The introduction of AirTags to the market was a big deal, and the possibilities of new technology excited many people. Shoppers were eager to get their hands on the latest tech that promised to make their lives easier.
No more lost keys when you’re running late for work? Great!
Apple designed the AirTag to make life easier for their customers. The technology can help people keep track of their belongings but…
There are always two sides to every story. While AirTags can be helpful, they can also be used for more nefarious purposes. I’ll tell you more about that soon. But first…
What is an Apple AirTag?
Apple AirTags are small, round, battery-powered devices that can be placed on just about anything. Once affixed, the AirTag can track the location of the item it is attached to using Apple's “Find My” network.
The “Find My” network is Apple's way of helping people track and find their lost devices. The system uses a combination of Bluetooth and ultra-wideband (UWB) technology to triangulate the location of a lost device. Apple AirTags leverage this same technology to help people keep track of their belongings.
And those who use Samsung smartphones don’t have to miss out on the helpful tracking device. Samsung SmartTags are similar to AirTags, making any personal item trackable — keys, suitcase, purse, water bottle, or anything else that is often misplaced.
Technology to Improve Our Lives
Apple designed the AirTag to help people keep track of their belongings, and the technology does just that. For example, let’s say you misplaced your keys. You can activate the Find My app on your iPhone and see that your keys are in the couch cushions. The AirTag attached to your key chain will show up on your phones map, and you can use the app to make the tag play the locating sound.
This is just one example of how Apple AirTags can be used for good. This technology can help make life a little easier.
However, there is another side to the story…
The Dark Side of New Tech
A good thing is only good for so long. As various police reports and news stories have shown us, criminals began using the new technology for reasons other than finding a lost wallet.
As we get caught up in the excitement of the new device and the negative aspects never cross our minds.
Some people started using AirTags to stalk and track other people and their belongings, such as their cars, without their knowledge. It is possible for stalkers to track someone's movements with the AirTag by placing it on their belongings and using the Apple “Find My” app. This is a serious invasion of privacy, and it can be very dangerous for the victim.
New tech can help us in our daily lives, but it’s important to be aware of the malicious uses. We must stay informed and pay attention to the news to learn about these new dangers.
In recent months, there have been reports of cars being stolen after thieves placed AirTags somewhere on the vehicle. The AirTags make it easy to remotely track any vehicle the thieves choose.
Your car could be in the grocery store parking lot. While you’re shopping, a criminal decides your car is a great target.
AirTags are magnetic, making it easy to place them behind a license plate or under the car.
Your car’s location will be readily available on the iPhone connected to the AirTag. Once the criminal decides it’s time, they can follow their phone’s directions right to your vehicle when it’s parked in a more private location, like your driveway. The thief will have ample time to complete the job while you are asleep late into the night.
A thief is less likely to be caught on camera in your driveway than in a public parking lot. Fewer witnesses too.
There have also been reports of people being stalked by someone who has placed an AirTag on their clothing or in their bag. It is easy for someone to drop an AirTag in an open shopping bag or purse — allowing the stalker to track the victim's location and see where they are at all times.
In one case, a woman in San Francisco was being tracked by her ex-boyfriend, who had placed an Apple AirTag in her purse. He would receive notifications on his iPhone whenever she left her home or entered a new location. He was eventually arrested and charged with stalking.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
This is all very unsettling, but there are ways to protect yourself.
In order to help keep people safe from being tracked, iPhone sends an alert to the smartphone closest to an AirTag that seems to be following them. Both AirTags and SmartTags notify those being tracked with a “Unknown Tag Search” notification.
It is important to take notice of these notifications, as it is usually the only way the victim notices the tracking devices. If you are the one who placed the AirTag, there isn't a cause for concern, but if you didn't, check it out to make sure it isn't being used to track you or your vehicle.
In the case of stolen vehicles, law enforcement recommends using a visual deterrent in your vehicle, such as a dashboard camera or a steering wheel lock.
The AirTags also play a sound when their location is being tracked. However, if the tag is on your car or you live in a loud urban area, you may not hear the sound. If you have never used an AirTag, listen to the sound the tracker makes, so you will recognize it if you hear it. You can find videos on YouTube that will familiarize you with the sounds played by an AirTag.
But be aware — some criminals have figured out how to silence the AirTags so they cannot be detected by sound.
There is an App called “Tracker Detect” that can detect trackers such as Apple AirTags and Galaxy SmartTags. The app uses the smartphone’s Bluetooth to scan for devices that might be tracking you and will alert you if it finds one nearby.
You can also use Apple's “Find My” app to check if there are any AirTags hidden on your person or in your belongings.
Open the “Find My” app and tap the “Devices” tab. Select your devices and tap “Actions.” Tap “Play Sound” if you're using iOS 14.5 or later, then follow the sound to find your device.
What Should You Do If You Find An AirTag?
Law enforcement encourages the public to remove the battery from the device as soon as possible. A small watch battery powers the trackers. Then take the device into a police station where an officer may be able to get fingerprints to identify who planted the tracker.
AirTags are anonymous so that individuals can’t see who an item belongs to, but Apple keeps track of the Apple ID used to register an AirTag. Law enforcement can work to locate the person associated with the Apple ID.
The Duality of New Tech
When used properly by someone with good intentions, Apple AirTags are a great way to keep track of your belongings. But, unfortunately, technology is a double-edged sword. It has the power to improve our lives, but it can also be used for evil purposes. It is important that we remain vigilant against the dangers posed by new technology.
Apple AirTags are a great example of why we must be cautious. Criminals can easily use the technology for malicious purposes. The best way to protect yourself is to be diligent and aware of your surroundings. If you think you are being followed or tracked, go to a safe place and call the police.
Technology can be both a blessing and a curse. We must be ever vigilant in order to protect ourselves from the dangers that come with it.
CEO of One Step Secure IT