Apple's AirTag tracker has already been hacked

An IT security researcher redirected the device’s finding feature to his own website

Apple’s AirTag has only been out for around a week, but it’s already been hacked.

A German cyber security researcher cracked the AirTag’s microcontroller, the tiny integrated circuit that controls the device. 

The AirTag, a small locator that retails for $29, can help you find your car keys or anything else it’s attached to. Normally, when you use your phone to find an AirTag, your phone opens in the “Find My” website at found.apple.com to initiate the “Lost Mode” process. However, the researcher found he could redirect the microcontroller to his personal website instead.

Security researcher Thomas Roth, who goes by the name Stack Smashing, posted a video of the process to Twitter, and wrote: “After hours of trying (and bricking 2 AirTags) I managed to break into the microcontroller of the AirTag."

This means hackers could potentially direct hacked AirTags to phishing or malware sites, and it remains to be seen whether Apple will implement some mechanism to block this sort of attack.

Although this sounds alarming, the tech review website SlashGear cautions that even if a hacker can reprogram an AirTag, “the process and the end result might not yet be worth the worry.”

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“The security researcher hasn’t disclosed yet the process but he admits bricking at least two AirTags to get there,” SlashGear noted. “Unless the tracker’s firmware can be modified remotely over the air, the only way you’ll get a hacked AirTag would be if you acquired it through other parties.”

As always, there are proactive ways to avoid falling victim to phishing and malware campaigns like this. When you navigate to a site, always verify the URL looks exactly as you expect. Many times, these spoofed sites will have one character off or a different domain extension. 

If you see anything suspicious in the link, close the browser, open a fresh browser and navigate to your target site by typing it manually into the URL bar.

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