DEFENSESTORM BLOG

Cyber Security Alerts: Apple’s Name Drop Feature

Thursday, November 30th, 2023

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Keeping up with cyber security alerts is important and Apple just rolled out a new default feature for iPhone and Apple watch that allows nearby users to share contact information with one another. This feature has sparked some concern in online social communities and even prompted law enforcement agencies to release statements and privacy warnings over the last few days due to the concern that people could “drop” information on another user’s phone at random, which seems scary.

Apple’s latest update to iPhone and Apple Watch feature has sparked concern in online social communities, prompting law enforcement agencies that are on the lookout for cyber security alerts to release statements and privacy warnings over the last few days due to the concern that people could “drop” information on another user’s phone at random, which seems scary.

The recommendation is to immediately disable this new feature as a safety precaution, but is it as big of a threat as some claim? Let’s take a step back and examine this feature, how it works, and whether you should disable it.

The new feature is on by default with iOS 17.1 and watch OS 10.1 and is intended to allow users to quickly share their contact information with a nearby phone or Apple watch.

Apple released these directions for the NameDrop feature:

Use NameDrop on iPhone to share your contact information with new people

  1. Do one of the following:
    • Share from iPhone to iPhone or Apple Watch: Hold the display of your iPhone a few centimeters from the top of the other person’s iPhone or Apple Watch.
    • Share from Apple Watch to another Apple Watch: Open the Contacts app on your Apple Watch, tap your picture in the top-right corner, tap Share, and then bring your watch close to the other person’s Apple Watch.

A glow emerges from both devices, and the Apple Watch vibrates to indicate a connection is being made.

  1. Continue holding the devices near each other until NameDrop appears on both screens.
  2. Choose to share your contact card and receive the other person’s or to only receive the other person’s.

To cancel, move the two devices away from each other or lock your iPhone before the NameDrop transfer completes.

Note: NameDrop only works for sending new contact information, not updating an existing contact.

Use Contacts on iPhone to share a contact

You can use the Contacts app to share your contact information (or another contact’s information) to someone else with Messages, Mail, or another option.

  1. Open the Contacts app  on your iPhone.
  2. Select the contact you want to share.
  3. Tap Share Contact, select the fields you want to include, then tap Done.
  4. Select a method to share the contact and tap Send.

So, should you disable this new feature?

That will be up to the individual to decide, based on the information above. There are a couple of key points to consider: First, “nearby” is a little overstated. The devices must be nearly touching for this work. Second, there is a control in place in that you must accept or deny the connection from the second device. It doesn’t appear to be the case that someone from across the room can just drop contact information or take yours, for that matter.  This is really just an extension of AirDrop, which people have been using for quite some time.

If you want to disable this setting

  1. Open Settings
  2. Go to General
  3. Select AirDrop – look for “START SHARING BY”. You should have an option for Bringing Devices Together – Slide the slider to the left to turn grey and off.

It is always important to stay up to date on new device features and cyber security alerts, as well as how and under what conditions your data is (or could be) shared.  As with any new feature or technology, users should review the information and make a decision about use based on the desired level of privacy and safety for themselves and their children.

James Bruhl

James Bruhl

Director of Cyber Threat Intelligence

James Bruhl is the Director of Cyber Threat Intelligence for DefenseStorm. He joined the company with 15 years of experience as a law enforcement officer, bringing extensive experience in crime prevention, evidence collection, investigative techniques, and crisis management. Driven by a passion for technological advancements and the ever-evolving landscape of digital threats, he transitioned to the field of digital forensics, incident response, and cybersecurity. In his role, he honed his skills in analyzing digital evidence, identifying cyber threats, and implementing robust security measures specializing in forensic examinations on various devices to uncover critical information and support investigations. James began at DefenseStorm as a security engineer in 2020 and developed DefenseStorm’s EDR Service. He was then appointed as Director of Cyber Threat Intelligence in 2022 and is responsible for nearly all facets of the EDR service. During his cyber career, James has been instrumental in proactively detecting and responding to cyber incidents and plays a vital role in incident response teams, coordination efforts to mitigate the impact of breaches, vulnerability identification, and strategy implementation to prevent future attacks. He continues to share his expertise by conducting training sessions, participating in conferences, and writing articles on topics related to digital forensics, incident response, and cybersecurity. James holds a bachelor’s in criminal justice from the University of North Georgia and a GCFE certification.