A surprising number of police departments and other security agencies are issuing warnings about Apple's new NameDrop feature in the latest version of its iPhone operating system. Here, for example, is what the Oakland County Sheriff's Office in California had to say:
IPHONE PRIVACY INFORMATION
If you have an iPhone and have completed the recent iOS 17 update, they have set a feature called “NameDrop” to default to ON after completing the update.
This feature allows you to share your contact information by being next to another iphone. In that section, you can also limit who can be the recipient of your AirDrop.
To shut this off go to Settings, General, AirDrop, Bringing Devices Together. Change to OFF.
And yes, we know that it allows you to share it and you can refuse but many people do not check their settings and realize how their phone works. This particular setting defaults to on rather than have you opt in. And again, it is the area where you also decide who can access AirDrop.
PARENTS: Don’t forget to change these settings after the update on your children’s phones as well.
In response to all these warnings, multiple media and technology resources are claiming that the threat isn't as bad as it seems, and is being overblown. However, I want to know why the feature is switched on in the first place. Surely, if it was in any way concerned about security, Apple should have installed the new version of its operating system with the feature switched off, so that users would have to make an informed, conscious decision to turn it on, in full awareness of any security risk that might result? That, to me, would be the mature, sensible way to do it. However, I'm not Apple, and the company clearly doesn't see it that way.
Fortunately, I don't have to worry about this particular feature, because I don't use an iPhone. However, I'm sure someone will bring out something similar for Android phones in the not too distant future . . . so all of us in the non-Apple cellphone universe should learn from this, and be on our guard.