Personal Cybersecurity News: Apple AirTags

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Experts are warning of the use of Apple AirTags for stalking and other malicious activities.

Cybersecurity is not all about business and government regulations. Hacking and bad actors can directly impact individuals. Experts are warning of the use of Apple AirTags for stalking and other malicious activities.

Apple Airtags

An Apple AirTag is an IOS device that was created with the intent to easily track things like your keys, wallet, purse, backpack, luggage, and more. They are relatively the size of a coin and not easily detectible if placed within a large object, such as a car. Each AirTag costs around $30, which makes them attainable to many.

There has been a growing concern around these devices becoming a new form of stalking, which privacy groups warned of happening when Apple introduced the devices in April. Eva Galperin, a cybersecurity director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who studies “stalkerware” claims that AirTags present a “uniquely harmful” threat because the product allows for more exact monitoring of people’s movements.

AirTag Case Reports

The New York Times reported on a case where a woman in Los Angeles was at a friend’s home when she received a strange notification from her iPhone: “AirTag Detected Near You.”

The woman did not own one, nor did the friend she was with. The notification on her phone said that it had first been found four hours earlier. Which meant the individual in question had been following her for nearly four hours. A map also appeared with the path she had driven earlier that day while running errands. She said she felt violated and scared from the incident. “I just felt like, who’s tracking me? What was their intent with me? It was scary.”

This is just one of many cases that have been talked about recently on outlets like Twitter, Reddit, and TikTok, where individuals are finding AirTags on their cars and in their belongings. Police have reported AirTag related criminal activity in New York, Maryland, Idaho, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Texas, and elsewhere both in the US and internationally. A case in Canada reported on by a local police station, said that it had investigated five incidents of thieves placing AirTags on high-end vehicles so they can later locate and steal them.

The Guardian told the story of a 26-year-old Sports Illustrated swimsuit model who was walking home alone from a night out in New York when she received a disturbing iPhone notification telling her she was carrying an “unknown accessory”. The alert read, “this item has been moving with you for a while.” And a further notification alerted her that “The owner can see its location.”

Apparently, someone had slipped an Apple AirTag into her coat pocket while she was eating at a restaurant earlier in the day. 

How do I protect myself against the malicious use of an AirTag?

“AirTag is designed with a set of proactive features to discourage unwanted tracking — a first in the industry — that both inform users if an unknown AirTag might be with them, and deter bad actors from using an AirTag for nefarious purposes,” the tech giant representative said. AirTags do have abuse-mitigation features, including pop-ups like the notification letting individuals know they are carrying an “unknown accessory”. Another feature is an alarm that beeps at 60 decibels after the AirTag has been away from its owner anywhere between eight to 24 hours. Apple’s support site explains in more detail how to detect an unknown AirTag, and the steps on how to disable it.

For non-apple users, Android recently came out with an app called Tracker Detect. It’s designed to help people who won Androids discover suspicious AirTags near them. It’s only compatible with Android 9 or higher and will only work if the app is downloaded and updated consistently.

Personal Responsibility

Cybersecurity is not just about the protection of business assets, it also comes down to personal responsibility. Cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility. In a world where the cybersecurity threat landscape continues growing rapidly, things like stalkerware should be known to everyone and precautions should be taken.

Using best practices like the ones found on Apple’s support site, lessons from recent news surrounding misuse of AirTags, and understanding how to monitor yourself or your belongings for AirTags, will keep you better protected.

Feel Confident In Your Cybersecurity Procedures

If you are concerned about your cyber risk or don’t feel like you know where to start with cybersecurity, it may be beneficial for you to speak with a trusted partner. At CRI Advantage we believe everyone deserves access to a cybersecurity expert. We want you to feel confident in their cybersecurity procedures and trust that their data is secure and protected. That’s why for over 20 years, we have provided governmental and private organizations with cybersecurity experts to help guide their processes, identify weaknesses, and protect them from cybersecurity threats.

Download our 5 Step Cybersecurity Checklist

Let us help you feel more confident in your cybersecurity procedures. Contact us today to get started or download our free 5 Step Cybersecurity Checklist to help minimize your cybersecurity risk.

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