iOS 7's 'Activation Lock' Delivers Cautious Optimism to Officials Concerned Over Mobile Device Thefts

MacRumors

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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One of the new iOS 7 features introduced by Craig Federighi at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote yesterday was Activation Lock, which aims to reduce the appeal of Apple devices to thieves by preventing stolen phones from being activated by new users.
There's one feature I want to talk about in a little more detail, which is Activation Lock. So, hundreds of millions of use Find My iPhone to find our phone when it's just lost in the couch, or maybe left at Starbucks, but also when it's been stolen. And now, with Activation Lock, if a thief tries to turn off Find My iPhone, or if they even wipe the device entirely, they will not be able to reactivate it because they don't know your iCloud user name and password. We think this is going to be a really powerful theft deterrent.
Apple's announcement comes just days before a summit scheduled by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón in which the officials are to meet with representatives of Apple, Google, Samsung, and Microsoft to discuss issues related to mobile device theft. The officials have been pushing manufacturers and carriers to find ways to disable stolen devices in hopes of making them less desirable to thieves.

As noted by the Associated Press, Schneiderman and Gascón released a statement yesterday addressing Apple's activation lock and noting they are cautiously optimistic about the announcement while waiting to hear more details about how it works.
"We are appreciative of the gesture made by Apple to address smartphone theft. We reserve judgment on the activation lock feature until we can understand its actual functionality," the prosecutors said in a joint written statement. [...]

"We are hopeful that the cellphone industry will imbed persistent technology that is free to consumers that will make a phone inoperable once stolen, even if the device is off, the SIM card is removed or the phone is modified by a thief to avoid detection," the prosecutors said.
The summit is scheduled for this Thursday in New York City, and Apple will presumably share more information about Activation Lock with the officials at that time to help them understand its benefits and limitations.

Article Link: iOS 7's 'Activation Lock' Delivers Cautious Optimism to Officials Concerned Over Mobile Device Thefts
 

Smartass

macrumors 65816
Dec 18, 2012
1,177
1,067
finally somebody took the initiative about this. I hope more and more companies follow Apple and make this.
 

newdeal

macrumors 68020
Oct 21, 2009
2,361
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...

This also benefits apple as people will be more cautious about buying used devices and once horror stories start circulating of people buying devices on craigslist/kijiji that won't activate it will effectively kill the used market quite likely
 

madsci954

macrumors 68030
Oct 14, 2011
2,667
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Ohio
So the Activation Lock still kicks in when the phone is wiped, if Find My iPhone is on but not in Lost mode?
 
S

syd430

Guest
I'd be really excited when it's possible to actually track a phone even after a clean install. I suspect a lot of thieves know to switch the phone right off and wipe the OS.

Just need a solution to the problem of legitimate second hand sales for this to work though.
 
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Marbles1

macrumors member
Nov 27, 2011
56
0
My guess is that before you give the phone to someone else, you'd unlock it, and choose an option to 'transfer owner' or 'open phone for transfer'; enter your username and password, and then the phone would be totally unlocked. Obviously you'd only do this when you are about to sell it i.e. literally putting it in the envelope to send to the buyer.

By not enabling 'open mode' the phone should remain in a 'fixed to specific itunes account' state, preventing anyone else from resetting it, or wiping it.

I would like to see how this works though, surely it will be hacked very quickly.... Still if it stops casual thiefs that's great.
 

Superdrive

macrumors 6502a
Oct 21, 2003
762
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Dallas, Tx
Do the new Control Center toggles from the Lock Screen require any password? This feature may not do much if the thief flips the phone into Airplane Mode before it gets wiped.
 

kot

macrumors regular
Sep 10, 2011
161
0
I don't think this will be much of a theft deterrent, because thieves will just visit the nearest basement where a big bearded nerd shorts this with that and the phone is fresh as new. Or just erase the chip storing AppleID information and the phone is again like new. Or replace the chip. They will find a way.
 

Syk

macrumors 6502a
Jun 20, 2010
818
94
It's a start but how does it work? Will the user be able to do this or will it be something that has to be done by Apple.

My only concern is someone sells their iDevice to someone and then bricks it or what if the person who stole it got home and reloaded it before you could get home to brick it...
 

gm713

macrumors newbie
Sep 19, 2012
19
0
My guess is that before you give the phone to someone else, you'd unlock it, and choose an option to 'transfer owner' or 'open phone for transfer'; enter your username and password, and then the phone would be totally unlocked. Obviously you'd only do this when you are about to sell it i.e. literally putting it in the envelope to send to the buyer.

By not enabling 'open mode' the phone should remain in a 'fixed to specific itunes account' state, preventing anyone else from resetting it, or wiping it.

I would like to see how this works though, surely it will be hacked very quickly.... Still if it stops casual thiefs that's great.
I think the master reset will be gated, but I don't the actual copy/verbiage will change. Fundamentally we're saying the same thing.
 

NoNothing

macrumors 6502
Aug 9, 2003
444
475
Do the new Control Center toggles from the Lock Screen require any password? This feature may not do much if the thief flips the phone into Airplane Mode before it gets wiped.
It is still active even after the wipe. I am sure it will be defeated but it will make it more of a hassle for many a petty thief.
 

quagmire

macrumors 603
Apr 19, 2004
6,293
1,070
So what if the phone is wiped and reactivated before the user gets the chance to do what ever is needed to prevent the reactivation?
 

ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
8,574
4,005
I don't think this will be much of a theft deterrent, because thieves will just visit the nearest basement where a big bearded nerd shorts this with that and the phone is fresh as new. Or just erase the chip storing AppleID information and the phone is again like new. Or replace the chip. They will find a way.
Maybe, or maybe not. They just need to make it difficult enough to restore the phone to a sellable state that nobody is willing to go through the effort of stealing it, getting it back to a working state, and selling it for less than it could be gotten by legal means.
 

mrxak

macrumors 68000
I've never understood why law enforcement was angry at Apple over iPhone thefts. Maybe they should do their freaking jobs and catch thieves? I'm all for Apple making their products harder to steal, but how lazy are cops anyway? Just goes to show you personal responsibility is always better than the police since they will do nothing to save you and your property.
 

smithrh

macrumors 68020
Feb 28, 2009
2,471
845
I don't think this will be much of a theft deterrent, because thieves will just visit the nearest basement where a big bearded nerd shorts this with that and the phone is fresh as new. Or just erase the chip storing AppleID information and the phone is again like new. Or replace the chip. They will find a way.
There's some truth in this - I'm impressed, in an odd sort of way, how things eventually get hacked.

However, if the hack is complicated enough, then the barrier will be high enough to be a deterrent.

In addition, for a while, there won't be any hack at all, and any iOS7 phone will be viewed as non-resellable, both from the thief's POV and the buyer's POV.

If that time period is long enough, then the word will spread and the theft rate should, theoretically, go down.

Most thieves understand risk - if they're taking something for a possibility of no gain at all, they'll tend to avoid that.
 

GSPice

macrumors 68000
Nov 24, 2008
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"...We reserve judgment on the activation lock feature until we can understand its actual functionality," the prosecutors said in a joint written statement.
Which will be, well, never.
 

Tinmania

macrumors 68040
Aug 8, 2011
3,455
905
Aridzona
I really like that this feature is controlled by us users, and not the carrier/Apple. I envisioned a real pain in the a$$ if Apple pulled the kill switch due to a mistake or whatever (disgruntled ex, previous owner?). Trying to fix it would be a nightmare. This way we control it. I am assuming there is a way to disassociate the device when selling so the buyer can then control it.



Michael