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And that ordering allows what the Kyoto researchers call a trilateration attack.That trick works by creating two fake accounts under the control of the researchers.And unlike previous methods of tracking those apps, the researchers say their method works even when someone takes the precaution of obscuring their location in the apps’ settings.
Within fifteen minutes, Hoang had identified the intersection where I live. In fact, the outline fell directly on the part of my apartment where I sat on the couch talking to him.
Hornet and Jack’d have options to obscure the exact distance between users’ phones, adding noise to obscure that trilateration attack.
The lingering issue, however, remains: All three apps still show photos of nearby users in order of proximity.
In a statement to WIRED responding to the research, a Grindr spokesperson wrote only that "Grindr takes our users safety extremely seriously, as well as their privacy," and that "we are working to develop increased security features for the app.” Hornet chief technology officer Armand du Plessis wrote in a response to the study that the company takes measures to make sure users" exact location remains sufficiently obfuscated to protect the user’s location." Jack'd director of marketing Kevin Letourneau similarly pointed to the company's "fuzzy location" feature as a protection against location tracking.
But neither of the companies' obfuscation techniques prevented Hoang from tracking WIRED's test accounts.But after a slightly longer hunting process, Hoang was still able to identify my location.