Security Researchers Develop Framework for Tracking Bluetooth Devices Using Find My

Ahead of the debut of AirTags and support for locating third-party Bluetooth items through Find My in iOS 14.5, a team of security researchers from the Secure Mobile Networking Lab at the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany has reverse engineered the ‌Find My‌ protocol and developed an app that's designed to let anyone create an "AirTag" based on a Bluetooth-capable device.

openhaystack mac app
Called OpenHaystack, the app and the source code are available on GitHub for those who are interested in taking a look. The app allows users to create their own Bluetooth tags based on the ‌Find My‌ network by installing an "‌AirTag‌" firmware image on a Bluetooth dongle.

The app displays the most recent location of a created Bluetooth tag reported by any iPhone using Apple's ‌Find My‌ network that was implemented in iOS 13, plus it shows the location of the tag on a map.

According to the security researchers, the created tags send out Bluetooth beacons, which are picked up by nearby iPhones that interpret the sending device as lost. The current geolocation is end-to-end encrypted and then uploaded to Apple, with the OpenHaystack app then downloading the encrypted report from Apple and decrypting it locally on the Mac.

In the process of developing this tool, the Secure Mobile Networking Lab researchers also identified a macOS Catalina ‌Find My‌ vulnerability that was reported to Apple and addressed in a 10.15.7 update released back in November. The vulnerability allowed a malicious app to access iCloud decryption keys to download and decrypt location reports submitted by the ‌Find My‌ network.

Apple's iOS 14.5 update includes support for tracking third-party Bluetooth devices in the ‌Find My‌ app using a new "Items" tab, which takes advantage of the same ‌Find My‌ protocol used for the Mac app.

At the current time, in-app tracking is limited to Beats headphones and upcoming Belkin wireless earbuds, but in the future, many third-party Bluetooth devices may include ‌Find My‌ integration, making it easier to keep track of them. This system will also be used by Apple's own rumored AirTags, which have yet to be released.

Popular Stories

iOS 18 CarPlay Feature

iOS 18 Adds These 5 New Features to CarPlay

Thursday June 13, 2024 7:44 am PDT by
Apple did not mention CarPlay during its WWDC keynote this week, but iOS 18 includes a handful of new features for the in-car software. Overall, there is not a whole lot new for CarPlay on iOS 18, with changes seemingly limited to the Messages and Settings apps so far. Below, we recap everything new for CarPlay on iOS 18. New for CarPlay on iOS 18 1. Contact Photos in Messages App...
ios 18 button bulge

iOS 18 Adds Pop-Out Bezel Animation When Pressing iPhone Buttons

Tuesday June 11, 2024 10:40 am PDT by
iOS 18 includes a small but interesting change for the buttons on the iPhone, adding more of a visual element when changing volume, activating the Action button, or locking the screen. When you press an iPhone button in iOS 18, the display bezel bulges outward slightly. This feature is available for the volume buttons, Action button and the power button, and it will also likely be used for...
iOS 18 Mock iPhone 16 Feature Gray

Revealed: iOS 18 Works With These iPhone Models

Monday June 10, 2024 3:57 am PDT by
iOS 18 will be compatible with the same iPhone models as iOS 17, according to a post on X today from a private account with a proven track record of sharing build numbers for upcoming iOS updates. iOS 18 will be compatible with the iPhone XR, and hence also the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max models with the same A12 Bionic chip, but older iPhone models will miss out. Here is the full...
maxresdefault

First Look at Messages via Satellite in iOS 18

Thursday June 13, 2024 11:29 am PDT by
Apple has been gradually expanding its suite of satellite connectivity features for iPhone, and iOS 18 brings a significant new one in the form of Messages via satellite. The feature allows users to send and receive iMessages and SMS texts, including emoji and Tapbacks, while out of range of cellular and Wi-Fi networks. CNET met up with Apple's senior director of platform product marketing,...
iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

Massive iPhone Upgrade Coming This Week But These Devices Will Miss Out

Sunday June 9, 2024 1:25 pm PDT by
Apple is planning a major AI overhaul in iOS 18, with a feature set it is referring to as "Apple Intelligence." However, these new features will not work on older iPhones, even if they do appear on the new operating system's device compatibility list. Apple's initial AI roadmap for iOS 18 is said to come in two parts: Basic AI features that will be processed on-device, and more advanced...
Generic iOS 18 Feature Real Mock

Your iPhone 15 Can Show the Time When It's Out of Battery in iOS 18

Wednesday June 12, 2024 2:57 pm PDT by
The iPhone has had a Power Reserve function that holds back a small amount of battery life to allow features like Find My and NFC unlocking to work even when your device has died, and in iOS 18, Apple seems to be improving the feature further for the iPhone 15 models. As demonstrated on Reddit, when the battery on an iPhone running iOS 18 is exhausted, the phone can continue to show the time ...

Top Rated Comments

Apple_Robert Avatar
43 months ago

This is good stuff guys! Apple is on top of it
Apple is on top of it? What does that mean?
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
coolfactor Avatar
43 months ago
This strikes me as concerning.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Corsig Avatar
43 months ago
Yeah that won’t last long
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Apple_Robert Avatar
43 months ago

The privacy.. security...
The article is about a couple of researchers creating an app that reverse engineers Find My. This isn't awesome stuff. This is concerning.

Edited to correct my misunderstanding.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cmaier Avatar
43 months ago

Awesome! Let’s hope Apple don’t try to patch this.
Why not? Security holes are bad. Anyone who wants to integrate into the Find My network can do so the official way.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Apple_Robert Avatar
43 months ago

Awesome! Let’s hope Apple don’t try to patch this.
I hope Apple does patch the vulnerability and render this app useless.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)