Apple Compensates Victim of iMessage Bug for Breach of Privacy

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    In December, an apparent bug appeared in Apple's iMessage service that allowed iMessages to be sent to a stolen iPhone. The messages can, apparently, continue to be sent and received from the stolen phone after a remote wipe and a SIM card deactivation. This is obviously an unintended action, and though Apple explains the solution to be "toggle iMessage on and off" in the Settings app, that is an impossible act to perform remotely on a stolen phone.

    The Next Web today reports of the case of an anonymous Apple customer who had her iPhone stolen and the lengthy discussions she had with Apple afterwards.


    After her iPhone was stolen, Customer K had her SIM card deactivated. However, her friends told her that iMessages they sent continued to be delivered to the stolen iPhone because she hadn't invoked Find My iPhone's Remote Wipe feature. Apple's technical support personnel suggested a wide variety of solutions to prevent her messages from being sent to the other iPhone.

    Suggestions to reset her Apple ID password, insert her SIM card into another iOS device, among others, made sense. One request, that she contact her friends and tell them to stop sending her iMessages, Customer K thought was completely unreasonable -- not to mention impractical.

    Eventually, nearly 6 weeks after her phone was initially stolen, Apple did finally figure out a unique solution:
    After the problem was finally solved, the customer continued to push Apple on the issue of compensation and was directed to Apple's legal department. She informed Apple Legal that she was troubled by the length of time that it took to prevent the iMessages from going to the stolen phone and wanted compensation for the extensive breach of privacy.

    Eventually, after a phone discussion with Apple legal, K was offered an iPod Touch as compensation for her trouble. Apple claimed it would give her a device with which to receive iMessages.

    Apple has still not commented on the matter, but one theory is that the iMessage servers permanently link the UDID number of a particular handset to an Apple ID, so it knows what handset to deliver iMessages to. Messages continue to be sent to a stolen iPhone until iMessage is manually toggled on and off -- a task that is impossible to perform on a stolen phone.

    Article Link: Apple Compensates Victim of iMessage Bug for Breach of Privacy
  2. macrumors 6502a

    Apr 1, 2008
    I would've told them an iPad 2 can get iMessages too!
  3. macrumors G3


    Mar 20, 2007
    Should have compensated her with a new iPhone instead of iPod touch. Or if she had already bought a new one, refunded what she paid with an Apple Gift Card.

    "Here's an iPod touch so you can receive iMessages again, but don't lose it! We don't want to go through all this again!"
  4. macrumors regular


    Feb 19, 2011
    This needs fixing. A simple option on to unlink devices from your iMessages is what should be done in my opinion.
  5. macrumors 68040


    Nov 8, 2007
    this story makes absolutely no sense to me..

    if her sim card is deactivated, that means her phone number is no longer associated with the sim card. how are messages being sent to the device?
  6. goobot, Feb 6, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012

    macrumors 601


    Jun 26, 2009
    long island NY
    I'm not siding with apple here, but she didn't want to use find my iPhones wipe feature? That seems like that is completely on her. Also see couldn't have just changed her password, and then change it back either? It seems she wasn't that cooperative if I'm reading this correctly.
  7. macrumors 603


    Oct 13, 2008
    Everywhere And Nowhere
  8. macrumors 68000


    Jul 19, 2002
    Did she deem changing her password unreasonable, or did that not work?

    There should be a better solution but I don't find changing your password to be unreasonable!

    Ok reading the full article it vaguely explains that changing her password did not solve the issue - strange.
  9. macrumors 6502

    Oct 26, 2007
    ....Breach of privacy, a major thing in the eyes of many Judges, and she gets paid off with an iPod Touch? I'd honestly want financial compensation for this if it happened to me.
  10. Contributing Editor


    Jun 2, 2011
    Durango, CO
    I edited slightly to clarify that it was only the advice to tell her friends to stop sending her messages that she found unreasonable.

    Changing her password was reasonable, but ineffective.
  11. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2009
    Seattle, WA
    Wouldnt someone who steals an iPhone want to restore it anyway to get rid of the other persons stuff? I guess thieves really must be dumber than I thought.
  12. macrumors 68020


    Jul 11, 2007
    Torrance, CA
    iMessage can use your email address as well as your phone number. Like FaceTime.
  13. ski1ski1, Feb 6, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012

    macrumors regular

    Nov 30, 2007
    Because unlike regular txt messages, iMessage is linked to the UDID of your phone, not not sim card. This is how it works even via wifi. The phone number or iTunes email address is used as an ID to send/receive iMessages. But there is a major design flaw. Apple uses to the sim card to verify the phone number for iMessage. But it only verifies the sim card upon initial iMessage activation. If the sim card is removed, deactivated, or replaced with a different sim, the Apple servers will still send iMessages to the phone via wifi. Or cellular data, if it has another valid sim card. Even one with a different number. This is because the iMessage phone number is linked on Apple's servers to the UDID of the phone, not the sim. This link on Apple's servers will remain until iMessage is manually deactivated in the phone's settings. Which is impossible if you lose your phone, or already sold it. Apple has known about this design flaw for over two months. I don't understand why Apple still has not fixed this major privacy issue.
  14. JamesGorman, Feb 6, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012

    macrumors 65816


    Dec 31, 2008
  15. ski1ski1, Feb 6, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012

    macrumors regular

    Nov 30, 2007
    It also uses your phone number for an ID as a secondary way to send a iMessage. But the phone number for the device is only checked upon initial iMessage activation via the sim. If the sim is deactivated, replaced, or removed, without you deactivating iMessage in the phone's settings, iMessages will still be sent to the phone via the link on Apple's servers between the phone number and the Phone's UDID. iMessages are sent over wifi or cellular data. That's why even changing you iTunes password still won't stop it, unless the person sending the iMessage is using your iTunes email address as the ID, instead of your phone number.
  16. macrumors 601


    Sep 16, 2007
    Northeastern Ohio
    If apple was able to "push" code, then they should have disabled the phone completely then. Then the stolen iPhone black market would seize to exist.
  17. macrumors 6502

    Oct 5, 2003
    So what are the exact steps I need to do before I sell my iPhone 4 when the iPhone 5 comes out?

    Is it remove SIM, turn off iMessage, restore iPhone, turn on iMessage with no SIM?

    I think Apple will need to provide detailed instructions on this, because this will be a big issue when the new iPhone comes out.
  18. macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    Let’s hope the lessons learned in this instance turn into a broad, SOP solution.
  19. macrumors G4


    Feb 5, 2009
    She actually pushed Apple legal on this . . . she wanted $$$.

  20. macrumors 604


    Nov 26, 2007
    Unless they're of the creepy stalker without any life of their own variety.
  21. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 30, 2006
    Yes, I believe that is the way to stop this from happening if you sell the iPhone. The problem becomes more muddied when the iPhone is stolen. Then you can't physically turn off iMessages or remove the SIM. To prevent iMessage from popping up on a stolen iPhone, you need to remote wipe that phone and call AT&T to deactivate the SIM. Not sure how this works (or is a problem) with Verizon/Sprint, but I assume you call them to disable the ESN.

    The Verge had a good write up on it a few days ago:
  22. macrumors 68020


    Apr 4, 2005
    Dallas, TX
    would it work the same if they associated iMessage with an email address instead of phone number?
  23. macrumors member

    Apr 23, 2009


    If my iPhone is stolen, I should be able to file a police report then forward that report to Apple along with a request to wipe, disable and lock the phone.

    Another idea would be to only allow a reset of the phone with your Apple ID and password. If Apple products failed to work after being stolen, they would not be stoled.
  24. macrumors 6502

    Dec 19, 2006
    Because the stolen phone isn't in your possession?
  25. macrumors member

    Jul 5, 2011
    probably money compensation under the table

    The person probably got monetary compensation in addition to the iPod. No doubt if it took 6 weeks to get the messages turned off this customer has more anger than what an iPod can quash.

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