Abstract: Mobile ad networks connect advertisers with mobile app publishers, to improve the suitability of ads shown to app users. These ad networks send metadata about mobile users and their devices to advertisers, who then use this metadata to select appropriate ads. This research demonstrates how mobile networks leak location data and other sensitive information from mobile phones by sending plaintext, unencrypted transmissions. It is therefore possible that geolocation information, associated with a user, could be captured by government and private sector entities, as well as by nefarious actors. An experiment was designed to discover how iPhone applications (“apps”) transmit unencrypted geodata to identify a user’s location. This research revealed that several popular mobile apps disclose the location of an iPhone by means of its UDID (serial number); this primarily occurred through mobile ad networks.
Keywords: Edward Snowden, Geodata, iPhone Forensics, Mobile Advertisements, Mobile Privacy, NSA
Download this article: JISAR - V9 N2 Page 24.pdf
Recommended Citation: Snow, C., Hayes, D., Dwyer, C. (2016). Leakage of Geolocation Data by Mobile Ad Networks . Journal of Information Systems Applied Research, 9(2) pp 24-33. http://jisar.org/2016-9/ ISSN: 1946-1836. (A preliminary version appears in The Proceedings of CONISAR 2015)