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AirDrop Assaults On The Rise As Criminals Cyber Flash Strangers

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As technology infiltrates every aspect of our lives, criminals and creeps are figuring out creative ways to abuse it. One such way is called "cyber-flashing."

Cyber-flashing is the act of sending lewd pictures to unsuspecting victims. It's such an issue in New York that laws are being created to help prosecute the digital sexual harassment.

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In Philadelphia, police say cyber-flashing is happening as well.

The AirDrop feature on Apple products is an easy way to share positive memories with loved ones but its very easy to send and receive digital messages from strangers nearby using the tool.

It's popular for its ease of use and quality for many people.

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"I like it because it's convenient to drop pictures and photos," says one person.

Unfortunately, that ease of sharing has led to cyber-flashing.

airdrop feature phone
Credit: CBS3

"There are people out there who are not respectful," says another person.

An associate professor at Temple University's Fox School of Business recognizes the vulnerabilities of such technology.

"The phones are set up to be really easy in a sense. They make the process of sending pictures really seamless, really painless. It couldn't be simpler," explains Anthony Vance, who also serves as the director of cybersecurity at Temple.

"We'll see old crimes performed in new ways and they'll happen in ways that are unexpected like this," he adds.

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An experiment found that it was incredibly easy to send pictures to strangers on a short walk through City Hall.

While some folks rejected the request to accept sent items, others allowed the photos to be sent through.

Some people didn't even realize they had the AirDrop feature on.

There is an easy way to prevent unwanted photos from popping up on your screen, though. A privacy feature can be enabled to make eliminate the possibility of being sent unwanted photos, videos, or other documents.

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It's a surprisingly easy solution to a rather complicated crime.

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