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Apple AirTag: Protect Against Unwanted Tracking
Cybersecurity· 7 minutes
Using technology for tracking keys, wallets, and other personal items is changing our everyday lives. Individuals are also at risk since the threat actors and the stalkers used the gadgets for their own reasons. They’ve utilized Apple AirTags to track people’s movements and invade their privacy frequently. Although Apple AirTags is a smart tracking tool for your devices, we must stop their misuse.
Apple is pushing security updates to minimize the misuse. Therefore, users have to ensure safety measures while using AirTags with their Apple devices. Here is a complete guide to protect yourself from being tracked.
Apple AirTag: The Stalking Issue
Apple created AirTags to help users keep track of their personal items. Although Apple performed all necessary security testing before releasing their final product. They didn’t think about the societal implications of negative tracking.
Many tech enthusiasts called AirTags as a “Stalkerware” product because of its potential misuse. There have been cases where individuals discovered these airtags in their cars. The AirTags provide real-time location that is pretty accurate as well. Therefore, it poses a significant amount of risk to anyone who is being tracked without consent.
Apple users use a wide range of Apple devices. These users are collectively a part of the “Find My” app network. The company has implemented multiple security features to ensure that users' privacy.
However, these security features are only limited to the Apple users in Find My app network. It exempted all Android and other OS users from these updates. As they mostly focused Apple products on people who are already their customers.
If you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch running iOS or iPadOS 14.5 and an AirTag is being used to track you. You will receive a message on your Apple device stating that, “AirTag Found Moving With You”.
Because most people use Android and are unaware of its presence. Researchers investigated AirTag’s security responsiveness, which yielded surprising results. After someone purposefully planted an AirTag in a car for research, it took an Apple device three days to discover it.
As of 2022, Apple is working to solve security flaws in its system by carrying out new security features. Apple enforced some of these security measures, with the rest to follow soon.
Display Alert & Sound: Apple introduced instant alert sounds whenever the AirTag device detaches from its owner. It also sends an alert to all nearby Apple devices, including iPhones, iPad or iPod. In this way, the precision tracking feature can find the device.
Precision Finding: Precision Finding is an amazing feature available on Apple’s most latest iPhones. The iPhone 11, iPhone 12, and iPhone 13 are among these smartphones. When AirTag finds an unwanted tracking device in the area, it alerts the user. It also locates the intrusive AirTag, allowing users to locate and disable the device, avoiding unnecessary tracking.
Faster Alerts: Unwanted AirTag devices previously took an average of three days to warn users about the tracking device. Apple recently released new security patches for AirTag. They improved their alert mechanism to ensure that victims become aware as soon as possible.
Louder Alert Sounds: Many customers complained that the invasive tracking device alert sound was inaudible. As a result, the company changed the alert sound to include harsher tones so that users are aware of the warning.
Bluetooth-enabled trackers are small, portable devices that use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to communicate with your smartphone. They typically have a range of about 100 feet, which allows you to track them from a distance. Most Bluetooth trackers also have a built-in alarm that will sound if you lose them, which can help you find them quickly.
Bluetooth trackers are useful for tracking a variety of items, including but not limited to: keys, wallets, purses, backpacks, laptops, and cats.
These trackers are very efficient, as they use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to communicate with your device. This helps to conserve battery life and allows the tracker to run for an extended period.
6 Ways to Prevent AirTag Tracking
Apple is working to tighten up their tracking product security. However, users have to make some efforts on their side as well to ensure that it protects them from any malicious tracking or stalking.
Search AirTags Manually
Searching for hidden AirTags in suspect locations such as automobiles, wallets, and backpacks is the most basic technique to find them. Although it is not the most efficient means of locating AirTags. It is never a bad idea to check for these devices in questionable regions if you have suspicions.
These devices are pretty slim and small, therefore, they can be hidden inside a backpack or a car.
Narrow Down Overall Items
If you are suspicious, that someone might use AirTag to track you. You should assume the type of information collected by the intruder. Once you have all the information, then narrow down the items that you carry.
This is the efficient way of locating the AirTag if someone has secretly hidden it in your belongings.
Use a Bluetooth Scanner
It’s highly efficient to utilize Bluetooth scanning devices to check for an AirTag in your neighborhood. Although a Bluetooth scanner may not recognize the AirTag device by its original name. It will recognize all bluetooth-enabled tracking devices in the area.
Find Serial Number
They assign a serial number to each AirTag device. In case you wish to make a lawsuit against the intruder who installed it. This serial number is crucial. They can also find the serial number by removing the AirTag’s battery, however, this will alert the intruder because of the disabled tracking.
A safer way to find a serial number is by installing Apple’s Find My app and then simply holding the AirTag up to your iPhone. Locate the name of the AirTag device and simply open it. This should reveal the serial number of your device.
Another easier method is by using your NFC-capable device such as the iPhone to scan the white side of the AirTag. A notification will pop up on the screen. It will open a new webpage with the serial number mentioned on the top.
Remove Battery & Disable Tracking
If you find AirTag in any of your belongings, then it’s a safer option to simply remove the small battery from the tracker. This will permanently stop the tracking and the person can no longer know your location.
In order to remove the battery, twist the back side of the AirTag in counter-clockwise direction where the Apple logo is located. Simply remove the battery present underneath to disconnect it.
Beware of Travel Restrictions
Before travelling to other countries, every user should know important travel regulations. In a few countries, such as Argentina, Indonesia, and Russia, the precision tracking feature does not work properly.
After many customers reported the misuse of AirTag, Apple released an app called “Tracker Detect”. Apple acted quickly to create an Android-specific software, allowing Android users to locate trackers connected to “My Find” app.
Because many Android users appear to be unaware of the AirTag’s misuse, a huge number of Android users are still vulnerable to stalking via bluetooth-enabled devices. The application also shows how to safely disable the tracker by removing the battery step by step.
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AirTags do certainly make it easier for Apple consumers to keep track of their stuff. However, there is a risk that people will use these trackers for their own evil objectives. These objectives may include stalking and tracking others without their permission. Apple is slowly releasing updates to address the problem. However, they are still trying to push new updates.