Apple’s famous iOS is better than most other smartphone OSs but that does not make it a bug-free one. So now, another bug has been discovered that allows a person to view the photos even without unlocking an iPhone.

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This bug, discovered by a Canadian Tech Consultant “Ade Barkah”, exposes the photos of a locked iPhone only when the time is set to a few days before.

Now you see, iOS 5 brought a lot of new features and opening camera by double tapping the home button from the lock screen was one of them. But when you try to open the gallery from there, you are presented with a message,

Unlock your iPhone to see all of your photos and videos.

Ade Barkah explains it further on his blog,

If your iPhone’s clock ever rolls back, then all images with time stamps newer than your iPhone’s clock will be viewable from your locked phone.

So if you are travelling in different time zones, and forget to change your iPhone‘s time, than all the photos taken after the date your iPhone is on, will be visible to any outsider who does this trick.

Ade Barkah suggested a few reasons for the presence of this bug,

  • It could be due to user error.  E.g., maybe while traveling across timezones you accidentally set the iPhone’s date or time incorrectly (rather than simply resetting the timezone).   If you set the clock ahead of what it’s supposed to be, then this vulnerability will appear when you reset to the correct time.  If you accidentally set the clock to the past, then your images will immediately become unprotected.
  • It could be an iPhone glitch.  E.g., a software or hardware issue could reset your iPhone’s clock to epoch time — iPhone’s “zero” time at midnight January 1, 2001.  In this case all your images are exposed.
  • It could be an infrastructure error.  E.g., if you automatically sync from a erroneous external time source (cell phone company, etc.)

Be careful from now on, and keep your iPhone’s date ever-correct. Or, someone might be sneaking into your photos without you knowing.