Protecting stolen devices - that's what Apple calls its latest iPhone security feature. This feature is set to be rolled out globally with the upcoming iOS 17.3 update and looks to be a godsend for iPhone users and a nightmare for thieves. It's now available in beta if you don't want to wait another week, which is when it will roll out to all iOS 17.3 compatible devices.
Apple's feature to protect stolen devices comes in response to a report by the Wall Street Journal that pointed to a glaring flaw in Apple's most coveted product - the iPhone. The flaw is that if someone gets hold of your password, they can choose to do nothing or completely destroy your digital life. The report included accounts of thieves frequenting bars to lure unsuspecting iPhone users into giving them their passcode, either directly or indirectly.
They would remember this four- or six-digit Apple code and then steal the user's iPhone. Once they got hold of the phone, they could do pretty much anything with it, as the passcode gave them full access. The thieves could then change settings, delete data or reset the iPhone to factory settings, or - in the worst case - gain access to sensitive data such as Apple ID, passwords and banking information stored on the phone.
They could also easily remove Find My, which would make the stolen iPhone untraceable. Apple took note and developed a solution - stolen device protection - which they hope will put stricter restrictions on making your iPhone impervious to such attacks. When the feature is enabled from settings, it will act as an extra layer of security, prompting you to use Face ID or Touch ID to do things like wipe iPhone completely or access your iCloud Keychain.
If you're planning to do something more extensive, like changing your Apple ID or turning off Find My, Apple will ask you to wait an hour or so after approval, and then require you to re-authenticate using Face ID or Touch ID again to make these changes. Apple notes that in areas like home and work that you visit most often, there should be no lag. Stolen device protection will be rolled out next week as part of the iOS 17.3 update for supported Apple iPhones.
The story of unsuspecting iPhone users falling into thieves' traps is a reminder to all of us of the importance of protecting our digital lives. With the increasing reliance on digital devices and the valuable information they contain, it is more important than ever to implement security features that can help protect our devices from theft and misuse. It is important to note that while this new feature is a step in the right direction, it is still important for users to be aware of their digital security. This includes changing passwords regularly, not sharing passwords with others, and being aware of suspicious activity on their devices.