Bluetooth trackers, including Apple’s AirTag and all the Tiles, are great little tools for helping you find your lost keys or remote. Regrettably, they can also be easily slipped in a bag or affixed on a car for the purpose of stalking. Apple has released a number of AirTag updates to limit this probability, as well as an app for Android users that allows them manually search for rogue AirTags, but that doesn’t change the fact that these tiny $30 trackers can still be used in nefarious ways.
Luckily, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself against Bluetooth tracker stalking. We’ve created a basic guide to help you assess your risk, know what to look for, and disable any foreign Bluetooth tracker you may find.
Consider Your Risk Profile and Create a Safety Plan
Technology-facilitated abuse is the utilization of any technical methods to coerce, stalk, or harass someone else. Based on the CDC’s latest data, 16% of women and 3.7% of men have been victims of stalking in their life time. You can find caveats here though: This record doesn’t different physical stalking versus cyberstalking, and it premiered prior to Apple’s popular AirTag to enter the market. Obviously, technology has transformed significantly since that time, so there’s a good likelihood these amount don’t accurately reveal the current condition of cyberstalking.
Although anyone could possibly be the target of the cyberstalker via an AirTag, Tile, or a huge selection of different tracking apps, certain groups seem to be more susceptible than others. There is certainly little data related to stalking using Bluetooth trackers specifically, but we can extrapolate predicated on existing stalking and technology-facilitated abuse. While this list is by no means comprehensive, you may want to take extra precautions if you fall into any of the following groups:
Women between the ages of 18 and 24 and survivors of intimate partner violence are far more likely be stalked.
LGBTQ+ people are more vulnerable to stalking than the general population, according to SPARC, the Stalking Prevention and Awareness Resource Center. BIPOC teens and young adults, as well as active duty service users who identify as LGBT have a higher risk factor in this group.
Journalists, especially local TV news reporters, are more likely to be the victims of technology-facilitated abuse and stalking. Amanda Hess, critic-at-large for The New York Times, discusses her own experience with harassment and stalking by a man convicted of murder, and how the police failed to take the issue seriously. Hess writes, “None of this makes me exceptional. It makes me a woman with an Internet connection,” before going on to discuss the experiences of other female journalists and bloggers.
Activists, dissidents, and human rights advocates are also more likely to be the targets of technology-facilitated abuse, especially in countries with with poor human rights records. The United Nations Human Rights Office offers resources and an overview of more specific threats for people in this group.
If you fall into any of these groups, head to the Technology Security website to create a security plan and find advocates and other resources.
Regularly Inspect Your Belongings
AirTag and Tile trackers are small, making them easy to cover. Below are a few common places to look to ensure you are not being monitored, and ways to make your daily life a bit more tracker-proof.
Bags, Luggage, and Purses
Take a short while to clear your tote and pockets every day. Check to ensure all the seams arein tact and also you don’t feel any awkward lumps or hard surfaces. Trackers like the Tile Thin are thin enough to be easily placed under the lining at the bottom of a bag where interfacing or foam are used to help it maintain its shape, making the tracker less visible.
Stick to hand bags and purses that have zippers or magnetic enclosures. If you carry a backpack or other bag with plenty of side pouches, consider using iron-on hem tape to permanently seal them, or use inexpensive snap-style buttons to make them harder to open. If you have a leather bag or simply don’t want to deal with securing the side compartments, a dry cleaner can simply add snaps and sew pouches shut or even remove them.
If you’re journeying, use an FAA-approved luggage lock and carefully check your bag and all of its material when you leave and arrive. Keep the luggage locked when you leave your room, and check the pouches of any items you send out to be laundered or pressed.
If you are using a PO package or lease a mailbox, open up all your email before returning home. Be especially careful of containers or unknown envelopes as these can contain Bluetooth trackers. Remove and inspect all the packaging material for containers and, when possible, get rid of your garbage before you leave the building.
If you reside in a rural area, don’t possess carrier delivery, or demand General Delivery service, never leave the postoffice until you’ve checked and inspected all your mail. In these circumstances, a stalker and also require a concept of where you are can send a bundle via General Delivery and it’ll reach your postoffice. If you wait around to open up your email until you go back home, the individual could probably find out your home address.
Bikes and Cars
If you trip a bike, take the time to check on under the saddle to ensure a tracker hasn’t been affixed to it.
Unfortunately, there are several places to cover trackers on vehicles, but it’s well worth checking behind permit plates, the starting between your hood and windscreen, in the steering wheel wells, and along the lower of leading and back bumpers.
How to Search for Bluetooth Trackers
If an AirTag is traveling with an unregistered person, it’ll start to chirp. If you own an iPhone with iOS 14.5 or later, you’ll also get an notify on your telephone. The AirTag will start to chirp between 8 and a day following the tracker is separated from its signed up user; inside our exams, it will happen eventually. If you touch your mobile phone against the AirTag, you’ll receive its serial amount and information about how to disable it.
If you discover an AirTag that doesn’t participate in you and you don’t own an iPhone, you can touch it against any phone’s NFC audience to get the serial amount and instructions about how to disable it. It’s important to keep an eye on the serial amount, since Apple works together with law enforcement throughout the world to aid in cyberstalking situations. Apple also offers a Tracker Detect application in the Google Play Store which allows you to personally seek out AirTags using Google android phones.
Unfortunately, finding a stray Tile tracker isn’t quite as effortless. A couple of no audible alerts for Tiles that are separated using their owners for extended periods of time, and as of this writing, the company doesn’t offer an option to by hand scan for trackers-though it says the Tile app will be updated in early 2022 to include a scanning feature.
Macworld recommends BLE Scanner for Android users and Bluetooth BLE Device Finder on iOS to manually check out for trackers. It’s well worth noting that if you live in an apartment, have roommates, or simply own a lot of tech gear, you may find dozens of Bluetooth devices in range with common names.
How to Disable Bluetooth Trackers
Again, AirTags are just a little easier to offer with because you can touch them against your mobile phone and get instructions about how to disable them. If a mobile phone doesn’t have NFC, disabling an AirTag continues to be very easy. Just place the tracker between your fingertips, rotate the sterling silver back somewhat to open up it, and take away the battery.
Apart from the Tile Pro, it’s impossible to eliminate the battery from all of those other current Tile tracker lineup. Don’t try to break or crush the tracker, as the electric battery can burst and cause serious accidents.
Tile trackers rely on Bluetooth’s limited range and on other users on the Tile network to find devices. If you discover an urgent Tile tracker in your handbag, you can significantly degrade its range by putting the tracker in a refrigerator handbag or jar or drinking water. After achieving this, you may take it to the neighborhood authorities and document a police report, or simply dispose of it in a public garbage can that’s not near your house.