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How Accurate is iCloud tracking

10442 Views 17 Replies Latest reply: Sep 16, 2013 7:31 AM by Csound1 RSS
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coolcarl222 Calculating status...
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Nov 24, 2011 4:15 PM

my macbook pro was stolen last weekend Novemeber 18th 2011. saturday morning. I have icloud installed on it and i was curious how accurate the tracking is because i got the singal of my tracked laptop, and its in a parking lot. now i have also tried to track my iPod touch that i have with me. and it also shows the GPS tracking is a little off. i was wondernig if there is a system of coordinations that shows how off the tracking is? I have informed the police and they will only search one location, so i have to make a choice of where they should look. I told them too look at the appartment compelx where it was stolen, as that is the only Wi-fi that i linked up too.

Macbook Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.4)
  • Winston Churchill Level 10 Level 10 (81,830 points)
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    Nov 24, 2011 5:06 PM (in response to coolcarl222)

    It very much depends on the numbers and the proximity of the equipment being used to track it.

     

    Where I live, it's possible to tell to the room in our home where the device is (i.e. I'm able to tell the difference between my wife's phone's location when it's in the kitchen against when it's in the lounge) , but when I track my son's phone who is at university in another location it can be as much as 2 miles off, and when I track him on his journey on the train from here to there, sometimes it is unable to track him at all.

  • perera Calculating status...
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    Jan 10, 2012 4:44 PM (in response to coolcarl222)

    I found i cloud not that accurate on many occasions, while my phone in hand it shows that i move to three different locations within 10 minutes, perhaps you should say to police that search at least 500 meters around where its stolen as I cloud can not give exact place as it seems    

  • stevejobsfan0123 Level 7 Level 7 (30,505 points)
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    Jan 10, 2012 4:46 PM (in response to coolcarl222)

    Mine's been right on. I think it really depends on the Wi-Fi connection, how strong it is, what type of router. I know that Wi-Fi is supposed to be more accurate than 3G, but it sounds like both of your devices are on Wi-Fi.

     

  • njrunner Calculating status...
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    Feb 8, 2012 12:59 PM (in response to coolcarl222)

    Does it still show up in the icloud? My sons Ipod was stolen a few weeks ago, and I've tracked it down to one of a few houses using the Finder. I'm a Network Security Engineer with a specialization with wireless, so I'm using a Wireless sniffer with a directional antenna that I've borrowed to definitively discover the correct address, rather than have the cops knocking on doors and trusting that whoever answers the door is honest.

  • njrunner Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Feb 24, 2012 4:20 PM (in response to coolcarl222)

    Sorry to hear that. I finally got my ipod back, the thief ended up glomming free wifi in a public place, and I was able to track him down by his MAC address with the Airmagnet tool. During my research I did find the following Linux image, which include an open source (free) version of a utility that provides the same functionality.

     

    If you can get your MAC address you can track it, but that may be the challenge. It may still be retained in your home router, or maybe if you have the original box it may be there. In addition, it's possible the Apple might be able to provide it - level 1 tech support might not be helpful, but you made need to escalate past them to get the MAC associated with your system.

     

    http://securitystartshere.org/page-training-oswa-assistant.htm#moocherhunter

  • njrunner Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Feb 26, 2012 10:57 AM (in response to coolcarl222)

    That's the key, you need the MAC address of the embedded WiFi NIC on the stolen item, which should be on box that your laptop came in (I think), or recorded on your wifi router (if it hasn't aged it out, or you've rebooted your router then its gone), or Apple tech support (but probably past level 1 tech support)

     

    In my case, the app told me the Ipod was in a hospital, I assumed the waiting area, and used a program like to identify the person in the waiting rm. In your case, if the app directs you to a given area with 6 apartments, the moocherfinder app should be able to tell you which apartment.

     

    This is essentially a 'two step dance', the "Find my Iphone" app gets you in the general area. Then, the link I gave you has an app called "moocher finder", which essentially tracks down a wireless MAC address based on its signal strength from a given laptop. There is an embedded video on the website with the guy using it, should be good watching.

     

    You need to assemble a few things, should be cheap (less than $100, which assumes you have a spare laptop, or a friend who can temporarily donate one for this use) On the laptop you can download the Linux image on the website, and put it on a USB thumb drive, then boot off the thumb drive, that way you can run Linux w/out installing it on a given system.

     

    You'll also need a compatible wireless NIC, there are some listed on the website. I bought a used one from Ebay, that way when I'm done I'll just relist it. The best NIC is one that can accept external antenna's, as the best way to locate is with a directional (Yagi) antenna. Below are two listing on Ebay.

     

    Wireless Card

     

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ubiquiti-SWX-SR71-WLAN-SR71X-802-11-a-b-g-n-300mW-Wirele ss-Card-MMCX-w-2-Ant-/230746485129?pt=COMP_EN_Routers&hash=item35b98ff189#ht_143 4wt_1185

     

    Antenna

     

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/16-dBi-2-4-GHz-Wifi-Yagi-Antenna-RP-SMA-Booster-16db-/30 0668395660?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item46013ba08c#ht_2073wt_952

     

    Good luck.

  • Csound1 Level 7 Level 7 (32,495 points)
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    Feb 26, 2012 11:11 AM (in response to coolcarl222)

    coolcarl222 wrote:

     

    well in the end it was tracked once, but it was like 3 appartments next to each other so really the cops just gave up and im out $3,000.00 it wasn't really a pinpoint like i hoped and expected from apple. i'm suprised they don't have an anti theft program build into the Mac OS

    Civilian GPS systems are limited to +/- 30 meters, so the best you can get is within a 100ft. Complain to the US military, it is at their request GPS is slightly 'randomized' don't want no miscreants using it to put a missile thru your kitchen window.

  • njrunner Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Feb 26, 2012 3:12 PM (in response to coolcarl222)

    True, but by focusing on the MAC address (once the GPS gets you in the ballpark) of the wifi signal with a directional antenna, you can triangulate on the position more precisely.

  • Csound1 Level 7 Level 7 (32,495 points)
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    Feb 26, 2012 4:11 PM (in response to njrunner)

    njrunner wrote:

     

    True, but by focusing on the MAC address (once the GPS gets you in the ballpark) of the wifi signal with a directional antenna, you can triangulate on the position more precisely.

    In practice my guess is that the accuracy will be defined by what the Poice are prepared to do, not by what is possible.

  • njrunner Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Feb 26, 2012 5:48 PM (in response to coolcarl222)

    True, entering someone's house with the 'proof' of the signal coming from the house is no probable cause. In the case of my stolen Ipod, I showed them the triangulated signal, I could set off the alarm while they're at the doorstep, but that was not enough. However a $3,000 laptop might mean something different. Recently in NY City I read about two cases, one a recovered Iphone, the second an Iphone & Ipad, where they used the "Find My Iphone" app to recover the merchandise - although in both cases the theft was at gun point, so that brings it into a different realm.

     

    What finally broke for me was I located the device outside of the house (hospital waiting room) and contacted the cops and recovered the Ipod.

  • stevejobsfan0123 Level 7 Level 7 (30,505 points)
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    Feb 26, 2012 6:02 PM (in response to njrunner)

    Glad to hear a Find my iPhone success story

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