BostonScience, Tech & Medicine

Beware the iOS 17.1 'NameDrop' Menace, Massachusetts Police Caution iPhone Users of Privacy Snafu

Beware the iOS 17.1 'NameDrop' Menace, Massachusetts Police Caution iPhone Users of Privacy SnafuSource: Unsplash/ Szabo Viktor
Benjamin Cortez
Published on November 27, 2023

A new feature in Apple's iOS 17.1 update has police departments across Massachusetts sounding the alarm, warning iPhone users about a potential privacy pitfall that's activated by default. According to CBS Boston, the "NameDrop" function could put personal information at risk, enabling a seamless swap of contact details between users just by holding their devices close to each other.

Massachusetts law enforcement agencies in Dighton and Andover have taken to social media to alert the community, especially parents, about the possible dangers tied to the NameDrop feature. “If you have an iPhone and have done the recent Apple iOS 17 update, they have set a new feature called NameDrop defaulted to ON. This feature allows the sharing of your contact info just by bringing your phones close together,” the Dighton Police posted, calling for parents to revise and adjust their kids’ gadgets accordingly.

While this convenience might sound appealing, experts warn it could potentially provide easy pickings for predators. Alan Crowetz, a tech and cybersecurity expert, spoke with CBS Philadelphia about the feature's dark side. "If a stranger walks by your child and gets their contact information," Crowetz elucidated, "They have their email, and we've seen how the bad guys, the pedophiles, and whatnot really take advantage of email, phone number for texting—they really take advantage of that. And God forbid, they decided to use the home address to visit or stalk even deeper. From a cybersecurity point, this is a major red flag."

To turn off NameDrop, users must navigate to Settings, then tap "General," followed by "AirDrop," where they can toggle "Bringing Devices Together" to off. This process is crucial, and police urge families to ensure it is completed on all Apple products post-haste. Boston 25 News emphasizes the simplicity of inadvertently sharing too much. “If you have an iPhone and have done the recent iOS 17 update, they have set a new feature called NameDrop defaulted to ON. This feature allows the sharing of your contact info just by bringing your phones close together,” a directive echoed across community police notices, highlighting just how effortless it is to give away personal details.

The diligence of police departments and cybersecurity professionals underscores the evolving nature of digital threats and the continuous need for vigilance when it comes to privacy. As tech companies roll out innovative features, the dynamic between convenience and security becomes ever more delicate, and Apple's NameDrop feature is the latest example to land on law enforcement radars, as Boston 25 News noted

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