iPhone's newest feature prompts security concerns

Called NameDrop, the feature was sent to iPhones with the latest iOS 17 update in September. — REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

A new iPhone feature is raising security concerns among US law enforcement officials.

Called NameDrop, the feature was sent to iPhones with the latest iOS 17 update in September.

Here's how it works: Two iPhone users hold their phones together with the top ends touching. An animation is displayed on the phones. The devices then connect via a limited form of AirDrop, another of Apple's technologies.

So why are police up in arms? Many law enforcement agencies, including Schertz police, recently pointed out it could result in the inadvertent sharing of personal information.

Tech publications like Wired note that the process requires consent. People can't bump into you and walk away with your name, number and a photo unless you send it yourself, the publication wrote.

The phone will display an image you set as your "Contact Poster," almost like a digital business card.

Users will then be prompted if they want to share a phone number or email address. If you don't want to send anything, you may simply move your phone away from the other phone.

Still, Schertz police said children might accept the connection without realising what they're doing.

It's all for the sake of the convenience of sharing contact information with the click of a button.

iPhones from the XR lineup to the latest iPhones are capable of receiving the update, as well as the SE second and third-generation iPhones.

Anyone who wishes to turn off the feature may do so by opening the device's settings, tapping "General," then "AirDrop," and scrolling to the section labeled "Start Sharing By." From there, toggle the "Bringing Devices Together" section to the off position.

The latest update is a reminder to review new features that may need attention on your iPhone. It's also a good time to familiarise yourself with other devices, such as laptops, tablets and smartwatches, that can share your information.

A feature similar to this – Near Field Communication, or NFC – has existed for much longer on Android devices. It works similarly by holding the back of one device against another after choosing an image, link or contact card and preparing the device to share it.

NFC tags may be programmed to hold data or trigger specific actions when holding an Apple or Android device against them.

Today's technology offers numerous ways to share and send information. To that end, law enforcement often warns people to think twice before posting something personal or sensitive online. It's up to you to keep your information secure. – San Antonio Express-News/Tribune News Service

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