A flight from Newark was evacuated when someone sent a picture of a suicide vest to several Apple devices on the plane that passengers were expecting to start, the latest warning that Apple's AirDrop feature could be used for more than flirting and sharing memes.  Passengers on a Tampa-bound JetBlue aircraft received a disturbing surprise on Saturday when someone sent them the image through Apple's AirDrop feature, allowing users to share content with nearby devices via Bluetooth technology.
The plane was evacuated and was ready to take off after the port authority police and bomb-sniffing dogs concluded there was no threat on board. But the police have not been able to identify who sent the picture in question.
Unwanted AirDrop messages have both been popular and a concern since the feature was introduced in 201
It has been very popular with teenagers as a means of flirting or sending memes in public places such as concerts, festivals and public transport. But it has also been used as a tool for harassment. New York City lawmakers introduced a bill last year would make it illegal "for a person to send an unwanted sexually explicit video or image to another person with the intention of harassing, annoying or alerting other people," partly as a response to an epidemic
Apple users can change the AirDrop settings to receive requests from people on their contact lists, but many have Bluetooth as their default, security experts say.
And It is difficult to trace an image back to a particular device. AirDrop is mostly anonymous, says Richard Gold, director of security technology at San Francisco-based security firm Digital Shadows, and it can't be traced to a device "unless you were to confiscate all the devices from the passengers on the plane," he said.
"Even then, it is unlikely that you will be able to find the originating address [Bluetooth] without forensically examining the entities that received the images," he said.
"Immediately, the vulnerabilities come down to the general principle of" If you don't use something, turn it off, "says Gold.
Apple and JetBlue did not respond to comment request.