iPhone Tracking: How to read the consolidated.db with Kettle

I will not discuss about the buzz about the iPhone tracking – all that needs to be discussed is already out. That iPhone is storing locations in the consolidated.db was known a long time ago, but now we got a prove of concept by Pete Warden and Alasdair Allan and this inspired me to dig into this a bit more.

After an amazing short time of less than one hour I made it possible to read in my own iPhone consolidated.db with Kettle. [It takes more time to write about this… and the other real hard thing was to locate this file in my file system.] When we can read this file with Kettle we are open and can look up any additional data, filter by any criteria, store this in another database, use the Pentaho BI Suite to create maps and anything else that can a human being imagine. Just have a look at the Pentaho Sandbox or more general to the Pentaho site.

Here are my findings and steps to reproduce:

1) Locate the consolidated.db in your filesystem.

This is a little bit tricky, since the filename is mapped to an ID. I found it very easy by just searching for the string „CellLocation“ in the iTunes backup folder, described over here for Windows:

findstr /M CellLocation C:\Users\[Username]\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\[latest backup folder]\*.*

I copied the file 4096c9ec676f2847dc283405900e284a7c815836 (this was my sample filename, yours will be most likely different) to consolidated.db to another folder.

A more robust and flexible solution is to read in and analyze the Manifest.mbdb / Manifest.mbdx as described over here in a Python script. It shouldn’t be too hard to port this to Java or JavaScript for a flexible Kettle solution.

2) Read in the consolidated.db with Kettle

Create a transformation with a SQLite connection type. The database name is the location of the filename as shown below as a sample:

SQLite connection type for consolidated.db

Let’s create a simple transformation (attached): Read in the Cell data, convert the Mac Absolute Time to a Java time and just group on a daily basis for simplification:

Transformation for consolidated.db

Let’s do a preview and browse the data a bit. Well I’m located in Mainz, known to be exactly at Latitude 50. So every other data is of interest and here comes a sample:

Sample Result for consolidated.db

Where I have been there? My forensic research on my own calendar found that I have been at the Pentaho EMEA Partner Summit & Community Event in Lisbon…. or was it only my iPhone?

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