Categories: Cybersecurity

Apple AirTags and Tracking Myths

With mounting concerns about AirTags being used to track/stalk people and other objects, Apple has chosen to make a number of changes to AirTags in recent releases in try to limit its unwelcome tracking use.

AirTag was first published on April 30, 2021, with the goal of assisting Apple consumers in keeping track of personal goods like purses, keys, backpacks, and other precious objects via the Find My app. AirTag has received both positive and negative feedback as it approaches its one-year anniversary. AirTags have proven to be effective in locating misplaced things. For example, a person who misplaced their wallet on the subway was able to locate it at a different stop across town thanks to the AirTag. However, there are some negative reviews.

Working Principle of AirTag

Before we get into the escalating tracking concerns with AirTag, it’s vital to grasp the basics of how it works.

AirTag tracks lost or stolen things using ultra-wideband technology and a broad network of existing Apple devices. It broadcasts a secure Bluetooth signal that is detected by adjacent Find My network Apple devices. Those devices broadcast the AirTag location to iCloud after receiving the signal. When you use the Find My app to monitor your AirTag, it will show you where it is on a map. You can also use the app to make the AirTag make a sound so you can quickly locate it. Apple has guaranteed that the entire procedure is secure.

Concerns about AirTag tracking

When we consider the advantages that AirTags provide, it is clear that it is a gadget that we all require. However, due to its increasing illicit use, its superior tracking capabilities have made a lot of news in recent months. After police discovered an AirTag in the victim’s car, a guy was arrested and charged with stalking in Connecticut. Similarly, model Brooks Nader revealed to her fans that an AirTag was hidden in her coat one night in New York City. Furthermore, authorities in a number of jurisdictions have expressed their concerns and issued warnings concerning the illicit use of AirTags.

New AirPods provide comparable tracking capabilities to AirTags, although they are far more expensive.

Apple’s New AirTags Updates

Apple has made a few upgrades in the past and plans to make a few more recently in response to consumer complaints about AirTags.

Apple upgraded the AirTag software in June 2021, reducing the alert time from 3 days to 8-24 hours after the AirTag is lost from the owner. Apple announced a Tracker Detect software for Android devices in December 2021, allowing users to check for Find My devices that have been separated from their owners near them (for at least 10 minutes).

With several new changes in the next update, Apple is focusing on taking significant steps to address the illicit usage of AirTags. The following are some of the major changes coming to AirTags:

  1. Apple will display a privacy warning when the AirTag is set up for the first time with the new software update. The notice will state that the device is only intended to track personal items and not to track people without their consent. Furthermore, it will explain that tracking someone with an AirTag is a criminal offense in many jurisdictions, and that law enforcement can ask for AirTag owners’ identity information.
  2. Precise Locating: The “precision finding” capability will be available to iPhone 11, 12, and 13 users, allowing the recipient of an unwanted tracking notice to locate the unfamiliar AirTag with pinpoint accuracy. When an unknown AirTag appears within range, users can observe its direction and distance with this functionality.
  3. Change: Aside from the modifications mentioned above, Apple is working on further changes that will reduce the use of AirTags in illicit activity. Furthermore, Apple is cooperating with law enforcement and is willing to reveal the AirTag owner’s Apple ID credentials if the business receives a lawful request.

Conclusion

There is no question that AirTags are being utilized to track others. Many incidents have been reported thus far, and people are becoming increasingly anxious. All of these occurrences have prompted Apple to take more deliberate precautions to prevent criminals from using AirTags. The above-mentioned upgrades, as well as many more that we anticipate to see soon, will help to decrease the illicit usage of AirTags. So, we’ll have to wait and watch how this AirTag tracking scenario develops in the future.

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