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Chinese Institution Claims Successful Breach of Apple AirDrop Encryption

A Beijing State-Backed Organization Claims to Identify Senders, Sparking Concerns Over Privacy and Security

NEWS  Security  January 10, 2024  Reading time: 2 Minute(s)

mdo Max (RS editor)

A state-backed institution in Beijing claims to have successfully cracked the encryption of Apple's widely used AirDrop feature. The technique purportedly allows the organization to identify the phone numbers and email addresses of users who share content through AirDrop, raising significant concerns about user privacy and the security of this popular iOS feature.

Apple iDrop

Understanding Apple AirDrop and its Encryption

Apple's AirDrop has long been hailed as a convenient and secure method for Apple device owners to share documents, images, and other files seamlessly. The feature utilizes end-to-end encryption, ensuring that the shared content remains secure during the transfer process. Users simply need to be in close proximity to another device with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and AirDrop enabled to share files securely.

The Alleged Breach and its Implications

According to a report from Bloomberg, the Chinese organization in Beijing claims to have discovered a technique to identify AirDrop users who send messages. This development comes as part of China's broader effort to eliminate content it deems undesirable. Notably, AirDrop was extensively used by activists during the 2019 Hong Kong protests to share pro-democracy content.

 The institution asserts that this technique has already been employed by the police to identify multiple suspects. However, the specifics about whether any arrests have been made remain undisclosed. The organization contends that the technique enhances the efficiency and accuracy of case-solving while preventing the dissemination of inappropriate remarks and potential negative influences.

Chinese military using PCs

Potential Ramifications and Apple's Response

The revelation of a potential breach in AirDrop's encryption raises concerns about the privacy and security of Apple device users, both within and beyond China. Activists and individuals relying on AirDrop for secure communication may find themselves vulnerable to unwanted surveillance.

As of now, Apple has not responded to requests for comment on the matter, leaving users and cybersecurity experts eager to learn about the company's stance and potential countermeasures. The company's approach to addressing this alleged breach will likely have far-reaching implications for the perceived security of its products.

The purported cracking of Apple AirDrop's encryption by a Chinese state-backed organization highlights the ongoing challenges in balancing user privacy, security, and government scrutiny. As the situation unfolds, users and tech enthusiasts alike will be closely monitoring Apple's response and the potential measures the tech giant may implement to address these security concerns. The incident underscores the ever-evolving landscape of digital security and the need for continuous vigilance in safeguarding user information in an interconnected world.




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