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AirTag trackers and travel: Cybersecurity expert weighs in

When Air Canada told Cambridge Ont.’s Nakita Rees her husband’s luggage was lost, she pushed back. She could see the bag was in a processing facility beside the Montreal airport.

The Ontario couple were able to monitor where the suitcase was using the AirTag tracking device they had placed inside, even reporting its eventual location – inside a public storage facility in Etobicoke, Ont. – to police.

The bag was finally returned to the couple on Monday, four and a half months after it went missing. Rees said they would have never got it back if it weren’t for the electronic tracker.

“You should be able to track your own luggage, it’s your luggage,” said David Jao with the University of Waterloo’s Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute. “The issue is that airlines hate it because it sort of airs out their dirty laundry.”

Jao said monitoring your luggage is prime example of a positive use of an AirTag – but he has concerns about other ways the technology could be employed.

“Someone else can slip an AirTag in your bag, attach it to your car or something like that and they can track you without you knowing it,” Jao said.

Concerns have been raised the technology can enable stalkers.

Jao said AirTags are growing in popularity and more regulations surrounding their use are needed.

“As the technology improves and matures, people will want them, it does have legitimate applications,” he said.


AirTags work by pinging nearby Apple devices.

“AirTags are sort of unique in that they do not directly report their own location,” Jao explained.

“It doesn't need to know its own location, it piggybacks on other devices.”

Because of that, the battery last longer and the device is cheaper and smaller than many other trackers.

The device also has speaker, which sounds an alarm when it’s been away from its connected device for more than eight hours.


Jao says it’s not a bad idea to pack an AirTag on your next trip.

“It might not always get your bag back to you but for what it costs, I could see people doing that,” he said. Top Stories

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