Last April, Apple launched AirTags to keep track of your important things and prevent them from going missing. Now, Silent AirTags with a concerning modification are being sold on eBay and Etsy, and stalkers can easily use them to track anyone without them knowing.
Experts have warned everyone to protect themselves from being tracked using Silent AirTags. There ain’t much you can do though. Still, following safety precautions and knowing how to disable these modified (or modded) AirTags is a must, in case you spot on under your car, in your pocket, or anywhere around you.
Before this, AirTags was known as a very useful utility to keep a track of your precious goods. You can even use them to track your kids, pets, and loved ones. A single AirTag costs $29 on Apple’s website, and you can buy a pack of four for $99.
The shocking development of Silent AirTags has made millions of people worried, and you should know why. Find out here.
What are Silent AirTags?
Silent AirTags is a modified version of regular Apple AirTags that has its built-in speaker disabled to prevent it from producing any sound. The makers create a tiny hole at the bottom that disconnects the speaker from the battery.
Earlier, there have also been reports of AirTags covered with a thick sticker to silence its speaker. The Silent AirTags can easily be used by stalkers to track anyone without them knowing. This modification turns the innovation into a potentially stalking device.
How does Silent AirTags work?
Normal AirTags have two built-in features to prevent them from being misused as a stalking device. The first one is the notification pop-up that appears on your Apple device (iPhone, iPad, etc,) after an AirTag is around you for an extended period of time. The second one is the sound that plays on the speaker of AirTags.
This sound allows you to locate the AirTag around you. It triggers automatically when an AirTag is in the range of someone else’s smartphone for a prolonged period of time.
The Silent AirTags mess with this second security function of the device and stop it from producing any sound despite being in the vicinity of anyone’s smartphone for any period of time. This makes it an ideal device for a stalker to track anyone.
AirTags with Disabled Speakers are being sold on eBay and Etsy
Netizens have spotted multiple listings of Silent AirTags on e-commerce platforms like eBay and Etsy. One seller is selling a Silent AirTag for $77.50, which is almost three times the price of a regular AirTag.
Amidst increasing privacy and security concerns, the listings have been taken down now. However, one or two of them are still up, and fresh ones keep popping up every now and then.
According to the sellers, these modified AirTags are not meant to track (or stalk) people. The description on one listing says that they are customized to track your pet dog, cat, or other animals without them being disturbed by the beeping sound.
Why is Silent AirTags a Sign of Worry?
Apple AirTags are designed in a manner that they start beeping, or making a sound, when they are separated from their paired iPhones/iPads for a certain period of time, and in the range of another Apple device. According to Apple, this time is between 8 to 24 hours.
This is the only privacy protection feature in AirTags for people who are not carrying an iPhone or don’t have a smartphone altogether. Silent AirTags have this feature disabled, and this makes them a device to worry about.
Anyone can use them to stalk a person by secretly fitting them AirTag under their car, or into their bag, pocket, or anywhere else where it can’t be spotted. Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation has tweed her thoughts about a similar concern.
Oh look. There is already a secondary market for modified AirTags with the speaker disabled for “stealth mode.” I hate everything so much right now. https://t.co/Y56CusJ4qP
— Eva (@evacide) February 2, 2022
In recent months, AirTags have been increasingly linked to criminal activity such as vehicle thefts and stalking cases. Additionally, over a dozen of women in the U.S. have reported detecting anonymous AirTags fixed on their cars, coats, etc, after leaving public places like bars, movie theatres, and shopping malls.
— AppleInsider (@appleinsider) December 5, 2021
How to Find/Spot a Silent AirTag Tracking you?
Finding or spotting a hidden AirTag can be tricky if it is silent. If you are an iPhone user, you simply need to keep an eye on your device and see if it reports a notification of a mysterious AirTag following you.
However, if you are an Android user, you might end up having a tough time. Apple provides a free Android app known as Tracker Detect that can help you scan for such privacy-intruding AirTags. But, you’ll have to manually do the scan every time you feel suspicious or leave a public place.
There is another free Android app known as AirGuard. The Academic Researchers in Germany have developed it. This app can scan for AirTags continually, and will report it to you once it finds one. However, you can’t use the app to disable it.
Although the simplest way to find or spot an anonymous AirTag is to keep a check on your things, especially your car (and under it) using your eyes.
How to Protect yourself from Silent AirTags?
If you ever find an anonymous AirTag on or around your stuff, you can disable it wireless using your iPhone or iPad, only if the OS version is 15.2 or higher. To do that, go to the “Find My” app. Go to the “Items” tab and then tap on “Items that can track me.”
From there, tap on the “Unknown Items” prompt to scan for nearby AirTags and other Find My-compatible tracking devices. When any device is detected, you can choose the option to turn off tracking.
After that, you can find the AirTag, pull it off, twist its cover, and remove its battery. Later, you should also report the incident to the local police. However, if you are an Android user, you’ll have to do everything manually.
You need to manually spot the AirTag, and remove its battery by twisting off the cover after finding it. Currently, there isn’t an option available to disable it wirelessly on Android.
Apple regularly keeps working to improvise the security and safety of their devices. It’ll be interesting to hear its stand on the recent “Silent AirTags” situation. They definitely need to bring a stable fix for that. Let us know what do you think about it using the comment box.