Apple’s ‘NameDrop’ feature sparks security concerns, but are they valid?

Apple's OS17 adds a feature called NameDrop that allows people to share contact information by putting one phone on top of another.

Police are warning that a feature in Apple’s latest update to its iPhone could allow strangers to steal information from you or your child’s iPhone.

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However, according to a story from Wired and Forbes, and some information from Apple, the warnings may not be necessary. Using the feature called Namedrop may not be the risk some are saying it is.

The warnings from police departments claim that there is a danger of iPhone contact information (telephone names and emails) being stolen when the new feature is opened after an iPhone user updates their phone with the latest operating system.

However, according to Apple, the new feature does not allow just anyone who walks by you to have access to the information you have on your phone.

Davey Winder, a veteran cybersecurity and tech analyst for Forbes, explains that someone would have to have physical access to your unlocked iPhone to try to get the information.

“... if someone has access to an unlocked device, then it’s game over as far as privacy is concerned,” Winder wrote.

NameDrop, allows you to share information between two Apple devices – iPhones and Apple Watches. It is an extension of Apple’s AirDrop feature that allows information such as photos to be shared between two phones.

The new feature, Apple notes, is designed to require multiple steps to get the contact information.

“The real truth is that, despite being defaulted to an on position, the NameDrop feature isn’t just going to throw your contact details at any passing person with an iPhone. ... That alone should calm the fears of most rational users but if you are still concerned the safeguards don’t end there,” Winder wrote.

To use NameDrop, a person must hold a device on top of someone else’s device in order to share contact information.

If an iPhone user wants to share his contact information, he turns on NameDrop and has someone standing close to him turn on the feature on their device.

Then the two iPhone users can activate the feature by holding the top ends of their smartphones together.

If the phones stay on top of each other long enough, a contact card with your email and phone number pops up on your own device.

After you get the card, you have the choice of tapping on “Share” or “Receive Only.” Share meaning sending the information to the other phone and Receive Only meaning only you get the information.

You can end the transaction by tapping “Done” in the top left corner of your screen.

If the devices are moved apart anytime during the sharing, the sharing will be canceled.

NameDrop is auto-enabled when you update your phone – meaning you do not have to turn it on manually, the update does it for you.

If you want to turn off NameDrop to feel safer about your information, you can. Here’s how:

  • Go to settings
  • Tap “General”
  • Then tap “AirDrop.”
  • Go to the section labeled “Start Sharing By” and toggle “Bringing Devices Together” to the left.