Apple AirPods can be hacked to eavesdrop on your conversations — how to stay safe

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) in case
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

We often worry about our phones and laptops getting hacked but a newly discovered vulnerability could allow an attacker to eavesdrop on Apple’s AirPods.

As reported by The Hacker News, the iPhone maker has released a new firmware update for its AirPods to prevent hackers from exploiting a recently discovered Bluetooth vulnerability. 

The flaw (tracked as CVE-2024-27867) is an authentication issue which affects AirPods (2nd generation and later), AirPods Pro (all models), AirPods Max, Powerbeats Pro and Beats Fit Pro headphones.

According to a new advisory from Apple, when your headphones are trying to connect with one of your previously paired devices, an attacker may be able to spoof the intended source device to gain access to your headphones. For this attack to work, the attacker would need to be within Bluetooth range.

If exploited, this flaw could allow an attacker to eavesdrop on any private conversations you're having on one of the best iPhones while connected to your AirPods or Beats headphones. Fortunately, Apple has already put out a firmware update to address this flaw.

To update your AirPods, you need to go to Settings and then Bluetooth and tap on the info button next to their name. From here, scroll down to the About section to find the firmware version and there, you’ll be able to update them to the latest firmware.

How to stay safe from hackers

A padlock resting next to the Apple logo on the lid of a gold-colored Apple laptop.

(Image credit: robert coolen/Shutterstock)

As you might have guessed, the first and most important thing you can do to stay safe from hackers is to keep your devices updated and running the latest software. Hackers often target devices running outdated software as they contain flaws that have yet to be patched. By updating frequently, though, you’ll be less likely to fall victim to their attacks.

Although Apple includes its own built-in antivirus software with macOS called XProtect, you should also consider using one of the best Mac antivirus software solutions alongside it for extra protection. 

Likewise, as there isn’t an iPhone equivalent of the best Android antivirus apps due to Apple’s own malware-scanning restrictions in iOS, you can use either Intego Mac Internet Security X9 or Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9 to scan your iPhone or iPad for viruses. There is a catch though. You need to connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac using a USB cable to scan them for malware.

While not nearly as dangerous as Mac malware, a vulnerability like this could still be used by hackers in their attacks which is why you should stop what you’re doing and update your AirPods right now. 

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Anthony Spadafora
Senior Editor Security and Networking

Anthony Spadafora is the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to password managers and the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. Before joining the team, he wrote for ITProPortal while living in Korea and later for TechRadar Pro after moving back to the US. Based in Houston, Texas, when he’s not writing Anthony can be found tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.