Invasive Innovation: How Stalkers Abuse Apple AirTags & Tile Devices to Monitor Movements

FRESNO, California – Cody Sarhan, Communications Specialist

In an era of rapidly advancing technology, the convenience and functionality offered by tracking devices such as Apple AirTags and Tile cannot be denied. These small, unassuming devices are designed to help individuals keep tabs on their belongings, but their potential for misuse raises significant concerns about personal privacy and security. In the third article we’ve covered on privacy protections, we’re tackling these rising concerns and how they relate to your personal privacy safety. As more people adopt these devices into their daily lives, it’s crucial to recognize the potential dangers they pose in enabling stalking and tracking, and to understand how to safeguard against these risks.

“If you want to track somebody, that’s what these are designed for, and that’s where the problem really comes in. You have something that its intended use and its malicious use are almost identical.” — Justin Cappos, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at NYU Tandon School of Engineering

One of the most alarming concerns is the potential for unintended surveillance. While these devices were initially intended to make our lives easier, they can be misused for malicious purposes. Stalkers and individuals with ill intentions can easily attach these tiny devices to personal items, allowing them to monitor someone’s movements without their consent or knowledge. The prospect of being unknowingly tracked raises significant ethical, privacy, and personal safety concerns.

— Video courtesy of ABC News

Another issue to contend with is the potential for data breaches. The data collected by these tracking devices, including location information and personal data, can be vulnerable to hacking and exploitation by cybercriminals. This puts individuals at risk of having their sensitive information exposed and potentially misused for financial gain or personal harm.

Learn more: How BCT can help protect your privacy and data

Steps to Protect Yourself

In light of these concerns, it’s essential to take steps to protect ourselves from potential misuse of tracking devices. While some accessories like Tile have their own tracking app, company’s like Apple and Android are doing their part to help implement features created specifically to discourage people from trying to track you without your knowledge. Tile also has a step-by-step guide to help with privacy protection.

Prevention and Monitoring for iOS Devices

  • The Find My Network: If you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, Find My will send a notification to your Apple device. This feature is available on iOS or iPadOS 14.5 or later. To receive alerts, make sure that you:
    • Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services, and turn Location Services on.
    • Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services > System Services. Turn Find My iPhone on.
    • Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services > System Services. Turn Significant Locations on to be notified when you arrive at a significant location, such as your home.
    • Go to Settings > Bluetooth, and turn Bluetooth on.
    • Go to the Find My app, tap the Me tab, and turn Tracking Notifications on.
    • Turn off airplane mode. If your device is in airplane mode, you won’t receive tracking notifications.
  • Use NFC Scanner: Some iPhone’s are able to use the built-in NFC scanner to detect nearby AirTags. Using this Control Center you can scan to find items to ensure you’re not being tracked without your knowledge.
  • An AirTag, AirPods Pro (2nd generation) charging case, or Find My network accessory that isn’t with its owner for a period of time will emit a sound when it’s moved.

Prevention and Monitoring for Android Devices:

  • Check Connected Devices: In your Bluetooth and Location settings, review connected devices and active location-sharing apps. Disconnect any unfamiliar devices and revoke permissions from suspicious apps.
  • Regularly Review App Permissions: Periodically review the permissions granted to your apps. Disable location access for apps that don’t require it for core functionality.
  • Use Anti-Tracking Apps: In response to the growing concern regarding AirTags, Apple has launched the Tracker Detect app on Android, which isn’t as feature rich as the Find My network on Apple devices, and you have to manually scan your surroundings instead of it running in the background. Outside of this, some third-party apps are designed to detect tracking devices. Research and install reputable apps that help identify potential threats.

Stay Informed. Stay protected.

Staying informed about the latest developments and potential risks associated with tracking devices is crucial. Organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) provide valuable resources and insights into digital privacy and security.

We at BCT Consulting put privacy and personal security at the forefront of everything we do. While the convenience offered by tracking devices like Apple AirTags and Tile comes with its benefits, it also comes with a with a price – the potential for stalking, digital surveillance, and data breaches. It’s important to approach their use with caution and a strong emphasis on personal security. By remaining informed and taking proactive measures, we can strike a balance between convenience and protecting our privacy in an increasingly connected world.

For more information about how BCT Consulting can help protect your privacy and your data, contact one of our highly skilled technicians today.

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