Consumer Alert: Don’t believe the hype. The real risks of Apple’s new update and how to turn it off

Consumer Alert: The real risks of Apple’s new update

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Have you been on social media lately?  Then you’ve likely seen a lot of dire warnings about Apple’s newest iPhone update. The update, iOS 17, has a number of new features, but the one getting the most chatter is called Name Drop.  It allows you to put your iPhone close to another and share only your contact information.

But some folks on social media are saying someone could get information about everyone in your contact list just by being next to you.  For example, one TikTok user who uses the handle @greygalaxie has gone viral with more than 116,000 likes by Wednesday evening.

In the viral video she said, “So, if you have a locker, and it sits next to another iPhone, they can get all of your information. If you’re sitting next to someone on the subway or the bus, they can get all of your information. This is a huge security risk.”

That’s actually not true.  First of all, the phones have to be very close together.  Secondly, you will get a request asking if you want to share your information, and your phone won’t share it unless you approve it.

But I interviewed Luke Secrist, CEO of BuddoBot, a cybersecurity firm.  He’s concerned that a youngster or someone not familiar with the feature could inadvertently share their information with a stranger.

“The concern for me here is folks that aren’t that technologically savvy, teenagers and kids especially — and this was very prevalent when AirDrop first came out — a screen is going to pop up and more times than not, people just want that screen to go away,” said Secrist. “And clicking okay or clicking yes, and attackers know that too, not everyone is going to do that, but it’s a numbers game with attacks.  They’re going to go through and see how many people they can send something to or try to do an exchange and somebody at some time is likely to accept.”

So naturally there are concerns that a predator could try to get your child’s information by holding his phone very closely with the hopes the kiddo will accept without thinking.

This feature is automatically on when you download the update.  It’s up to you to turn it off.  It’s easy.

  • Go to Settings.
  • Tap general.
  • Tap AirDrop.
  • Turn off  “bringing devices together.”

Secrist adds that this feature does not allow someone to get your private information if they’re just passing by. Again, the phones must be very close to each other  But if you’re uncomfortable about the possibility of inadvertently sharing your contact information, simply turn it off.