China claims to decode Apple AirDrop encryption to identify senders

(CNN) – A Chinese technology company managed to decode the encryption on Apple’s AirDrop wireless file-sharing feature to identify users of the popular feature, according to the Beijing Justice Bureau.

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

According to the statement, it had identified the mobile phone numbers and email addresses of the senders as part of an investigation following a complaint. Without giving details about the nature of the messages, he said several suspects had been identified.

AirDrop was blamed for annoying messages received by some passengers on subways and buses in Chinese cities. Protesters also reportedly used the popular wireless file-sharing feature to spread anonymous messages criticizing the Chinese government in the final months of 2022.

According to the statement, the company “overcame the technical difficulties of anonymous traceability through airdrops,” which “prevented inappropriate comments and potentially bad effects from spreading further.”

CNN has contacted Apple (AAPL) for comment.

Some residents in China used airdrops to distribute leaflets and images echoing slogans used in a rare protest against Chinese leader Xi Jinping in October, according to international media including The New York Times and Vice World News. Which can be used only between Apple devices. Of 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 artwork to subway passengers and ask them to protest. Were requested to participate.

In November 2022, Apple began limiting AirDrop sharing with people who were not in contact with devices in China, making it difficult for users to share files with people they do not know. This facility was later expanded worldwide.

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