A new offence, which is being dubbed cyber-flashing, has been reported by a woman to British Transport Police after a man sent sexual pictures of himself to her via Apple Airdrop. The woman was travelling on the Tube and iPhone users have been urged to check their settings, while security professionals have suggested that Apple could take action to help prevent this from being a problem by introducing default settings to the document sharing app.
Airdrop enables iPhone users to share pictures and files with one another quickly and easily. By default, the app is set to contacts so that only people that appear in your contacts list can see your phone and share pictures with them. However, it is possible to change this setting so that anybody can see your phone and share information in this way.
34 year old Lorraine Craighton-Smith had been sending photos to another iPhone user earlier in the day, and had changed the settings on her phone but did not change them back before she got on the tube to go home. Apparently, her phone would have been identified as Lorraine, so that the offender knew he was communicating with a woman, and he sent two naked pictures of his penis.
Ms Craghton-Smith did not accept the pictures, which means that they are no longer on her phone and British Transport Police have said that because of this they are unable to take the case any further but that they are using the information as intelligence. They also said that while this has been a problem with Bluetooth sharing in the past, it is the first time that they know of that Apple’s Airdrop has been used in this way.
The BTP also said that sharing images of this nature without consent is an offence, and that they have the capability to be able to track the picture back to the offending device, combine this with CCTV and other physical evidence and have a good chance of gaining a conviction. They urged anybody that receives such pictures to keep them and report the incident straight away.