AirGuard declares war on stalkers
AirTags are small Bluetooth transmitters from Apple that people can use to quickly and easily find lost items, misplaced keys and bags. But what is intended as a help can also be used to track people unnoticed. Apple itself warns against AirTag stalking. A research-team at the Secure Mobile Networking Lab at TU Darmstadt is conducting research on this topic in ATHENE. Last year, the team published AirGuard, an app that also warns users of Android devices about unwanted AirTag tracking. Now, in a new paper, the researchers use user reports and data donations from 38,000 users to show that the app works well - and even warns faster than the Apple protection mechanism.
Alexander Heinrich, head of the research group at TU Darmstadt, explains the function and benefits of AirGuard and takes stock of the practical tests:
What exactly is AirGuard?
AirGuard is an Android-App that automatically detects trackers in the background and informs users of the potential danger. They can play a sound on the AirTag. If trackers are found on different days, the risk level for stalking, among other things, increases and users receive further notifications.
What are the advantages of AirGuard over Apple's tracking detection?
We have analysed Apple's tracking detection in detail. We found that Apple's tracking protection still does not detect home-made trackers - AirGuard, on the other hand, does.
In addition, we were able to show that AirGuard is just as good, and in some cases better, than the detection integrated in iOS: AirGuard also warns of other Bluetooth trackers, for example, and informs users more quickly than the Apple mechanism. AirGuard thus also offers better protection against stalking.
What are the practical experiences with the app?
In our paper "AirGuard - Protecting Android Users From Stalking Attacks By Apple Find My Devices", which we presented these days at the Conference on Security and Privacy in Wireless and Mobile Networks (ACM WiSec 2022), we described the app and its algorithm.
In addition, we also go into anonymised data from our app. 38,000 people have already shared data on how many trackers they found and whether they were successfully warned by our app. Conclusion: The data donations and user reports have shown that AirGuard is effective against tracking. By the way, we won the Best Paper Award at ACM WiSec 2022 for this publication. This also shows how important the protection of people is to science.
Information and other reports about AirGuard
Explanatory video for AirGuard: https://youtu.be/8v1y8A1__Qoshow all news