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Apple sort of addresses AirTag safety concerns


Apple’s AirTags are pretty useful gadgets for finding lost things. However, there are more and more negative reports about the devices: Criminals abuse them for theft or stalking. Apple has now taken a stance in a new statement but ignores the heart of the problem.

TL;DR

  • Apple released a statement on the AirTag security issue.
  • They confirmed cooperation with law enforcement agencies.
  • AirTag network gets further improvements.

If you also like to forget your wallet in the car or usually find your door key in the washing machine, then AirTags are a really great gadget. However, ever since the release of the AirTags, there have been serious concerns. My colleague Benjamin Lucks, was also worried about the security of the AirTags last year and published an article to express his frustrations.

In recent weeks and months, there has been an increased amount of cases where Apple AirTags have been misused for criminal purposes. From tracking vehicles to stalking humans, the gadgets have caused a great deal of concern. Apple, which prides itself in maintaining the security of its users, or at least its own image as a security-focused company, has made a public announcement.

Cooperation with law enforcement agencies

In the statement, Apple mostly talks about the misuse of AirTags. Among other things, the company confirms its cooperation with international law enforcement. Since the small devices are linked to an Apple ID and all have unique serial numbers, tracking through the ID is possible. In the event of a lawsuit, the ID can be passed on to the relevant authorities.

However, this cooperation does have some problems. For one thing, anyone can create an Apple ID, and it shouldn’t be a problem for criminals to cover their tracks by falsifying information. IP tracking would also be possible in principle as a solution, but it would be quite an intrusion into the privacy of users. The company has been criticized for this in the past.

Apple’s AirTags always cause a stir! / © NextPit

Improvement of the AirTag network and the big problem

In addition to the quite commendable cooperation with the authorities, Apple wants to improve the entire “Find My” network. In doing so, the company wants to primarily address some fundamental problems related to AirTags. When you set up or update a new AirTag, you will also receive a message that explains that the AirTags are only meant to locate your own possessions.

It also fixes a security notification bug that will no longer show your AirPods as an “unknown device” in the future. The support documentation page received an update to better explain the security features of the entire network. Also, in addition to the sound to indicate an AirTag nearby, a notification will appear on your smartphone in the future. However, this is exactly where the aforementioned problem lies.

There are already manipulated AirTags on the market, where the small speaker has been removed. The fact that an extra notification is now implemented can definitely be a step in the right direction. But criminals certainly have no qualms about using fake Apple IDs or removing the speakers, nor will they be intimidated by a warning about misusing the devices. So the AirTags still remain a safety risk. Whether Apple will be able to save the reputation of the trackers in the future is currently difficult to assess. 

What do you think about the statement? What do you think would be a step in the right direction to protect the devices from misuse? Let me know in the comments!


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