As you may have seen in the news recently there is a growing form of sexual harassment taking place that utilises a feature found on Apple’s devices called AirDrop.
Apple’s file-sharing technology AirDrop can send photos, videos and documents instantly over a WiFi connection.
To understand how people are abusing this feature, and how you can continue to use AirDrop safely we’ve put together an explainer of how AirDrop works and how to keep yourself protected while using it.
What is AirDrop?
Apple essentially created it as a sequel to the days when the only way we could send photos to each other was over Bluetooth.
For AirDrop to work, both devices must have both their Bluetooth and WiFi turned on and be within roughly 30 feet of each other and be able to maintain a constant connection.
Once the device has been found using Bluetooth, it then uses your iPhone’s WiFi to either wirelessly send or receive the file.
Now while a person can never send you a photo or file without you first having to accept it, you will always be sent a preview of that content first even if it’s of an image you didn’t want to receive.
How to turn AirDrop off or setting it to ‘Contacts Only’
AirDrop is turned off by default. That means if this is the first you’re hearing of it and you own an Apple device there’s absolutely no way that anyone can try and send you an unwanted photo or video using it.
To find out if AirDrop is off or on simply go to the home screen on your iPhone and swipe up from the bottom. You’ll see the Control Centre along with your current AirDrop status.
AirDrop has three settings: Off, Contacts Only and Everyone.
Off: This is the default setting, no-one can send you anything and you can’t send anyone anything.
Contacts Only: This makes you visible only to people who are in your contacts list and have Apple devices. As long as you trust everyone in your contacts list this is without doubt the safest way to use AirDrop and it’s the only setting we would recommend using.
Everyone: This makes you visible to everyone so use with extreme caution. Use only when around people you trust and for transfers with people you trust.
Of course the easiest way to protect yourself from unwanted images, links or files is to simply keep it turned off. Then you can turn it on whenever you need to send anything.
If, however, you find yourself using it a lot then we would recommend keeping it set to Contacts Only. This makes sure that only people you know and trust can send you requests.