iOS users complain iPhone is taking secret pictures

New risk for mobile OS Gartner predicts will be a core part of corporate IT

Despite the rush of new products from other tab vendors – not to mention increasingly large-screened and sophisticated smartphones – Apple's iPad will continue to be the leading tablet for the foreseeable future, according to a Gartner study released today.

Apple's iPad and iOS will make up 69 percent of the tablet market this year, lose market share to Android and other new competitors, but continue to hold 47 percent of the market by 2015, the report said.

Tablets running Google's Android will make up 20 percent of the market this year and almost double to 39 percent by 2015.

Which at least gives you some options if large chunks of your workforce are committed to getting their hands on an iPad2, don't realize the OS on the iPad is essentially the same as on the iPhone, and didn't see the story saying some iPhone 4s with front-facing cameras were taking pictures of their owners without permission.

According to Apple Forum discussions, the glitch usually happens when the iPhone is sending or receiving a FaceTime video-conferencing request.

Rather than just wait until the connection is made, the camera snaps a still picture and stores it.

Since the owner isn't always holding the phone when FaceTime requests come in, they're not always fully prepared for public viewing when the photos are taken.

That could be a really expensive feature for companies who buy or maintain iPhones for end users, considering the $600,000 it cost a Pennsylvania high school to settle a lawsuit after students discovered their school-supplied laptops were taking webcam shots of them on the sly as part of a surveillance and security program set up by the school.

It could also be a major security problem, considering the problems iOS has had with SMS flaws that would allow attackers to use text messages to crash and then take over an iPhone, and security-bypassing back-door codes built into at least some iPhones.

The degree of insecurity probably isn't much worse than the condition laptops were in five or 10 years ago, or where Android is now.

The specific risks are different enough from laptops that end users (and IT) won't be accustomed to compensating for them, leaving them open wider and for longer than they might be otherwise.

The professionalism and organization of criminal gangs attacking wired and wireless corporate systems is much higher now than it was then. So the odds that a goofy flaw like a tendency to take really candid photos on the sly is much higher than it might have been a few years ago.

The least trouble that could cause is that a lot of unflattering photos of a lot of people would hit the web; the most trouble would let someone working remotely control the camera and the mic, giving them an eye and ear wherever the iPhone is, without the owner being any the wiser.

The FBI is apparently doing it; so have media organizations in the U.K. (That's not even mentioning apps like Security Cam or Spy Camera,which are designed to let an iPhone keep an eye on things in the owner's absence.

According to Gartner, 48 million iOS devices will be sold this year worldwide; 138 million will be sold in 2015. That is a lot of surreptitious listening and photography.

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