An AirTag clone manages to bypass Apple’s anti-stalking measures

Some researchers have cloned “AirTag” Of Apple in order to demonstrate to the company that the security features can be bypassed. To provide evidence for this claim, the researcher Fabian Braunlein Of “Positive Security” produced a cloned AirTag, which was able to track an iPhone user for over five days without triggering any tracking notifications.

The researcher has in fact circumvented some elements that according to Apple are used to identify an AirTag. First, the unique serial number associated with an Apple ID: in fact the clone does not use any serial number (neither for hardware nor for software). Even on privacy, the researcher expressed some doubts. Apple, in fact, wants to identify specific AirTags over time to distinguish the tags that travel with the user from a simply passing one.

During this example, it was used a list of over 2,000 preloaded public keys, with a transmission from the clone every 30 seconds. In detail, the clone was based on firmware ESP32 which often rotated public keys, sending one periodically, with the list repeated every 17 hours.

Also, using an irreversible derivation function and overwriting the seed with the output of the next round would make it impossible for law enforcement or Apple to obtain public keysand previously transmitted of the tag, even if they have physical access to the clone. During the tests, among other things, no Android app, just like no iPhone, was able to find the cloned AirTag. Only “AirGuard” was able to report the cloned device.

In any case, through this experiment, the expense researcher that Apple makes changes to both network security and privacyespecially to limit any episodes of stalking caused by the use of AirTag.

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