During Apple’s opening WWDC opening presentation this past Monday, Craig Federighi, VP of Software Engineering, introduced a tighter “activation lock” for iOS 7, to be released this Fall. The new security feature is designed to prevent a thief from reactivating a stolen iPhone, or turning off the Find My iPhone signal without the owner’s iCloud username and password. Federighi concluded by saying, “We think this is going to be a powerful theft deterrent.”
According to Huffington Post, about 1.6 million iPhones were stolen in the U.S. last year. Other reports say that over 160 iPhones, and over 314 mobile phones are stolen every day in London. Law enforcement has previously criticized Apple and other mobile phone providers for not offering better mobile phone security or embedding persistent technology to prevent phones from being inoperable once they are stolen.
Most iPhone users log into their iCloud account and attempt to use Apple’s Find My iPhone feature and service to locate their phone when it’s misplaced, lost, or stolen; that is if they previously activated their iPhone on their iCloud account. The feature works well as long as the iPhone is turned on and not wiped. But skillful thieves know to turn off an iPhone and wipe it before it can be located by the Find My iPhone GPS mapping system.
Even if iPhone owners are themselves able to remotely wipe their stolen iPhone using the system, it doesn’t keep a stolen iPhone from being reactivated by someone else. Because an Apple ID is required to activate an iPhone, the new activation lock feature should greatly reduce the number of stolen phones that end up in far away places.