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New Edward Snowden Documents Outline How Gov't Allegedly Tracked iPhone Users

Docs are still coming out...

This June 9, 2013 photo provided by The Guardian Newspaper in London shows Edward Snowden in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras)

If you want to make sure your iPhone is safe from hackers, you might want to double check your computer.

NSA documents recently published by Der Spiegel and first obtained by the former contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal that despite Apple's malware security features for iPhones, hackers (or spies) could still see your data if you sync it with your computer. That's how the Government Communications Headquarters allegedly tracked iPhone users in the United Kingdom.

This June 9, 2013 photo provided by The Guardian Newspaper in London shows Edward Snowden in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras) This June 9, 2013 photo provided by The Guardian Newspaper in London shows Edward Snowden in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras)

That is, until just last year when Apple stopped accepting apps using the Unique Device Identifier, or UDID. That was the identifier used by the GCHQ to track individual targets syncing their iPhones with their computers, according to TheVerge.

Apple iPhone users in the U.S. may have been surveilled under similar tactics to those of the U.K.'s GCHQ, according to documents. In 2013, it was discovered the NSA had used ad tracking cookies to prove the identity of its targets before infecting them with malware, using Google's "Preferences" option to follow the websites they visited.

Such tactics allowed government intelligence agencies track individual targets across networks, such as from cellular data network to a WiFi network and back to cellular data. In turn, that would allow the NSA to essentially place a tracking cookie disguised as a Google cookie into one's device for possible further tracking, TheVerge reported.

The same could be true of targets who use their phones to sync with their sometimes less secure desktop computers or laptops. But for Apple iPhone users, that's no longer a likely scenario as the UDID the NSA allegedly used to track targets is no longer an indicator used by apps sold in the App Store.

(H/T: TheVerge)

Follow Jon Street (@JonStreet) on Twitter

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