An iPhone app released a few days ago called “Find My Car” has just turned into a PR disaster for shopping centre operator Westfield.
The idea seemed neat enough: download the app, and if you lose your car, just enter the number plate, which Westfield’s cameras had captured and indexed. Someone forgetting where they’d parked their car can then be shown a photo of where the car is.
As blogger Troy Hunt points out in this blog post, anyone can view anyone’s car.
Worse, he writes, the application can easily be unpicked to download the location, plates, entry and exit times of every vehicle in the Bondi shopping centre in which the service was first rolled out.
Picking the application apart, he says, shows that Westfield is “storing and making publicly accessible the time of entry and number plate of every single vehicle in the centre.”
Moreover, he demonstrates that access to this data isn’t just confined to someone using the “Find My Car” app: it’s on “public display to anyone with an Internet connection”.
It’s even possible that the underlying Park Assist service has been handled carelessly for longer than Hunt believes, with code purported to be from Park Assist posted to pastie.org back in April.
Not surprisingly, the service is offline at the moment. ®