Another iOS security concern, when will it end? New to the scene is a security loophole in the way iOS allows users to share information about their location. An application that implements this feature could grab user photos for the developer’s viewing pleasure. We are not certain how this is happening, but at the moment, that doesn’t matter. What does matter, however, is how fast will Apple release a fix to combat the problem.
Usually when a problem like this arises, address books and other things are the target. For the very first time, however, we are experiencing a problem where an app you have downloaded from the Apple Store is capable of giving its developer complete access to your picture library. This is scary, because pictures are more personal than numbers and names in an address book. What will happen next? Apps uploading videos to the developer server? It is unacceptable, and must be fixed sooner rather than later.
A developer, who by the request of the New York Times, created an application called PhotoSpy, was used to test the theory of an application’s ability to copy your pictures. Guess what? The theory became a reality.
“Conceivably, an app with access to location data could put together a history of where the user has been based on photo location,” said app maker Curio's co-founder David E. Chen. “The location history, as well as your photos and videos, could be uploaded to a server. Once the data is off the iOS device, Apple has virtually no ability to monitor or limit its use.”
Apple is the gatekeeper for App Store. It controls the process of which application gets in and out. If Apple does its job correctly, this privacy concern shouldn’t worry consumers too much. Having said that, Apple and developers knew about the threat and chose to keep it to themselves without updating the users. This is bad business practice. Every iOS user should know what they are getting into before downloading and installing an application.
Apple is becoming less vigilant in protecting consumers from problems such as this. As the competition mounts, Apple might lose its grip on being a competent gatekeeper, something we wouldn’t like to see happen.
(Reported by Vamien McKalin, Edited by Surojit Chatterjee)