IEEE WoWMoM 2022

Where Is My Tag? Unveiling Alternative Uses of the Apple FindMy Service

Abstract:

Bluetooth trackers, or tags, have quickly become ubiquitous 
and widely supported by multiple vendors. Beyond their original 
design of finding lost objects, these devices have the ability 
to extend the capabilities of current wireless smart devices. 
Since its launch in 2019, Apple's FindMy enables any devices 
from their brand to be easily tracked by more than 1 billion 
active iPhones and iPads on the market. While convenient, these 
systems may even serve further uses, including as a result of 
this work, crowd sensing and a side channel for mobile 
communication. But they also raise privacy concerns for their 
users. In this paper, we demonstrate how Apple FindMy can be 
used as a privacy-friendly tool for crowd monitoring, and how 
it may inadvertently leak information on a person's location in 
case of deliberate tracking. Additionally, we design and 
evaluate a proof of concept protocol, using the Apple FindMy 
and a crafted tag using a simple microcontroller. We show how 
such system could be used to transmit information at very low 
bit rates, while the devices transporting the information remain 
unaware of this covert channel, yielding an out of band 
communication channel.


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BibTeX:
@inproceedings{Tonetto:WoWMoM2022,
 author = {Tonetto, Leonardo and Carrara, Andrea and Ding, Aaron Yi and Ott, Joerg},
 title = {Where Is My Tag? Unveiling Alternative Uses of the Apple FindMy Service},
 booktitle = {2022 IEEE 23rd International Symposium on a World of Wireless, Mobile and Multimedia Networks (WoWMoM)},
 series = {WowMoM '22},
 year = {2022},
 pages={396-405},
 publisher = {IEEE}
}
How to cite:

Leonardo Tonetto, Andrea Carrara, Aaron Yi Ding, and Joerg Ott. 2022. "Where Is My Tag? Unveiling Alternative Uses of the Apple FindMy Service". In Proceedings of the 2022 IEEE 23rd International Symposium on a World of Wireless, Mobile and Multimedia Networks (WoWMoM).