Apple AirTags used by thieves to track and steal cars

Presented last April at the Apple event, the AirTags immediately attracted the attention of users , presenting themselves as one of the most interesting news of the year. The devices, which arrived on the market a few days after the event, are used to find different objects and avoid losing them by locating them on a map. Like all modern devices, however, they are not exempt from security problems ; the latter sees them linked to an increase in car thefts.

How do Apple's AirTags work?

The time when we used to waste things is over (or almost). Apple's AirTags give a hand to those who have the bad habit of forgetting where they put their keys, cell phone or whatever . Each device, with a diameter of 3 cm, can be hooked to keys or any other object to allow its location and avoid losing it.

Apple's AirTags help locate any lost items. Credits: Apple
Apple's AirTags help locate any lost items. Credits: Apple

Leaning on Apple's Where 's app, AirTags send their position thanks to the integrated tracker , allowing you to view the location of your personal items on a map. The devices also have a small speaker that helps locate what is missing, allowing us to follow the sound. The function is very convenient if you are looking for something in the house, while in open spaces you can always use the “Precise position” function which guides you to where the object is.

AirTags use Bluetooth technology to send a signal to devices with the Where is application installed , communicating data anonymously and encrypted. The signal can be detected by any nearby device; if an object is lost, when a nearby device detects and the AirTag sends a notification to the owner. You can also share your contact information when someone touches the AirTag , so you can be notified by anyone who finds the lost item. A mechanism that would only work in an ideal world.

The rise of car thefts

The Apple device works so well that even thieves have decided to exploit it . According to reports from the Canadian police, since the release of the AirTags there has been an increase in car thefts in the country, especially for luxury vehicles.

Car thieves, in fact, would use AirTags to track cars and follow them to the home garage or otherwise quiet and isolated places. The device is placed in non-visible places in the car , for example inside the chassis. Following the position of the AirTag, the thieves follow the driver to his home or a private place where they can act undisturbed.

Attempting to steal a car in a parking lot or public place is a much more difficult undertaking than stealing a garage; for this reason, thieves use the device to identify a "safer" place to carry out the theft. This mechanism could benefit not only car thieves, but in general any malicious person who wants to locate the home of someone in particular, reaching it at a later time, without attracting attention.

How to protect yourself

When a device moves away from its owner, an alert is sent to the closest devices that support the technology. This was done to discourage unwanted tracking by alerting those with an AirTag in the vicinity of its presence.

Currently, however, AirTag is designed to send an alert to devices no earlier than 8 hours after loss ; a decidedly sufficient period to carry out a theft and locate the home of the victim. In addition, notifications are often not displayed correctly, or are not even sent. By leaving the car in the driveway or garage and then returning to the house, you effectively lose the ability to locate the AirTag via Bluetooth.

The problem, for now, has only been reported in York, Canada, but that doesn't mean that car thieves from other parts of the world haven't already taken steps to exploit Apple technology in this way. How to protect yourself then? Until Apple releases security updates that can stem the problem and reduce it, you have to do it the old way , protecting cars with more advanced security systems and frequently checking for the presence of any extraneous devices.

The Apple AirTag article used by thieves to track and steal cars comes from Tech CuE | Close-up Engineering .