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Phones Vulnerable to Location Tracking Even When Gps Services Off


Smartphone data can be used to track users even when the phones GPS is off.

A new app developed by Princeton University researchers can pinpoint and monitor people via their smartphones even when global-positioning system data access is deactivated.

Credit: Princeton University

Researchers at Princeton University have developed PinMe, an application that can pinpoint and monitor people via their smartphones even when global-positioning system (GPS) data access is deactivated.

PinMe sifts through information already stored on the phones that can be accessed without permission, which can determine the phone owner's location and even mode of travel when computed along with publicly available maps and weather reports.

The researchers say PinMe uses algorithms that localize and track someone by processing information such as a phone's Internet Protocol address and time zone, along with sensor data, with the app virtually undetectable.

They note this concealment stems from PinMe's ability to collect only a small amount of data, five times a second on average.

Despite its possible nefarious uses, the team stresses PinMe offers a strong alternative to GPS-based navigation in driverless cars and other forms of transportation, since GPS signals are vulnerable to fraud.

From Princeton University
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