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Investigation finds AirTags anti-stalking measures aren’t robust enough

By Nadeem Sarwar May 10, 2021, 9:01 am
What devices are AirTag compatible with

When Apple launched the AirTag a few weeks ago, the company revealed anti-stalking measures that would allow unsuspecting folks to detect if an AirTag has been planted on them i.e. secretly placed in their bag or taped to their vehicle. However, in an investigation conducted by The Washington Post journalist, the anti-stalking measures implemented by Apple simply are not enough. Fowler detailed multiple shortcomings, especially if you’re someone who doesn’t use an iPhone.

To start, Fowler notes that the alarm on the AirTag planted on him (knowingly, as part of the test), only rang after three days after being out of range from the iPhone belonging to the object tracker’s owner. If you happen to own an iPhone, you will see an ‘AirTag Found Moving With You’ notification on your phone, but the same is not available for Android phone users. What this means is Android phone users will go up to three days being tracked without noticing.

Another glaring loophole is that a malicious party can easily trick the AirTag’s anti-stalking alarm from going off. You see, an AirTag only starts chirping if it has been out of range from the owner’s iPhone for three days. A stalker can reset that countdown by just getting the range before that 72-hour window expires to keep tracking the victim without alerting them. And if the victim lives nearby, it is possible that the AirTag’s anti-stalking alarm might never go off at all.

“What makes AirTags particularly effective at tracking is they can connect with the hundreds of millions of Apple products out there to share their location with their owners. Think of it this way: AirTags work everywhere there’s a nearby iPhone,” Fowler writes. He also noted that a stalker can keep a track of your movement patterns with relative ease as the AirTag continuously updates its location by piggybacking on Bluetooth signal received by a nearby internet-connected iPhones, which means the victim’s residence, as well as outdoor movements, can be easily logged using the Find My companion app.

Additionally, the report mentions that the alert alarm is only a ‘light chirping’ that lasts for 15 seconds. What this means is if you’re in a noisy place, you might not notice it for a while. “Additionally, the report mentions that the alert alarm is only a ‘light chirping’ that lasts for 15 seconds. What this means is if you’re in a noisy place, you might not notice it for a while,” Fowler adds. Moreover, it appears that the chirping alarm is fairly easy to muffle, especially if the white plastic cover on the top (which is am part of the acoustic hardware) is pressed. So, if’s nestled tightly inside a cramped space, or heavily taped to your vehicle, it would be hard to hear the alert notification that is intended to inform users that they are being tracked by an unknown AirTag.

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