Apple Is Testing A Key iOS Security Change To Thwart iPhone Thieves, How It Works

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Apple has included a key iOS security change with its latest iOS 17.3 beta for iPhone users aimed at keeping potential thieves from accessing pertinent personal data. When the new Stolen Device Protection feature is toggled on, it makes it to where the user has to use Face ID or Touch ID to gain access to critical actions.

A report earlier this year shared how a thief was able to ascertain critical personal information about an iPhone owner after obtaining the victim’s iPhone passcode before stealing the device. The thefts would often occur in public places, such as a nightclub or restaurant. Once the thief had the passcode, they could use it to view passwords in iCloud Keychain for banking and email accounts, as well as any other accounts listed. The loophole of sorts made it possible to essentially steal someone’s online identity.

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To combat this method of theft, Apple is testing a new feature named Stolen Device Protection in its current iOS 17.3 beta 1. When the feature is toggled on, biometric authentication, such as Face ID or Touch ID, is required for accessing certain actions. Those actions include things like viewing passwords or passkeys, ability to apply for an Apple Card, turning off Lost Mode, and other critical functions.

The new feature will also make it to where a user, the original owner or a thief, must authenticate with one of the biometric options and then wait an hour before having to authenticate once more. Apple reported that if the iPhone is a known location, such as a home or workplace, there will be no delay in being able to authenticate the second time. 

In a statement to The Verge, Apple spokesperson Scott Radcliffe remarked, “iPhone data encryption has long led the industry, and a thief can’t access data on a stolen iPhone without knowing the user’s passcode.” He continued, “In the rare cases where a thief can observe the user entering the passcode and then steal the device Stolen Device Protection adds a sophisticated new layer of protection.”

However, it all depends on the individual owner opting to turn on Stolen Device Protection. Even though thieves will know of the possibility that they may be thwarted in any attempt to gain critical owner information, they will still have it in the back of their mind that there will be those that do not want to be bothered with what comes with the added layer of protection.