AirTags Have a Built-In Anti-Stalking System
Apple’s AirTags are a convenient way to keep track of your various items, but they can also pose a security risk. Let’s take a look at how Apple designed a system to protect the public against would-be AirTag stalkers.
Let’s start with what AirTags do. AirTags are small trackers, about the size of a quarter, that use Apple’s “Find My” network to keep tabs on your belongings. You can pop them in a backpack, attach them to your keys, even put one on your dog’s collar. The tracker then looks for any device with an internet connection that is also a part of the Find My network, most likely iPhones.
When an AirTags makes a connection with a Find My device, it uses that device’s internet connection to update its location. That way, you can see it on your Find My app, and know the location you see is the last time the AirTag was near a Find My-enabled device.
That’s excellent for avoiding losing personal belongings, but poses some privacy challenges. Chief among those challenges is stalking; it seems far too easy for a bad actor to sneak an AirTag into someone’s bag, or place on someone’s car, all the while being able to track their moves from the victim’s own iPhone or Find My device.
Luckily, Apple has a security feature to fight this threat. If your iPhone notices an AirTag that is disconnected from its owner in your vicinity for an extended period of time, it will send you an alert letting you know. This alert won’t appear if the owner of the AirTag is nearby, since you’d be notified any time you took a drive with a friend with an AirTag. It only appears when the AirTag can’t communicate with its owner, and is with you for a while.
If you receive one of these alerts, you can try to force the AirTag to make a sound in order to find it. To do so, tap on the alert, tap “Continue” then “Play Sound.”
For more information about Apple’s anti-stalker technology for AirTags and other Find My devices, check out the official support page here.