbar (1034346)

      Haven't most of those people already been eaten by kangaroos in the desert or driven into canals?

      I guess it will make an excellent forensic application then! They will be able to find those poor missing people.

  • by pbjones (315127)

    the only tool here is the person who goes out of way to set up a Linux box and WiFi point to track people. If you consider that the average WiFi has to be reasonably close to the target, then you must already have some general idea about where the target is, a lot of trouble for almost nothing.

  • I read this as '''''[The Band] Tool

It seems that more and more mathematicians are using a new, high level language named "research student".

Working...