iPhone iOS 17 update sparks security warnings – is Apple NameDrop really a threat?

Two iPhones come together with a padlock behind them (images: Getty Images)

NameDrop, a new iPhone feature that automatically has been added to your phone as part of the latest Apple update, has sparked security warnings. But is it really a threat? In this piece, we explain what it is and how to switch it off.

If you are an iPhone user, you’re likely to have had to load an update to Apple’s operating system in recent days. The iOS17 upgrade added several features to apps, as well as security updates.

One of the new functions is something called NameDrop – a version AirDrop that allows you to share your contact details. Police in the USA have raised concerns about the new feature. Law enforcement departments across states including California and New Jersey have warned it presents a threat to privacy and could help scammers.

It comes as people across the UK face a wide variety of scams. Fraudsters are targeting us by mimicking trusted brands, including Amazon and the Post Office. With the Christmas season now upon us, they are also attempting to get hold of our cash by sending messages pretending to be from delivery firms, such as the Royal Mail and Evri. Read our ‘How to spot a scam’ guide to make sure you don’t get caught out.

So, is the NameDrop feature anything to be particularly worried about – and how can you switch it off? Here’s everything you need to know.

How does iPhone NameDrop work?

NameDrop works in a similar way to AirDrop. By holding your iPhone near to someone else’s, you can share phone numbers, email addresses and other contact details.

To share anything, your phone has to be within a few centimetres of the top of another iPhone. After several seconds, you’ll get a message asking whether you’d like to share your contact details and receive the other person’s.

At this point, if you weren’t planning to be sharing your details with someone else, you can refuse to do so on your screen. Locking your phone also stops any data transmission, or you can move your phone away from the other one and they will immediately stop communicating with each other.

Is iPhone NameDrop something to be worried about?

In a word, no. Your phone won’t share anything unless it’s very close to another iPhone. And, even then, you have control over whether or not your phone will share your details.

But it’s definitely worth being aware of this new iOS feature. After all, everyone’s had that moment where we’ve clicked on the wrong thing at the wrong time. If this happens to you, lock your phone immediately and move it well away from the other iPhone.

Some people are likely to want to use NameDrop but may have concerns about how secure it is. Like AirDrop, the feature is end-to-end encrypted. It means only you and the person whose iPhone you’re interacting with can see the information that’s passing between your phones. No one can hack their way into the data transmission that’s taking place.

How can I switch NameDrop off?

With its latest iPhone update, Apple has automatically switched on the NameDrop feature for you. While this may be handy for some people, it’s likely to create a bit of anxiety among others who perhaps don’t want to share their personal details so readily.

To turn it off, head to your phone’s settings, and then click on ‘General’. The third option on the menu you see next will be ‘AirDrop’. Click on this and you will see this screen.

The AirDrop settings page, which shows the option to switch off NameDrop (image: Look After My Bills)

Where it says ‘Bringing Devices Together’, you’ll want to hit the green switch next to it. This will turn the switch from green to grey, which means you’ve turned NameDrop off. You will still be able to use AirDrop after you do this.