Wednesday, February 29, 2012

iPhone photos can be seen by others

Recently, we learned that the iPhone’s Address Book can be sharedwith app developers because of a flaw that Apple says it is working to fix. Now it appears that a user’s photos on the phone can be similarly accessed by various apps without users knowing it.

The photo leakage can happen once a user gives an app permission to access location information on an iPhone (or iPad or iPod Touch), according to The New York Times. The app "can copy the user’s entire photo library, without any further notification or warning, according to app developers."

It is unclear whether any apps in Apple’s App Store are illicitly copying user photos. Although Apple’s rules do not specifically forbid photo copying, Apple says it screens all apps submitted to the store, a process that should catch nefarious behavior on the part of developers. But copying address book data was against Apple’s rules, and the company approved many popular apps that collected that information.

Apple declined to comment to the newspaper; we've also asked Apple about the issue, and will update this post if we hear back.

The newspaper said it "asked a developer, who asked not to be named because he worked for a popular app maker and did not want to involve his employer, to create a test application that collected photos and location information from an iPhone. When the test app, PhotoSpy, was opened, it asked for access to location data. Once this was granted, it began siphoning photos and their location data to a remote server. 
(The app was not submitted to the App Store.)"

Developers know that "this capability exists," the Times said, but they "assumed that Apple would ensure that apps that inappropriately exploited it did not make it into the App Store. Based on recent revelations, phone owners cannot be sure."


  1. To read the headline you'd expect that your photos would be available for all the world to see. Actually, in this instance "others" refers to specific app developers, and not random curious persons.

    I'm not saying that I approve of this. Apple should certainly fix it (along with the aforementioned similar Address Book issue).

    My objection is with the vague inflammatory headline.

  2. Oops. Looks like Android has the same issue.


  3. Oops, you're stupid again. For the last time, the point of this site is not to say that other OS's are perfect. It is to show that Apple has problems like everyone else. Besides, on Android it technically cannot be called a glitch or flaw because it was designed that way intentionally. Apple did not mean to have that ability for developers, therefore, it's a security flaw. If you don't understand what this site is about after it being explained to you a dozen times, please don't come back.

  4. So It's fine that you only highlight Apple's problems in your blog. That's your prerogative. But now you expect that commenters must also follow the same policy? What you want is one big happy echo chamber.

    I understand perfectly what this site is about: The pot calling the kettle black.
    You hate Apple but you don't hate its competitors who have the same issues or worse. Discrimination, pure and simple.

    I love the way Android's defenders claim that a problem is not a problem because it is intentional. That just means that the flaw was in the design instead of the implementation. Regardless, I'll bet more than a few Android users were surprised to learn that the entire contents of their SD cards were accessible to apps.

    Let's see if Google fixes what it claims was never broken.

  5. Clearly you don't understand dude. The site it for people that DON'T like Apple, not you. Although since you seem to be here a lot I think you are a closet hater yourself. Also it's not discrimination at all. We hate that Apple and their users have the gall to claim it is better when it clearly is not. The fact that you do not get that is not surprising. Sometimes I think you should think before you type. There are problems with every device and OS, get over it or f off.

  6. But what if, for every Apple flaw, the competition has two or three? That WOULD in fact make Apple "better". It's all about context --context that haters must suppress in order to justify their irrational hatred.

    Look at malware for example. Windows and Android users are swimming in it, and have been for years. But they jump with glee on those rare occasions when some proof of concept is announced for an Apple product.

    The examples of Apple problems cited on this blog are insignificant in the greater context of what Apple does well and what Apple's competitors do poorly. The truth hurts (haters).

    Dave can go on cherry picking, but he should be expect to be called out for doing so.

  7. We can say "what if" all day long, it doesn't make it true. As far as malware goes, despite the amount of it out there Windows is still the first choice for over 90% of consumers. Just about everyone I know has Windows and is very happy with no malware or virus problems. The truth is that Apple is not that great for what you pay, that does not hurt me one bit.

    And FYI, I don't "cherry pick" anything, this is stuff that's from the top of most news sites. But good try at belittling the facts.

  8. Go on, Dave. I support you. Haha. Apple sucks. I promise to myself I wont buy their pieces of crap anymore. The fact that Apple has problems like any other devices hurts their superior-fanboys I guess :P