Should You Worry About AirTags With Speakers Disabled?



Justin Duino

Apple AirTags are making headlines again as people start selling muted devices with speakers turned off, making it easier for them to place them on unsuspecting victims. Should you be concerned about this?

What will happen to AirTags?

Apple has tried to prevent thieves and stalkers from using AirTags to track down their victims. The company has even released an Android app to alert people when an unknown AirTag is nearby (the functionality is already in iPhones). This was an important step to prevent people from using AirTags maliciously, but it is not a perfect solution.

With Apple’s tracking methods, you rely on the speaker to help you find the AirTag, which has led people to start selling tracking devices with disabled speakers online. The Silent AirTag Etsy listing was removed as soon as its existence started making news.

The Etsy seller has sent a statement to PCMag regarding the listing and why it was created:

The intent of this change was to accommodate the various requests from buyers who were interested in my other AirTag product and who were interested in mounting an AirTag on their bicycles, pets, and power tools. These requests prompted me to list it as a product on Etsy, albeit without much traction. The vast majority of sales shown on my Etsy profile are from sales on my custom slim AirTag, designed to fit unobtrusively in a purse or wallet.

Like many other products in the world, there will always be a minority of people who will use them for malicious activities. Satisfied with my ability to help people with real, positive use, I listed the product without considering the negative consequences.

The AirTag is very easy to make ‘silent’, either by electrical modification or by simply dampening the sound with a clamping force. I can’t stop people from modifying AirTags themselves (there are several posts online explaining how to do this), but at least I can stop offering a tool that could potentially be used maliciously.

While I believe there are many positive uses for this product, there are some negatives, which I am now aware of, that cannot be outweighed by any positive. In light of this, I have removed my listing from Etsy. I am not affiliated with other silent AirTags offers.

A single entry going down will not prevent the problem as there are plenty of guides on YouTube showing you how to disable the AirTag speaker. If someone really wants to use an AirTag as a malicious tracking device, they can figure out how to mute the tracker itself.

There are also other Etsy listings for silent AirTags, so deleting them won’t make the problem go away.

Are Apple AirTags Really a Security Risk?

There is no shortage of stories about using AirTags malicious to stalk people or steal expensive cars. Now that more people are figuring out how to silence the devices, the risk is slightly higher, but it’s technically a risk that’s been around for a while, as devices like Tile trackers have been on sale for years.

The main difference is that AirTags use the power of Apple’s Find My Network, which makes the tracking better. There’s also the more mainstream push that comes from AirTags called Apple, which other trackers don’t have.

Unfortunately, Apple can’t do anything about muting the speaker. The company was able to shorten the time before an AirTag goes missing and when the alert occurs, but there is no way for the company to address changed hardware.

While the reports are thereit doesn’t seem like such a widespread issue that Apple should be pulling the devices off the market or something like that, but we’ll have to see if Apple decides to address this latest AirTag security threat.

Fortunately, your phone will still warn you if an unauthorized AirTag is nearby, but it will be harder to find if the person has muted the speaker. Still, you know it’s there and you can take the proper precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. As always, stay alert and keep an eye out to keep yourself as safe as possible there.

RELATED: How Apple’s AirTags Prevent Stalkers From Tracking You

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