Jan 4, 2022
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Apple AirTag: Absolutely Awful, Say Stalking Victims

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Apple is under renewed flak for its AirTags—and how they make life easy for stalkers and carjackers. A tsunami of anecdata shows Cupertino’s location tracker toy being misused by criminals.
Happy new year, car thieves and creepy stalkers—what a time to be alive. We touched on this last month, when we ripped Apple a new one for its awful Android app. But is this criticism of Apple fair, or is there a systemic problem with all IoT tracker devices?
Slow news week or genuine concern? In today’s SB Blogwatch, we chew the fat.
Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: USP21.
What’s the craic? Ryan Mac and Kashmir Hill report—“Are Apple AirTags Being Used to Track People and Steal Cars?”:
Widespread problem
An AirTag is a 1.26-inch disc with location-tracking capabilities that Apple started selling earlier this year as a way “to keep track of your stuff.” … In recent months, people have posted on TikTok, Reddit and Twitter about finding AirTags on their cars and in their belongings.

There is growing concern that the devices may be abetting a new form of stalking, which privacy groups predicted. [We] spoke with seven women who believe they were tracked with AirTags, including a 17-year-old. … Researchers now believe AirTags … could be revealing a more widespread problem of tech-enabled tracking.

Apple does not disclose sales figures, but the tiny $29 AirTags have proved popular, selling out consistently. … An Apple spokesman, Alex Kirschner, said in a statement that the company takes customer safety “very seriously.”

Is this news though? Collin Woodard adds—“Another Driver Finds An Apple AirTag Tracking His Car’s Location”:
Happening more frequently
A lot of times, news stories about new crime trends turn out to be fake or at the very least overblown. But it’s starting to look like there actually is a real trend of people using Apple AirTags to track cars they plan to steal later.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of AirTags being used by potential car thieves, either. It’s reportedly happening more frequently in the Detroit metro area, as well as in other cities such as Austin, Texas. Ontario, Canada has also reported at least five similar incidents in the last couple of months.

Okay, let’s bash Apple for another AirTag failing. Not so fast, says newbamboo:
Blaming Apple for this seems counterproductive. It’s Bluetooth that’s the problem. Why [not] report on the security risks of Bluetooth?

I know, right? The same is true with other trackers, such as Tile. wright_is is_right: [You’re fired—Ed.]
Dumb criminal
At least the iPhones warn you, and they have an app for Android as well, if you are being tracked. [And] it is possible for the police to trace them back to the owner.

If I was going to track and steal something, I wouldn’t want to do it using something that makes its presence known and is registered to me. Sounds like a dumb criminal.

And u/The_Multifarious agrees:
Give a stalker a shot
You gotta be an absolute criminal brick-for-brains to use an AirTag—the least discreet way to go about this. AirTags will literally scream out their position to unsuspecting people, both via Phone Connectivity as well as via Sound, unlike the dozens of other brands which might actually give a stalker a shot at accomplishing their goal.

There are better options? (Asking for a criminal friend.) timholman, expands on the theme:
Only a few dollars more
Anyone who owns and uses AirTags can tell you that they simply aren’t that useful for continuous tracking. The updates aren’t that frequent. If a stalker or a professional thief wanted to track you, it would be much simpler to purchase a GPS tracker and a burner phone with cash.

These trackers are sold by a multitude of companies, come in weatherproof magnetic cases that attach under a car bumper, cost only a few dollars more than an AirTag, and will provide minute-by-minute location updates.

This is why we can’t have nice things. So says SchwarzeEwigkt:
The whole concept really depends on people acting decently. While a noble idea, I think that if we’ve learned anything over time, people suck a lot more than they probably ought to.

In a similar vein, here’s christianwilson:
We ruin everything
My feeling about much of our modern world is that we have amazing technologies but are not mature enough as a species to handle it. … I hate sounding negative, but … we ruin everything.

How best to use them to protect your own stuff from theft? u/Volkswaggger opens the kimono:
By taking the AirTag apart
I disabled the speaker of my AirTag before installing it in a very hidden place on my motorcycle. If I hadn’t done that, thieves could trigger the AirTag to play a noise and find it quite easily.

I removed the speaker manually by taking the AirTag apart. You can find videos of people doing it on YouTube.

Meanwhile, what should you do if you find one on your car? PPH has this suggestion:
Stick it onto one of the FBI’s pool vehicles. They really, Really, REALLY don’t like being followed by unknown ****heads.

See ya, 2021
Previously in And Finally
You have been reading SB Blogwatch by Richi Jennings. Richi curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites … so you don’t have to. Hate mail may be directed to @RiCHi or [email protected]. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE. 30.
Image sauce: Heidi Fin (via Unsplash)
Richi Jennings is a foolish independent industry analyst, editor, and content strategist. A former developer and marketer, he’s also written or edited for Computerworld, Microsoft, Cisco, Micro Focus, HashiCorp, Ferris Research, Osterman Research, Orthogonal Thinking, Native Trust, Elgan Media, Petri, Cyren, Agari, Webroot, HP, HPE, NetApp on Forbes and CIO.com. Bizarrely, his ridiculous work has even won awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors, ABM/Jesse H. Neal, and B2B Magazine.
richi has 312 posts and counting.See all posts by richi

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