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Apps Can Track Users Even When GPS Is Turned Off


Princeton researchers have developed a proof-of-concept app that can be used to reliably track users even if an app does not access a phone's GPS data, and the user has purposely turned off GPS services.

Researchers say this is possible because modern phones come with a large number of accurate sensors that track a wealth of data that could be corroborated with external sources —such as elevation maps and weather data— and reconstruct a user's movements.

Researchers create PinMe app

To prove such an attack was possible, the Princeton research team created an app called PinMe that they installed on the phones of three test subjects, using phones such as Galaxy S4 i9500, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6S.

The app was able to reconstruct the test subjects' movements without accessing their phone's GPS data.

For starters, the app collected the user's IP address and WiFi connection information and checked it against public databases of WiFi networks to determine an approximate location of...(continued)

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