- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 13, 2015

An iPhone user in London said unsolicited pictures of a man’s penis were automatically loaded onto her mobile device by an individual who must have exploited a feature in AirDrop, Apple’s wireless file-sharing service.

The British Transport Police (BTP) said they are investigating one of the first-ever cases of “cyber flashing” after 34-year-old Lorraine Crighton-Smith was reportedly harassed during a recent South London train ride.

“I had Airdrop switched on because I had been using it previously to send photos to another iPhone user — and a picture appeared on the screen of a man’s penis, which I was quite shocked by,” she told BBC this week. “So, I declined the image, instinctively, and another image appeared, at which [point] I realized someone nearby must be sending them, and that concerned me.”

AirDrop is proprietary, Bluetooth-based software from Apple that allows iOS users, like iPhone and iPad owners, to wirelessly share files with one another between devices when they are within a certain range. It initially restricts sharing between known contacts by default, but by accepting a connection from an unrecognized device just once, it will adjust those settings and allow files from strangers to be received unless adjustments are performed immediately.

Ms. Crighton-Smith said that her first name is displayed to other AirDrop users when she enables the device, so the sender of the pictures presumably knew the recipient was a woman.

“I felt violated. It was a very unpleasant thing to have forced upon my screen,” she said.

The BTP said it hasn’t encountered this type of harassment before and that anyone undergoing a similar experience should remain calm, retain the image and report the matter to police as soon as possible.

“We have a dedicated Cyber Crime Unit who can analyze mobile phones and track data transfers back to suspects’ devices,” BTP Superintendent Gill Murray said. “By linking this to physical evidence, such as CCTV footage or witness statements, we can catch offenders and bring them to justice through the courts.”

Because Ms Crighton-Smith did not “accept” the image, the BTP said, investigators lack any actual technological evidence in her case.

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