You can use Apple's AirDrop feature to transfer files, including photos, between devices, but is AirDrop safe?

File sharing is a common practice for anyone using smartphones. You are sending or receiving photos, videos, documents, or other files from someone.

Sharing files with people is not a big deal under normal circumstances. But with the rise in cyber attacks, this has become a cause for concern. Apple's AirDrop, previously thought to be very secure, is being put to the test for a security flaw that puts you at risk. So is AirDrop safe for you?

What is AirDrop?

AirDrop is a file sharing technology that allows users of Apple devices such as iPhone, iPad, and Mac to share files nearby.

AirDrop uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and peer-to-peer WiFi to share files between Apple devices. The bluetooth link will find the device you want to send the file to and the device you are sending from creates a peer-to-peer WiFi connection that connects to the receiving device for transfer.

AirDrop does not require internet or a local Wi-Fi network. Regardless of where you are, you can share files with iOS devices near you.

The lack of a network to share it eliminates the need to use bandwidth, making the size of the file you are sharing irrelevant. Depending on the capacity of the recipient's hardware, you can send large files quickly.

Since AirDrop does not use the Internet but rather Bluetooth, the proximity of both devices affects the success of the transfer. The maximum distance for the transfer is approximately 10 meters or 30 feet. Anything other than this and the transfer will not be successful.

Is AirDrop a security risk?

The security of AirDrop has been questioned according to a report by a group of computer scientists from the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany. The researchers claim that other devices nearby can access your phone number and email address if they want to share files.

During the file sharing process, AirDrop checks the recipient's phone number and email address for authentication. The researchers claimed that any nearby devices could interfere with the connection and gain unauthorized access to your personal information.

Your device doesn't need to be connected to other devices nearby before it can be hacked.

Data shared on AirDrop has privacy – a series of cryptographic measures known as hash functions. However, the researchers criticized the effectiveness of the hash functions and showed that they can be easily compromised using simple techniques such as brute force attacks.

If intruders get access to your phone number and email address, you can fall victim to cyberattacks such as identity theft and phishing.

Related: What Are Brute Force Attacks? How to protect yourself

Is Apple aware of this security risk? The researchers claimed they notified Apple of the problem two years ago, but the company neither acknowledged it nor tried to fix it to the best of our knowledge.

How to secure your AirDrop

Are you concerned about the safety of using AirDrop? Being on the receiving end of a security breach is not a pleasant experience.

If you want to keep using your AirDrop, take the following security measures to protect your device.

Keep AirDrop turned off when not in use

The connectivity of your AirDrop can only be affected when it is switched on. To be on the safe side, make sure that you only turn on your AirDrop when you want to use it.

When you're done using it, turn it off.

Use Contacts Only Mode

The Contacts Only file sharing mode restricts your device to your contacts, while the Everyone file sharing mode opens your device to everyone. Make sure to keep Contacts Only mode when you are in a public space.

Keep your device up to date

As Apple continues to increase the security of its AirDrop, you can protect your device by regularly updating it with the latest settings.

The closer your device, the better

AirDrop is one of the fastest and most convenient ways to share files on iOS devices. Throwing it away is not that easy.

According to the instructions on Apple's website, the company recommends making sure that the person you're sending a file to is on your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connection. If the receiver is near you, it will be easier to connect to, which will reduce the chance of other nearby devices intruding.

The 7 best Android alternatives to AirDrop

If you are an Android owner suffering from a bad case of Apple AirDrop envy, these file transfer apps are perfect for you.

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About the author

Chris Odogwu
(10 articles published)

Chris Odogwu is fascinated by technology and the many ways it can enrich life. As a passionate writer, he is enthusiastic about imparting knowledge through his writing. He has a bachelor's degree in mass communication and a master's degree in public relations and advertising. His favorite hobby is dancing.

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By Chris Odogwu

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