Risk
10/12/2012
09:02 AM
50%
50%

iOS6 Ad Tracking: How To Opt Out

By default, iOS 6 tracks iPhone and iPad owners' browsing history to serve advertisements.

Apple One Year After Steve Jobs: Hits And Misses
Apple One Year After Steve Jobs: Hits And Misses
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Value your privacy? Listen up. Apple's iOS 6 platform, which ships on the iPhone 5 and can be installed on older iPhones and iPads, is tracking your browsing history. It's doing this to more effectively target you for advertising. This behavior isn't necessarily nefarious, but it might irk some iOS device owners.

Apple no longer allows app developers to use the UDID (unique device identifier) code to track devices and device behaviors. The UDIDs are permanent numbers that can be tied to a specific device and, ultimately, a person. The lack of anonymity in this system forced Apple to look for another way to give advertisers the information they need. Well, it found one.

BusinessInsider spoke to advertising executives in order to understand the inner workings of the new system, and this is what's going on.

iOS 6 now uses something called an IFA--or "identifier for advertisers." The IFA is an anonymous number assigned to devices and users at random. Thankfully, it is temporary and can even be blocked. As iOS device owners use their apps or surf the Web, those apps and Web pages serve ads. In order to do that, the app publisher or website owner scans the IFA and passes it to the ad server, which logs the device's behavior and serves an ad based on what that person is doing with his or her device. Creepy.

Keep in mind, the IFA does not give away your personal identification. It doesn't tie John Q. Public to a specific device and behavior pattern.

[ Consumer privacy: is it a joke? Advertisers' 'Do Not Track' Protests Fail Smell Test. ]

The key part of this system, reports BusinessInsider, is that the IFA can be tracked by the ad company all the way to something called "conversion." This typically means when an iOS users sees an ad, clicks the link for that ad, and downloads an app or other content associated with that ad.

This system is on and active by default. I confirmed this on my own iOS devices. Thankfully, it can be turned off. Here's how.

The ad tracking setting is found by following the Settings -> General -> About -> Advertising path. Under that setting, you'll see something called "Limit Ad Tracking." When you encounter it for the first time, the toggle is in the "off" position. This actually means that ad tracking is turned on. In other words, your behavior is being tracked if the Limit Ad Tracking feature is turned off. If you want to opt out of targeted advertising and stop advertisers from following your online moves, switch "Limit Ad Tracking" to the on position.

As mentioned, this system is anonymous doesn't identify anyone personally. Even so, if you care to opt out, follow the steps above and you can feel slightly better than you're sharing less info about yourself with advertisers.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: just wondering...Thanx
Current Issue
Security Operations and IT Operations: Finding the Path to Collaboration
A wide gulf has emerged between SOC and NOC teams that's keeping both of them from assuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of IT systems. Here's how experts think it should be bridged.
Flash Poll
New Best Practices for Secure App Development
New Best Practices for Secure App Development
The transition from DevOps to SecDevOps is combining with the move toward cloud computing to create new challenges - and new opportunities - for the information security team. Download this report, to learn about the new best practices for secure application development.
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2017-0290
Published: 2017-05-09
NScript in mpengine in Microsoft Malware Protection Engine with Engine Version before 1.1.13704.0, as used in Windows Defender and other products, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (type confusion and application crash) via crafted JavaScript code within ...

CVE-2016-10369
Published: 2017-05-08
unixsocket.c in lxterminal through 0.3.0 insecurely uses /tmp for a socket file, allowing a local user to cause a denial of service (preventing terminal launch), or possibly have other impact (bypassing terminal access control).

CVE-2016-8202
Published: 2017-05-08
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Brocade Fibre Channel SAN products running Brocade Fabric OS (FOS) releases earlier than v7.4.1d and v8.0.1b could allow an authenticated attacker to elevate the privileges of user accounts accessing the system via command line interface. With affected version...

CVE-2016-8209
Published: 2017-05-08
Improper checks for unusual or exceptional conditions in Brocade NetIron 05.8.00 and later releases up to and including 06.1.00, when the Management Module is continuously scanned on port 22, may allow attackers to cause a denial of service (crash and reload) of the management module.

CVE-2017-0890
Published: 2017-05-08
Nextcloud Server before 11.0.3 is vulnerable to an inadequate escaping leading to a XSS vulnerability in the search module. To be exploitable a user has to write or paste malicious content into the search dialogue.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
In past years, security researchers have discovered ways to hack cars, medical devices, automated teller machines, and many other targets. Dark Reading Executive Editor Kelly Jackson Higgins hosts researcher Samy Kamkar and Levi Gundert, vice president of threat intelligence at Recorded Future, to discuss some of 2016's most unusual and creative hacks by white hats, and what these new vulnerabilities might mean for the coming year.