Ensure AirDrop Is Disabled When Not Actively Transferring Files


AirDrop is Apple's built-in, on-demand, ad hoc file exchange system that is compatible with both macOS and iOS. It uses Bluetooth LE for discovery that limits connectivity to Mac or iOS users that are in close proximity. Depending on the setting, it allows everyone or only Contacts to share files when they are near each other.

In many ways, this technology is far superior to the alternatives. The file transfer is done over a TLS encrypted session, does not require any open ports that are required for file sharing, does not leave file copies on email servers or within cloud storage, and allows for the service to be mitigated so that only people already trusted and added to contacts can interact with you.

While there are positives to AirDrop, there are privacy concerns that could expose personal information. For that reason, AirDrop should be disabled, and should only be enabled when needed and disabled afterwards. The recommendation against enabling the sharing is not based on any known lack of security in the protocol, but for specific user operational concerns.

If AirDrop is enabled, the Mac is advertising that a Mac is addressable on the local network and open to either unwanted AirDrop upload requests or for a negotiation on whether the remote user is in the user's contacts list. Neither process is desirable.

In most known use cases, AirDrop use qualifies as ad hoc networking when it involves Apple device users deciding to exchange a file using the service. AirDrop can thus be enabled on the fly for that exchange.

For organizations concerned about any use of AirDrop because of Digital Loss Prevention (DLP) monitoring on other protocols, JAMF has an article on reviewing AirDrop logs.

Detecting outbound AirDrop transfers and logging them


AirDrop can allow malicious files to be downloaded from unknown sources. Contacts Only limits may expose personal information to devices in the same area.


Disabling AirDrop can limit the ability to move files quickly over the network without using file shares.


Profile Method:
Create or edit a configuration profile with the following information:

The PayloadType string is com.apple.applicationaccess

The key to include is allowAirDrop

The key must be set to <false/>

Note: AirDrop can only be enabled or disabled through configuration profiles. If your organization wants to use AirDrop, it would need to be set through Terminal or the GUI. Please see the Additional Information for assistance with those options, but those system will not technically be in compliance.

See Also


Item Details


References: 800-53|AC-2(1), 800-53|AC-3, 800-53|CM-1, 800-53|CM-2, 800-53|CM-6, 800-53|CM-7, 800-53|CM-7(1), 800-53|CM-9, 800-53|SA-3, 800-53|SA-8, 800-53|SA-10, CSCv7|5.1, CSCv7|15.4

Plugin: Unix

Control ID: a70e769728e1e6d9942078b0879d1238ccfbd3e879aade19ceb4135c819e5ff6