Menu
EN

Phone’s location can be tracked without GPS or Wi-Fi

A group of researchers from Princeton University developed a technique called PinMe that allows to define a smartphone’s location by combining information from the phone’s sensors and other data from open sources like public transport timetables or elevation maps.

Many types of data generated and stored by a phone are not considered sensitive by developers, and apps do not need to ask for a permission to access it. For example, a time zone, device IP address, and network status can be accessed without permission, as well as the accelerometer, magnetometer (which measures the angle between the phone's heading and north), or barometer.

Combined with the information from maps, timetables, and various databases, the sensors’ data may reveal if a user travels by train, or an airplane, or drives a car, and where exactly he or she goes.

The researchers state, that the combination of data sources provided user tracking "comparable to GPS" on their iPhone 6, iPhone 6S and Galaxy S4 i9500 test devices.

Actually, the approach is not new. Security experts regularly demonstrate how innocent sensor or open source data can reveal private details of a phone owner’s life.

Back in 2014, for example, it was demonstrated how the access to the gyroscope and accelerometer can help identify a person by the patterns of his walking. Besides, the gyroscope can be used as a microphone, though not a precise one, and let a hacker listen to conversations near the phone.

In 2015 other researchers showed how the information about apps’ battery usage can be utilized for tracking a phone’s location.

Most of these techniques are more of a demonstration than an actual threat. They demand a lot of complicated activities and analysis, and the resulting information is not accurate and needs to be combined with yet other data. If you are not a politician or a movie star, you are quite unlikely to become their victim, at least until they become easier to embody.

But it is better to be safe than sorry, so do not install dubious apps from unknown developers, and carefully manage app permissions: if a flashlight app asks for the access to location data, IP address and sensors, think twice. And then reject.

Liked this post?
By downloading the comments you agree the terms and policies

AdGuard
for Windows

AdGuard for Windows is more than an ad blocker. It is a multipurpose tool that blocks ads, controls access to dangerous sites, speeds up page loading, and protects children from inappropriate content.
User Reviews: 18551
4.7 out of 5
By downloading the program you accept the terms of the License agreement
Read more

AdGuard
for Mac

AdGuard for Mac is a unique ad blocker designed with macOS in mind. In addition to protecting you from annoying ads in browsers and apps, it shields you from tracking, phishing, and fraud.
User Reviews: 18551
4.7 out of 5
By downloading the program you accept the terms of the License agreement
Read more

AdGuard
for Android

AdGuard for Android is a perfect solution for Android devices. Unlike most other ad blockers, AdGuard doesn't require root access and provides a wide range of app management options.
User Reviews: 18551
4.7 out of 5
By downloading the program you accept the terms of the License agreement

AdGuard
for iOS

The most advanced ad blocker for Safari: it makes you forget about pop-up ads, speeds up page loading, and protects your personal data. A manual element-blocking tool and highly customizable settings help you tailor the filtering to your exact needs.
User Reviews: 18551
4.7 out of 5
By downloading the program you accept the terms of the License agreement

AdGuard Browser extension

AdGuard is the fastest and most lightweight ad blocking extension that effectively blocks all types of ads on all web pages! Choose AdGuard for the browser you use and get ad-free, fast and safe browsing.
User Reviews: 18551
4.7 out of 5

AdGuard for Safari

Ad blocking extensions for Safari are having hard time since Apple started to force everyone to use the new SDK. AdGuard extension is supposed to bring back the high quality ad blocking back to Safari.
User Reviews: 18551
4.7 out of 5
Available on the
App Store
Download
By downloading the program you accept the terms of the License agreement

AdGuard Home

AdGuard Home is a network-wide software for blocking ads & tracking. After you set it up, it’ll cover ALL your home devices, and you don’t need any client-side software for that. With the rise of Internet-Of-Things and connected devices, it becomes more and more important to be able to control your whole network.
User Reviews: 18551
4.7 out of 5

AdGuard Content Blocker

AdGuard Content Blocker will eliminate all kinds of ads in mobile browsers that support content blocker technology — namely, Samsung Internet and Yandex.Browser. While being more limited than AdGuard for Android, it is free, easy to install and still provides high ad blocking quality.
User Reviews: 18551
4.7 out of 5
By downloading the program you accept the terms of the License agreement
Read more

AdGuard Assistant

A companion browser extension for AdGuard desktop apps. It offers an in-browser access to such features as custom element blocking, allowlisting a website or sending a report.
User Reviews: 18551
4.7 out of 5
Assistant for Chrome Is it your current browser?
Install
By downloading the program you accept the terms of the License agreement
Assistant for Firefox Is it your current browser?
Install
By downloading the program you accept the terms of the License agreement
Assistant for Edge Is it your current browser?
Install
By downloading the program you accept the terms of the License agreement
Assistant for Opera Is it your current browser?
Install
By downloading the program you accept the terms of the License agreement
Assistant for Yandex Is it your current browser?
Install
By downloading the program you accept the terms of the License agreement
Assistant for Safari Is it your current browser?
If you can't find your browser, try the old legacy Assistant version, which you can find in AdGuard extension settings.
Downloading AdGuard To install AdGuard, click the file indicated by the arrow Select "Open" and click "OK", then wait for the file to be downloaded. In the opened window, drag the AdGuard icon to the "Applications" folder. Thank you for choosing AdGuard! Select "Open" and click "OK", then wait for the file to be downloaded. In the opened window, click "Install". Thank you for choosing AdGuard!
Install AdGuard on your mobile device