China claims to have decrypted Apple AirDrop encryption to identify senders

(CNN) — A Chinese technology company was able to decrypt the encryption of Apple’s wireless file-sharing feature AirDrop to identify users of the popular feature, according to the Beijing Bureau of Justice.

Beijing-based Wangshendongjian Technology was able to help police track down people who used the service to send “inappropriate information” to passersby on the Beijing subway, the agency said in a statement Monday.

According to the statement, during the investigation of the complaint, the company identified the mobile phone numbers and email addresses of the senders. Several suspects have been identified, he said, without providing details about the nature of the reports.

AirDrop has been blamed for annoying messages some travelers received on subways and buses in Chinese cities. Protesters also reportedly used a popular wireless file-sharing feature to spread anonymous messages critical of the Chinese government in the final months of 2022.

According to the statement, the company has “overcome the technical challenges of anonymous tracking via AirDrop,” which has “prevented the further spread of inappropriate comments and potential negative influences.”

CNN has reached out to Apple (AAPL) for comment.

Some people in China used AirDrop, which can only be used between Apple devices, to distribute leaflets and images echoing slogans used in a rare protest against the Chinese leader, according to international media reports including The New York Times and Vice World News. Xi Jinping in October. that year.

In 2019, AirDrop, which is only effective over short distances, was particularly popular among anti-government protesters in Hong Kong, who regularly used the feature to send colorful posters and images to subway passengers encouraging them to take part in the protests.

In November 2022, Apple began restricting file sharing via AirDrop with people who were not contacts for devices in China, making it difficult for users to share files with people they don’t know. This feature was later extended worldwide.

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