Apple's AirTag is quickly becoming the perfect tool for stalking Android users

nanoguy

Posts: 1,183   +20
Staff member
In context: Apple isn't the first company to develop a tracking fob. However, the extensive Find My network has made AirTags a very effective tool for criminals. It is a problem the company will have to solve for both iOS users and the three billion Android users who don't have a phone that can automatically detect rogue AirTags.

Back in April 2021, Apple launched AirTags — its first foray into the tracking fob market that takes advantage of its expansive Find My network. It can be a useful gadget for people who need to keep track of valuable possessions or keychains, but it comes with a set of safety concerns that could affect both people who use AirTags and people who don’t.

Last month, we learned that carjackers have begun to use AirTags to track high-end vehicles, which is not an unexpected development given how easy it is to hide one into an out-of-sight area. Apple did implement some countermeasures to hinder stalking attempts, but they’re not nearly as effective as they should be.

According to a BBC report, several women in the US told the police unknown individuals had stalked them over the past few months. They were lucky enough to be alerted to the stalking by their iPhones, which send an alert if an unregistered AirTag is detected nearby. There is no such feature integrated into the Android operating system, which is a problem that Apple can’t easily fix.

The Cupertino giant did release a Tracker Detect app on the Google Play Store that can look for nearby rogue AirTags. However, it’s unclear how much it can alleviate fears about stalking and theft when its adoption — around 100,000 downloads — is extremely low. Many people are likely unaware of the risk, and by the time they install the app, it may already be too late. Additionally, the app does not have automatic detection, so users must scan for AirTags manually.

One could argue that AirTags will make a 60-decibel beep between 8 to 24 hours after they are no longer around their registered device. Still, malicious actors can mitigate that by simply disabling the tracker before the warning sounds.

In any case, Apple isn’t alone in dealing with the stalking potential of tracking devices. Companies like Tile, Samsung, and Chipolo also sell tracking fobs and face similar problems. The most impactful solution would be a collaborative effort with Google to bring proper support for AirTags to Android users. It is unclear whether the two companies would even be willing to work together on such a feature. However, continuing instances of misuse may force them into a collaboration.

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Dimitriid

Posts: 2,089   +3,995
I'm sure the fix Apple will want is "Don't buy android phones"

Even misguided people will say "Just force Apple to comply with an open protocol instead"

The real solution for me is "Super convenient tracking devices shouldn't be on the hands of the general public, full stop"
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 6,271   +7,207
As a Hellcat/ Jeep SRT owner (primary vehicles being targeted), hearing of the Airtags being used in this manner, truly worried me so I've taken numerous "precautions" and bought many "anti-theft devices" (5.56mm and .50AE) to ensure I never wake up to a missing vehicle.

But the thought of someone slapping these on a child or female to track them, stalk them, harass them disgusts me.
 

Aceseven

Posts: 283   +364
As a Hellcat/ Jeep SRT owner (primary vehicles being targeted), hearing of the Airtags being used in this manner, truly worried me so I've taken numerous "precautions" and bought many "anti-theft devices" (5.56mm and .50AE) to ensure I never wake up to a missing vehicle.

But the thought of someone slapping these on a child or female to track them, stalk them, harass them disgusts me.
thats not really anti theft, thats more catch em in the act devices?
 

YumHypocrisy

Posts: 9   +44
As a Hellcat/ Jeep SRT owner (primary vehicles being targeted), hearing of the Airtags being used in this manner, truly worried me so I've taken numerous "precautions" and bought many "anti-theft devices" (5.56mm and .50AE) to ensure I never wake up to a missing vehicle.

But the thought of someone slapping these on a child or female to track them, stalk them, harass them disgusts me.

Lmao imagining you driving around a Hellcat full of fast food cups to save a dollar on coke.
 

Skjorn

Posts: 668   +534
I'm sure the fix Apple will want is "Don't buy android phones"

Even misguided people will say "Just force Apple to comply with an open protocol instead"

The real solution for me is "Super convenient tracking devices shouldn't be on the hands of the general public, full stop"
You have some of the worst reasoning I've ever seen.

About the car stuff. Just put one on your own car? They've been making trackers for ages. It's nothing new.
 

Skjorn

Posts: 668   +534
The issue is that now the average Joe can cheaply buy and easily use these tracking devices...
The average Joe has been able to buy them for ages. Apple is extremely late to the game. Businesses have been putting trackers on company vehicles since GPS has existed. Tiny cheap GPS trackers are nothing new.
 
As an owner operator of my own truck and an Android User, which one of you fruit cult people are going to offer me my first iPhone if my freight insurance rates go up and I can't prove I can scan for these tracking devices. :joy:
 

mrvco

Posts: 164   +156
As an owner operator of my own truck and an Android User, which one of you fruit cult people are going to offer me my first iPhone if my freight insurance rates go up and I can't prove I can scan for these tracking devices. :joy:

#1 Your insurance company required you to disclose which OS your phone runs?

#2 Just install the Android app that tells you whether there is an AirTag nearby.
 

human7

Posts: 25   +15
If the app were capable of continuous scanning it would be far more useful and mitigate some of the concern. However, how many people would bother to install the app in the first place? And, at the end of the day, there are many more tags out there, not just AirTags, that can be used for this type of tracking without having an easy way of finding them.
 

Tom Yum

Posts: 156   +369
The solution I've implemented is to be too poor to have anything worth stealing....

More seriously though, open standard plus baked-in support in Android for said open standard is the solution here. The chance of the former though is basically nil, and there is no way Apple would let Google bake in the AirTag app functionality into Android either.

For those saying tracking devices have existed for ages, yes they have, but not only are AirTags super easy to get, cheap as chips and quite accurate because of how many damn iDevices there are, there is lots of genuine reasons for carrying around a few so it is easier to plant one without getting caught or attracting suspicion. Other sorts of tracking devices....less so.
 
As a Hellcat/ Jeep SRT owner (primary vehicles being targeted), hearing of the Airtags being used in this manner, truly worried me so I've taken numerous "precautions" and bought many "anti-theft devices" (5.56mm and .50AE) to ensure I never wake up to a missing vehicle.

But the thought of someone slapping these on a child or female to track them, stalk them, harass them disgusts me.


Firstly, you won’t likely encounter whoever is stealing cars to be able to fire at them, this is why they deploy AirTags is to track you and your PATTERN. They want to figure out within your normal routine a period of time where they can get away with stealing your car and never encounter you and you never encounter them. Anyone that knows anything about hacking/stealing vehicles knows that mopar/Chrysler brand left a gaping hole in their security protocol with their key fobs and keyless start/unlock functionality and if they really wanted to they could steal your key god’s signature and unlock it behind your back and wait for you to go in and then hop in and steal it. All using off the shelf parts, about $75-$100 worth (in the currently inflated market) and few hours of coding on a single board computer like a raspberry pi system. And just walk around with that in a box with various RF hats installed and you wouldn’t be any wiser to them stealing your fob’s key that it used to sign cammands with, but the risk of being caught skyrockets so they usually use passive methods these days of just remotely watching you then stealing your fob’s keys and stealing the car. Many ways they could steal the fob’s keys, from sneaking a box under your car with randomly every few times you hit the unlock or lock button it jams it and steals that key and then use that key later, which has the risk of being invalidated as the key may have a timer set on each command or may see someone acting a bit sus and they don’t wanna get caught. all way down to most heaven I seen is some dude makes a HUGE loop antenna, attached it to how’s SBC with RF hat and using wire and walks up to your house at night and triggers your key fob usually 1-3 rooms away from whatever wall/door they approach. It then thinks it’s being commended or triggered by the car and steals it’s remote start and unlock/lock trigger commands that it can’t invalidate since too far away to directly with the car to invalidate the keys.

The solution is that apple needs to offer a toggle that if unfriendly airtag detected nearby and following needs to disable or reduce location services if it detects stalking and should entirely be disabled if it detects that same unfriendly airtag is approaching your house/address with your iPhone. Apple could also disable an airtag remotely just disabling its findmy network ID on backend and it won’t be able to remotely track ****, if it’s a repeat abuser apple should do that. Hell apple could train their AI to detect stalking vs non stalking events on the back end and silently disable AirTags if it looks like stalking.. and alert people around that disabled airtag nearby and use caution may have been used to track or stalk. A full toggle to disable all AirTags on your iPhone or Android with findmy app isn’t the solution system it can still be picked up and tracked passively from other iPhones in the airpod seeing its Bluetooth beacon.
 

Gomos

Posts: 73   +115
As a Hellcat/ Jeep SRT owner (primary vehicles being targeted), hearing of the Airtags being used in this manner, truly worried me so I've taken numerous "precautions" and bought many "anti-theft devices" (5.56mm and .50AE) to ensure I never wake up to a missing vehicle.

But the thought of someone slapping these on a child or female to track them, stalk them, harass them disgusts me.
I am amazed at how based on your comments in this forum, we could make an extremely detailed inventory of everything you own.
 

Bp968

Posts: 251   +175
I'm sure the fix Apple will want is "Don't buy android phones"

Even misguided people will say "Just force Apple to comply with an open protocol instead"

The real solution for me is "Super convenient tracking devices shouldn't be on the hands of the general public, full stop"


Genies don't go back into their bottles. If this was like nuclear weapons where its really hard to make then sure it might be possible (at least for a while). But it isn't. Plus this story is getting traction mainly because its apple and it lets the really lowbrow criminal or ***** use it (because its apple). GPS trackers that use 3g/4g networks to call home with location data are commonly available and quite easy to make yourself. They will cost more like 50-100$ but again, thats not much different from 30$. This isn't quantum mechanics or gaseous diffusion enrichment technology.

I mean, the relentless push of technology is getting quite close to pushing centrifuge technology and costs down enough that in the future we might need to worry about non-nationstates being able to enrich nuclear materials.

The Genie doesn't go back into the bottle.
 

hwertz

Posts: 129   +68
Of course what is left unsaid, it is only Apple devices participating in "Find My" and telling creepy stalkers where their AirTags are. If you have an Android device you won't get an AirTag warning but also will not have your phone tell stalkers where the AirTag is.
 
Kinda ironic
People these days barking a lot about privacy concerns
Google, facebook, whatsapp, etc always blamed
Meanwhile apple sometime called the most secure one but they have this trouble xD