It seems that the AWDL protocol, installed on over 1.2 billion Apple devices, contains vulnerabilities that enable attackers to track users, crash devices, or intercept files transferred between devices via man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks.
These are the findings of a research project that started last year at the Technical University of Darmstadt, in Germany, and has recently concluded, and whose findings researchers will be presenting later this month at a security conference in the US. The project sought to analyze the Apple Wireless Direct Link (AWDL), a protocol that Apple rolled out in 2014 and which also plays a key role in enabling device-to-device communications in the Apple ecosystem. While most Apple end users might not be aware of the protocol's existence, AWDL is at the core of Apple services like AirPlay and AirDrop, and Apple has been including AWDL by default on all devices the company has been selling, such as Macs, iPhones, iPads, Apple watches, Apple TVs, and HomePods. But in the past five years, Apple has never published any in-depth technical details about how AWDL works. This, in turn, has resulted in very few security researchers looking at AWDL for bugs or implementation errors.