Remember the days when we could share our favourite MP3s and photos via Bluetooth and Infra Red transfers?
One of the downfalls of this type of transfer was that some devices would automatically accept files meaning that if your device had Bluetooth turned on, a stranger was able to load any content they wanted onto the device. The difference with AirDrop is that there is a little more control over what you are able to receive and from whom.
With the rise of iPhones we saw the transferring of songs between friendship groups become much more difficult due to Apple’s foresight to block this type of transfer. Of course, this was to stop users paying for songs and albums in iTunes and sharing them infinitely which would have seen Apple lose a large chunk of their cash flow. However, AirDrop does still allow users of iOS and MacOS to share a variety of files including photos, videos, contacts and links.
There has been an increase in people using AirDrop for malicious activities including sharing links to unsecured websites and dangerous applications through to sexual harassment. This has risen out of the fact some people are unaware the feature is there or how to control the rules for it.
AirDrop works by utilising the Bluetooth and WiFi connection of the devices in question and only works when the devices are within a certain proximity allowing for a constant connection between the two. Technically, the content being shared to the victims still needs to be accepted before it is permanently transferred to the device. However, the AirDrop transfer protocol is to display a preview of the file which the user needs to either accept or decline meaning you will always see an image even if it is something you do not wish to see.
To find out if you have AirDrop turned on simply swipe up from the bottom of your device screen to open the control centre. If AirDrop is turned on the status will display who you are allowing to send you content. To avoid the harassment that has started to become more prevalent you have a few options :
Turn Bluetooth and WiFi off completely if you aren’t actively using the features
Leave Bluetooth and WiFi turned on but turn off AirDrop receiving
Allow AirDrop receiving from contacts only
In all honesty, as an iPhone user I use WiFi and Bluetooth everyday so keep the AirDrop feature turned off and only turn it on when I'm sending/receiving files and I'd say that is the safest bet.