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iOS 17.3+: Strengthening iPhone Security Against Theft

Our iPhones hold a treasure trove of information, from family photos or videos to financial information, making them prime targets for theft. While a passcode offers a first line of defense, iOS 17.3+ introduces a new security feature called Stolen Device Protection [*], adding an extra layer of safeguard against unauthorized access. Let’s explore how it enhances your 

iPhone’s security and the threats it protects against.

The Shoulder Surfing 

You’ve heard the warnings – be cautious when entering your passcode in public. Shoulder surfers, cunning thieves who observe passcode entries, can exploit this vulnerability. A stolen glance can compromise your digital life even if your passcode remains solid and unique.

Enter Stolen Device Protection

Here’s where Stolen Device Protection comes in. This feature acts as a secondary security checkpoint when your iPhone is in an unfamiliar location (think a coffee shop or a crowded bus). Even if someone unlocks your phone with your passcode, critical actions require additional verification through Face ID or Touch ID. This significantly reduces the risk of shoulder surfers, as they won’t possess your biometric data (fingerprint or facial recognition) to bypass this checkpoint.

What Does It Protect?

Stolen Device Protection throws a wrench into a thief’s plans by safeguarding these critical functions:

  • Passcode and Apple ID Changes: Altering your passcode or Apple ID password grants complete control over your device and account. Stolen Device Protection prevents these changes without biometric verification, hindering the thief’s ability to lock you out.
  • Disabling Find My: “Find My” is crucial for locating your lost or stolen iPhone. This feature prevents thieves from turning it off, making recovery much more likely.
  • Data Erasure: A stolen phone’s data is highly vulnerable. Stolen Device Protection makes it impossible to erase all content and settings without biometric verification, protecting sensitive information.
  • Apple Card Applications: This feature safeguards your financial well-being by requiring biometric verification for new Apple Card applications, preventing unauthorized spending sprees.

Beyond Shoulder Surfing

Stolen Device Protection offers a broader security benefit. Even if your phone is lost and not actively stolen, misplaced devices can be vulnerable if someone stumbles upon them. This extra layer of security ensures unauthorized access remains difficult in such scenarios.

The Takeaway

Stolen Device Protection in iOS 17.3+ is valuable to your iPhone’s security arsenal. Mitigating the risks of shoulder surfers and safeguarding critical functions makes your device significantly less vulnerable to theft or loss. Remember, prevention is always better than cure.

[*] How-To Guide: https://support.apple.com/en-my/guide/iphone/iph17105538b/ios