The location tracking file in question was described in a presentation at the Where 2.0 Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, April 20, 2011. The presentation was made by two researchers, Pete Warden, who worked for Apple for five years and left the company three years ago, and Alasdair Allan, a researcher at Exeter University in the UK. O’REILLY© Media posted a YouTube Video discussion by the researchers on the subject. The directory of files was discovered by accident while working on a mobile data visualization project. The file is present in iPhones with iOS 4 and up.
The tracking function records the phone’s movements, including cell phone towers, latitude, longitude and all the Wi-Fi hotspots it connects to. The file is in the SQL format and is called “consolidated.db”. It is static and thus never leaves your phone. The database file is unencrypted and will end up stored also in your computer based back-up and in any machine you have synchronized with, including your iPad. There is no present known use for the file. By jail breaking your iOS device, a hacker can access the file. One way to protect your phone back-up stored in your PC is to use the encrypted mode in the backup application.