'AirDrop' feature has parents, and security experts, on high ale - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

'AirDrop' feature has parents, and security experts, on high alert

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

An iPhone feature poses a new problem for both parents, kids, and cybersecurity experts. It’s called AirDrop. It allows anyone to send you any message, picture, or video. It's led to a new phrase: Cyber flashing.

Dustin Puryear is a technology engineer in Baton Rouge, with over fifteen years of experience.

“You can just be sitting at the LSU Stadium, and somebody thirty feet away that you've never met could send you a digital image, you could click a button and it would open the image,” Puryear said. “You could be a five-year-old, or a fifty-year-old, and receive an image that's not appropriate."

Puryear’s focus has shifted over the years towards security, but not solely computers.

Puryear says a growing percentage of his work is all about phones.

"As things have shifted to mobile devices, for several years actually, security was reduced because corporate systems had less control over the mobile devices,” Puryear says. “In particular, people's home and personal mobile devices are still insecure, and the airdrop issues are great examples of that."

Puryear started a new cybersecurity company, Osage, earlier this year. But phone security hasn't just affected his professional life, it's also affected his life as a parent.

He has two children, including an 11-year old with no cell phone and Puryear plans on keeping it that way.

"I think an 11-year-old, a 13-year-old, or a 15-year-old are gonna do what you expect an 11, 13, or 15-year-old kid to do,” Puryear says. “So I personally don't think that's the age that they should have a smart device."

No cell phone may seem a little extreme to some parents in Baton Rouge, but others don't think it's so far fetched.

Jennifer Phillips is a teacher at Lee High School and a mother of two. She has no intention of giving her kids smartphones. Instead, they have old-school flip phones with no internet or apps. The phones are only used for emergency calls or texts.

"There's already too much out there on the internet and at least at home, I can control what sites they go to on the internet,” Phillips says. “With a phone... I just didn't want it."

Dana Babin's kids are a little older. Her son Daniel is sixteen and just got his own smartphone. She's less concerned about his security because, at his age, she trusts him.

"With him, I'm not that concerned because he's a pretty level-headed kid,” Babin says. “I know the other day he said, mom, there's a phone number that's calling me, I don't recognize it. So I said, don't answer it. Just leave it. I said if it's really somebody who meant to call you, they'll leave a message."

Babin's other son Matthew is 13 and doesn't have his own phone yet. She says she's gonna wait until he's about Daniel's age before making that decision.

Puryear says, fortunately, parents can prevent their kids, and themselves, from the problems with AirDrop.

Just click on settings, general, and then airdrop. Make sure the "contacts only" option, and not the "everyone" option is selected.

This means only numbers in your address book can send you pictures or videos. But be careful, when your phone updates or you alter other settings, it can change.

So make sure you re-check those options.

Copyright 2018 WAFB. All rights reserved.

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