Police and law enforcement agencies across the United States have issued security and privacy warnings to iPhone users about the ‘NameDrop’ feature in the latest iOS update.
NameDrop, which was released with iOS17 and watchOS 10, allows users to quickly share their contact information with a nearby iPhone or Apple Watch.
While NameDrop makes it easy and quick to share your information with your friends or acquaintances who use an iPhone, police departments are sounding security alarms about the feature.
Law Enforcement Officials Say “NameDrop” Is a Privacy and Security Concern
The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office took to Facebook on Thanksgiving weekend to state that the feature could lead to iPhone owners unintentionally sharing their personal contact information with other people.
The police department said that NameDrop is turned on by default on iPhones that have installed the latest version of iOS. A warning was issued to parents that kids who have an iPhone could be in particular danger as the feature could lead to them unknowingly sharing their contact information with another iPhone by simply being next to it.
The Police also insisted on switching off the feature on children’s iPhones that have been updated to iOS17.1.
Police Departments in Carmi, Illinois; Middletown, Ohio; Watertown, Connecticut; Jefferson Hills, Pennsylvania and Fort Smith, Arkansas were among the agencies that issued warnings about NameDrop.
However, digital security experts described the warnings as pure “hysteria” and “nonsense”.
Is NameDrop Really A Security Threat?
While there is some truth to the matter in the idea that a stalker or other bad actors could access an iPhone user’s contact details using NameDrop, it is really half the truth. In such a scenario, that person could only get the contact data if they have complete access to the victim’s unlocked iPhone.
But in actuality, NameDrop does not simply share your contact details with just any person with an iPhone that passes by you on the street. For the feature to work, two iPhones running iOS17 need to be in close proximity to each other, in a way that they touch each other at the very top for its built-in Near Field Communication (NFC) to work.
Once a connection has been established through NFC, both iPhones will get a set of NameDrop options for receiving and sharing each other’s details. If one user selects the receive option, they will get the other’s shareable details, and if both opt for the share option then a contact data swap is initiated by the smartphone.
The contact data that is being shared by your iPhone is contained within a ‘contact card’ that you created earlier. This means that you have complete control over the information that will be shared.
In case you want to abort the sharing process, all you have to do is move your iPhone away from the other or lock your device before the NameDrop transfer is completed.
How To Turn Off NameDrop On Your iPhone?
To turn off NameDrop on your iPhone, go to settings > general > AirDrop and toggle the green button next to “Start Sharing By Bringing Devices Together”.
The green section should turn gray when NameDrop is switched off.
All iPhones running iOS17 or later, encompassing models from iPhone XR and newer, including the second and third-generation iPhone SE, up to the latest iPhone 15 series support NameDrop.