Eye-Candy or All-Seeing Eye? iPhone Effects a Security Risk?

Apple has past mastered using animation to aid both usability and fill transitions. An example of the latter is the "shrink" effect used when you hit the home button: whatever's currently on diminishes to nothingness and the home screen icons fly back into place. To do this effect, however, the iPhone takes a quick screen shot, and then uses the built in CoreGraphics/Animation layers to rapidly scale it down.

See the problem? No? Wired does: once a screenshot is taken, even if the iPhone immediately deletes it, those bits hang around inside your device. Current recommendations to properly destroy data involve multiple, pseudo-random overwrites. Absent that, forensics experts can often retrieve so-called "deleted" files. Including the screen shots the iPhone uses for animation. Including, potentially, any confidential or classified documents you were viewing -- or embarrassing Hello Kitty sites you were browsing --when you hit the home button.

Sure, this will likely never be a problem to most users. Passwords are obscured and not many of us have docs -- or look at sites -- that would be worth the significant forensic resources it would take to recover iPhone screenshot files.

But, a security/privacy concern is a security/privacy concern, and while this one doesn't trouble me personally, not knowing about it -- and making an informed decision based on knowing about it -- would.

And hey, at least it's not as tattly as Google Chrome...

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Eye-Candy or All-Seeing Eye? iPhone Effects a Security Risk?