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posted by janrinok on Wednesday June 11 2014, @11:53AM   Printer-friendly
from the whats-in-it-for-them? dept.

Russell Brandom reports that a new feature in iOS 8 is set to cause havoc for location trackers, and score a major win for privacy: When iOS 8 devices look for a connection, iOS 8 will randomize their MAC address, effectively disguising any trace of the real device until it decides to connect to a network. Why are iPhones checking out Wi-Fi networks in disguise? Because there's an entire industry devoted to tracking customers through that signal. Shops from Nordstrom's to JC Penney have tried out a system that automatically logs any phone within Wi-Fi range, giving stores a complete record of who walked into the shop and when. But any phone using iOS 8 will be invisible to the process, potentially calling the whole system into question. "Now that Apple has embraced MAC spoofing, the practice of Wi-Fi sniffing may stop working entirely," says Brandom. "The result is a privacy win for Apple users and a major blow against data marketing and all it took was an automatic update."

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11 2014, @11:36PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11 2014, @11:36PM (#54350)

    That is a misleading characterization. The ibeacon thing requires an app on the phone be looking for the beacon, its the reverse of listening for wifi MAC addresses because the ibeacon is the one broadcasting and phone is the one listening. If you don't have an app set up for that specific ibeacon's address, your phone does nothing. If you do have an app, whatever happens next totally depends on the app. The app could just passively record the fact that it saw the ibeacon's broadcast or it could go and try to connect to a website or something else crazy.

    But ibecaon itself is only similar to mac address sniffing in the most superficial of ways - they both involve some kind of radio.