Apple’s AirTag Launch Called ‘Shameful’ by EFF Cybersecurity Director
In a recent interview with National Public Radio, Eva Galperin, Director of Cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), said the selection of security and privacy safeguards Apple chose to bring the AirTag to market with last year was “shameful” (via Apple 3.0: Philip Elmer‑DeWitt).
Apple launched the AirTag for $29 USD ($39 CAD) in April of last year as a tracking device to help customers locate items using the company’s Find My network, which boasts over one billion Apple devices globally.
However, it wasn’t long before reports of Apple’s coin-sized tracking devices being used to track unwitting individuals, cars, and other valuables started to surface.
Last month, a stalker trailed Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooks Nader around New York City for nearly five hours after slipping an AirTag into her coat pocket. There have also been several reports of Apple’s AirTags being used to mark and track cars for theft.
“I was concerned ahead of their release as soon as I figured out how they worked. I was concerned very shortly after they were released when I started seeing reports of stalking and being contacted by people who were being stalked using these devices,” Galperin told NPR.
“The mitigations that Apple had in place at the time that the AirTag came out were woefully insufficient.”
To Apple’s credit, the tech giant has constantly monitored the situation and made improvements to its system accordingly.
Since launching the AirTags, the company has introduced a slew of changes and safeguards designed to dissuade ill-intentioned use of the devices and ensure the safety and privacy of not only its users but the general public as well. The latest of these improvements are due to ship in an upcoming software update.
“I think that Apple has been very careful and responsive after putting the product out and introducing new mitigations. But the fact that they chose to bring the product to market in the state that it was in last year, is shameful,” Galperin concluded.
Earlier this month, Galperin also expressed concern over ‘Silent AirTags’ — AirTags that have been modified to remove the speakers and disable one of Apple’s core anti-stalking safeguards — that are being sold on platforms like eBay and Etsy for as much as $80 each.