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AirDrop-shared plane crash photos cause panic in Israeli plane

The aircraft was taxiing before taking off to Turkey when the disturbing images were received by on-board passengers

Photo from AnadoluJet website
Photo from AnadoluJet website

An unusual security incident in Israel yesterday (Tuesday): nine Israeli citizens from an Arab village in the country’s north removed from an airplane an airplane which was about to take off to Istanbul from the Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, and detained for questioning. They are suspected of distributing images of a plane crash to other passengers onboard, creating alarm and fears of a potential terror attack threat.

The images, sent via Apple’s AirDrop, included photos of the Turkish Airline plane that crashed in the Netherlands in 2009, and another later crash in the US, according to Israeli news website Ynet.

As the incident was unfolding, all 154 passengers were taken off the plane and re-questioned by security, as the aircraft itself was carefully scanned for any potential explosive devices.

The aircraft, by AnadoluJet (a Turkish Airlines subsidiary), finally took off after a six-hour delay.

According to an Israeli Police Statement the nine suspects, all around the age of 18, are being questioned on suspicion of committing a serious offense of disseminating false information causing public fear and panic. The questioning’s findings will be examined by the prosecution.

As AirDrop allows wireless exchange of files when Apple devices are in close proximity, this was not even a system breach – but simple usage of a device many people have in their pockets. This illustrate the ease in which malicious actors can cause alarm and disruption, employing basic, everyday knowledge.

It is possible to change the setting on one's iPhone, to only receive AirDrop images from known contacts.

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