Does turning on AirDrop compromise privacy? In 2014, Apple introduced the AWDL (AppleWirelessDirectLink) protocol, which is the “heart” of Apple’s ecosystem for inter-device communication, relying on AirPlay, AirDrop and Sidecar.
Hackers were able to break into the iPhone by exploiting a vulnerability in the AWDL protocol.
AWDL is activated by Bluetooth, and when a user uses Bluetooth, it activates the AWDL interface on all surrounding Apple devices, stealing user information through a protocol vulnerability. Many users turn off Bluetooth when they are done using it, but this is not difficult for hackers, who can force the AWDL on in other ways.
Since the wireless chip can only work on one channel at a time, AWDL uses frequency hopping techniques to jump to the working channel of the en0 interface and the working channel of the awdl0 interface at different timeslots. In addition, each time the awdl0 interface is activated, a new randomly generated MAC address is used. Next, a hacker can gain full access to your iPhone, read emails and other important information at will, or download photos from your iPhone, and possibly even monitor and listen to users through the iPhone’s microphone and camera.
What’s troubling is that the protocol vulnerability involves almost all Apple products that have the AWDL protocol, and once a hacker breaks into your iPhone, it means your other Apple devices will have a hard time escaping as well. Fortunately, Apple closed this vulnerability with a system update as early as May of this year.
How can you prevent your device from being compromised?
- Add a physical barrier to your device
For example, the microphone and camera of laptops and other devices are not used very often, so you can use black tape to seal them and open them up when you use them, and there are also free push-pull camera shields for sale on online shopping platforms, which are much more convenient and beautiful than black tape.
- Disable microphone and camera privileges in private places
For example, some smart speakers with microphones and cameras, placed in the bedroom, it is best to disable access. If you have to put a smart camera in a private place, you can buy one with physical masking so that you can pull down the mask when you don’t want to use the camera.
- Turn off the features you don’t use when possible
It’s best to turn off features like Bluetooth or AirDrop when you’re done using them to make it more difficult for your device to be “hacked”.