Can Stalkers Track You Using Apple AirTags?
Do you often misplace your keys, wallet, or precious belongings and wish there was a way to track them?
With the launch of Apple AirTags earlier this year, we finally found a high-tech cure to forgetfulness. However, there have been some growing concerns that stalkers and criminals can also use AirTags to track people.
Let’s find out if criminals can actually stalk people using AirTags and whether Apple is making any efforts to keep things secure. Also, don’t forget to read our essential tips on protecting yourself from becoming the next stalking victim through AirTags.
At about the size of a quarter, Apple’s AirTags help you keep tabs on your belongings. The AirTags use a combination of onboard sensors and wireless signals to help owners identify their lost items, pinpoint location by sounding off an alert from the tracker, or show compass-like direction arrows on a mobile app.
Like a Tile tag, Apple’s AirTag can either be clipped onto (through a separate keychain) or slipped inside various devices such as keys, bags, wallets, etc. And just like AirPods, the AirTag can be paired with your iPhone and works with the Find My app.
Once paired, the AirTag appears in the new items tab of your Find My app. From there, you can easily find the last known location of any missing or lost item that has the AirTag attached to it.
If the lost item happens to be within Bluetooth range, you can signal the AirTag’s built-in speaker to play a sound through the Find My app. AirTags also support Siri, so you can even use your iOS assistant to help track your lost item.
Note: If you have a supported iPhone 11 or later with Ultra-Wideband technology and your AirTag is nearby, you can use Precision Finding (an advanced technology within Apple’s AirTags) to locate your AirTags accurately.
To avoid unwanted tracking, Apple has integrated certain protective features inside AirTags, such as the “AirTag Found Moving With You” notification with the updated iPhones. But the fact remains that AirTags are tiny devices, and anyone can easily stash them in your belongings or vehicles to track your location without your consent or knowledge.
Also, it doesn’t help much that there are not many ways to detect if someone is tracking you by using an AirTag or any tracking device for that matter.
Here are a few ways stalkers can use AirTags to their advantage:
Finding Where Someone Lives
By discreetly slipping an AirTag inside a victim’s bag or pocket, a stalker can stalk the victim for up to three days before the AirTag chimes or generates an alert.
While victims with updated iPhones can get the “AirTag Found Moving With You” notification, those with Android phones or not running iOS 14.5 or later versions are simply out of luck. The only way for them to find out that someone is tracking them is if the AirTag was moved around for three days, after which it starts beeping an alert. And three days is a long time frame for a stalker to find the detailed whereabouts of their victim.
Taking Advantage of Older iPhones and Android Phones
As mentioned above, the only protection for Android and older iPhone users is the audible alert.
But what if the victim’s phone has the speaker disabled? The AirTag only generates the beeping alert after three days of separation from its paired iPhone, which means the stalkers have ample time to reset the AirTag timer and thwart the alarm.
Also, know that a distance as large as 50 feet is enough for the AirTag to communicate with the stalker’s iPhone over Bluetooth.
Tracking devices can be a serious threat to domestic abuse survivors. Back in 2018, a woman in Houston was followed for days by her ex before she realized that a tracker discreetly placed inside her car was the main culprit.
While Apple’s AirTags are an easy and inexpensive way to track your lost or stolen items, they can also be turned into a surveillance tool by disgruntled spouses or anyone with a vengeance in their minds.
The reality is that stalkers can conveniently use AirTags to keep tabs on their victims.
Is Apple Paying Heed to the Stalking Concerns?
In response to the growing privacy and stalking concerns, Apple has recently updated the AirTags.
Here is what these updates entail:
- The new update reduces the time it takes for an AirTag to send an alert after being dislocated from the owner.
- AirTags can now make random noise anywhere between eight and 24 hours instead of the original three-day window after the dislocation of an AirTag. This is a considerable improvement for Android users as they receive no on-screen notification as iPhone users do.
- Apple is currently working on an Android app that can detect nearby AirTags. Apple claims that the app will detect the presence of any Find My-enabled devices.
4 Tips to Protect Against AirTag Stalking
AirTag is a valuable product, but it’s something that can easily attract stalkers. Therefore, we have compiled the following tips so you can protect yourself from becoming the next victim of AirTag stalking:
1. Use a Bluetooth Scanner App
While AirTags use Bluetooth signals to connect to Apple’s Find My network, you don’t always have to pair your smartphone to find a suspicious tracker.
Instead, you can use a Bluetooth scanning app to scan the area you are in. You can do this by simply wandering around inside your house or vehicle with the app turned on. While these apps might not reveal the name of the nearby AirTags, they may help you identify an unknown device in your vicinity.
Bluetooth BLE Device Finder and BLE Scanner are both good options for this purpose.
Note: These scans might not be efficient if you live in an apartment building, as you might end up picking your neighbors’ devices as well.
2. Eliminate Potential Hiding Spots
If you suspect that someone is tracking you via an AirTag, then you should eliminate potential hiding spots, first and foremost. Try to think from the stalker’s perspective and what information they might have on you.
By making changes such as reducing the number of personal belongings you carry around, swapping your bag, or using Uber instead of your car, you can help narrow down the location of the hidden AirTag.
3. Locate the Serial Number of the AirTag
If you find a stalker’s AirTag inside your belongings, then the first thing to do is locate the serial number of the AirTag. This is to ensure that the AirTag’s actual owner does not get alerted.
If you own an iOS device, download the Find My app and hold the AirTag next to your device. This will show the name of the AirTag on the screen, and once you tap on the name, the app will provide you its serial number.
What if you find the AirTag that is being used to stalk you, but you do not want to fall into the nitty-gritty of tracking the stalker? Well, your best bet would then be to disable it completely.
The easiest way to turn off an AirTag is by taking out its button-shaped battery. All you need to do is press down and twist the battery cover to access the removable battery. This will stop the AirTag from tracking you and alert its owner that the battery is no longer operational.
Alert Victims Are a Stalker’s Worst Nightmare
New technology and inventions often come with unintended consequences. While you may never lose your keys again, the Apple AirTags pose some serious stalking and security concerns.
From stealthy tracking done by spouses of domestic abuse survivors to locating someone’s whereabouts, there are many reasons why stalkers can use AirTags to their advantage.
However, taking proactive measures such as staying alert at all times, updating your iPhone iOS, using Bluetooth scanning apps, and staying cautious in public should avert AirTag stalkers and keep you protected from becoming their next victim.
AirTags are a great way to keep track of your items. But should you also use them to keep track of your child and help ensure their safety?
About The Author
(64 Articles Published)
Kinza is a technology journalist with a degree in Computer Networking and numerous IT certifications under her belt. She worked in the Telecommunications industry before venturing into technical writing. With a niche in cyber-security and cloud-based topics, she enjoys helping people understand and appreciate technology.
via MUO – Feed https://ift.tt/1AUAxdL
November 7, 2021 at 05:03AM