You can find the smartphone and its owner even with the GPS signal turned off.
The easiest way to track the location of a mobile device and its owner is by satellite via the GPS signals transmitted by the phone. However, even with geolocation turned off, it is possible to determine its location — enough data from the nearest communication tower. This was told by the associate professor of the department “Intelligent Information Security systems” RTU MIREA Evgeny Kashkin.
“Using data on the level of the cellular signal between the smartphone and the tower of the mobile operator, determining the approximate location of the subscriber will not be difficult, “he explained to the agency”Prime”.
The same method is usually used by software manufacturers, navigation systems, and even regular websites when determining the user’s region. Many collect such data to offer customers products and services not only within the framework of their interests and preferences, but also based on their location.
A number of smartphones based on the Android and iOS operating systems have the “Find phone” function. If it is stolen or lost, you can locate it through your registered Google or iCloud account. But they can only be traced until geolocation or the gadget itself is disabled.
The method of tracking the phone using communication towers has a number of disadvantages, and the main one is the low accuracy of detection. Usually the towers are located far from each other. The distance in the cities is from three to five kilometers, and outside the city it reaches up to 12 kilometers. But in megacities, there are more towers to distribute the load between them due to the large number of subscribers. However, only the provider provides all the data and only at the official request of law enforcement agencies.
“If you have lost your phone, you need to contact the law enforcement authorities with a statement in which you specify the IMEI code of the device. In case of theft, even if the SIM card is replaced, the phone can be found even with geolocation turned off, ” Kashkin said.
The expert recalled that the love of users for social networks and geotags can play into the hands of those who follow the owner of the phone. This is something to keep in mind to protect your privacy.
“If the user specified the location when publishing, then any other user automatically gets access not only to the image, but also to the place where the picture was taken,” the expert pointed out.