Apple’s iOS 17 introduces an important new security feature called Stolen Device Protection for iPhone that aims to prevent unauthorized access to lost or stolen iPhones. This added layer of protection makes it much more difficult for thieves to misuse iPhones that fall into the wrong hands.
iPhones contain a wealth of sensitive personal and financial information, from saved passwords to credit card details and contact info. This makes them an attractive target for criminals looking to steal identities or access bank accounts. According to recent statistics, over 1.6 million smartphones are lost or stolen every year just in the United States alone.
To combat this growing threat, Apple has introduced Stolen Device Protection starting with iOS 17. This feature adds an extra authentication requirement using Face ID or Touch ID when accessing certain sensitive areas of the iPhone. It also prevents unauthorized changes to the Apple account or saved passwords.
Stolen Device Protection provides iPhone users with greater peace of mind that their data and accounts will remain secure even if their device is lost or stolen. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about using Stolen Device Protection on your iPhone.
How Stolen Device Protection Works
Stolen Device Protection leverages the security of Apple’s Face ID and Touch ID to restrict access to parts of a lost or stolen iPhone. It works by requiring biometric authentication using Face ID or Touch ID when a user tries to:
- Turn off Find My iPhone
- Erase the device
- Sign out of iCloud
- Sign in to a new iCloud account
- Access saved passwords in iCloud Keychain
Without authentication via Face ID or Touch ID, thieves cannot tamper with the Apple account or the saved passwords on the iPhone. This prevents them from turning off location tracking or erasing the device to resell it.
Stolen Device Protection also prevents anyone without the passcode from accessing the iPhone in recovery mode or DFU mode via USB connection. This restricts access to iPhone data through third-party tools.
Requirements for Enabling Stolen Device Protection
To use Stolen Device Protection on your iPhone, you need:
- An iPhone with Face ID – iPhone X or newer
- iOS 17 or later
- Find My enabled on your device
- A device protected by AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss coverage
The Find My app must already be enabled and the device must be protected by AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss before the iPhone is lost or stolen. This ensures that location tracking and locking remain active after the device goes missing.
If you don’t have AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss but want to enable Stolen Device Protection, you can purchase it from Apple within 60 days of your iPhone going missing.
How to Enable Stolen Device Protection
Enabling Stolen Device Protection on your iPhone is simple if you meet the requirements:
- Open the Find My app on your iPhone
- Tap the Devices tab
- Select your device
- Scroll down and toggle on Stolen Device Protection
That’s all there is to it! Stolen Device Protection will now be enabled on your iPhone. Make sure Find My remains enabled at all times so that you can track, lock, and wipe the device if needed after it goes missing.
Here are the key steps visually:
<table> <thead> <tr> <th>Step</th> <th>Screenshot</th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td>1. Open Find My app</td> <td><img src=”findmy-app-icon.png” alt=”Find My app icon” width=”100″ /></td> </tr> <tr> <td>2. Tap Devices tab</td> <td><img src=”findmy-devices-tab.png” alt=”Find My devices tab” width=”200″ /></td> </tr> <tr> <td>3. Select your device</td> <td><img src=”findmy-select-device.png” alt=”Select iPhone in Find My” width=”200″ /></td> </tr> <tr> <td>4. Toggle on Stolen Device Protection</td> <td><img src=”toggle-stolen-device-protection.png” alt=”Toggle on Stolen Device Protection” width=”200″ /></td> </tr> </tbody> </table>
How Stolen Device Protection Secures Your iPhone
Once enabled, Stolen Device Protection kicks in automatically if your iPhone is ever lost or stolen. Here’s what happens:
- Unauthorized Face ID/Touch ID attempts are blocked – If someone finds your iPhone and tries to unlock it with Face ID or Touch ID, they will be denied access after a few failed attempts.
- Settings changes are restricted – Without successfully authenticating with Face ID/Touch ID, the thief cannot turn off Find My, erase the device, create a new Apple ID, or access your saved passwords.
- USB restricted mode blocks data access – Connecting the iPhone via USB will not allow data access without entering the passcode first. This prevents iPhone hacking through recovery mode.
- Apple account changes are prevented – The thief cannot alter the Apple account on the iPhone, preventing them from disabling Find My network access.
- Passcode guessing is deterred – Brute force passcode attempts will be throttled, buying time for the real owner to track, lock, and wipe the missing device.
Combined, these protections make it extremely difficult for anyone besides the legitimate owner to misuse, reactivate, or sell an iPhone protected by Stolen Device Protection.
Tracking and Recovering a Lost or Stolen iPhone
If your iPhone does go missing even with Stolen Device Protection, don’t panic. As long as Find My is enabled, you can take steps to track, lock, and remotely wipe your device.
Here are the key actions to take:
- Use Find My to track the current or last known location – The Find My app will show the location on a map so you can cooperate with authorities to attempt recovery.
- Put your device in Lost Mode – This locks the iPhone with a passcode and shows your contact info on the lock screen. Lost Mode also suspends Apple Pay and credit cards on the device.
- Erase iPhone data remotely – If you believe the device is unrecoverable, use Find My to remotely wipe the entire iPhone, preventing any data access.
- Contact local law enforcement – File a police report about the stolen device and provide them with the location info from Find My to aid in recovery.
- Inform your carrier – Reporting the theft to your carrier can get the SIM blocked, further preventing misuse.
As long as Find My remains active, you maintain control over your iPhone and can track and secure it even after theft. Stolen Device Protection adds crucial extra barriers to prevent thieves from disabling Find My and breaking into your data.
When Stolen Device Protection Stops Working
Stolen Device Protection relies on Find My being enabled on your lost iPhone. If the thief successfully manages to turn off Find My, Stolen Device Protection will be disabled.
Without Find My active, the iPhone cannot receive remote locking commands or be tracked. At this point, the thief could theoretically perform a factory reset and reactivate the iPhone for resale or personal use.
To keep Stolen Device Protection working, it’s critical to never disable Find My on your iPhone. Set up Find My so it remains available even when the iPhone is offline. This gives you the best chance of tracking, locking, and wiping it after theft.
If Find My gets turned off, immediately try putting your device in Lost Mode from another Apple device you own which is signed in to the same Apple account. This may re-enable Find My on the lost iPhone before the thief can factory reset it.
Limitations of Stolen Device Protection
While very useful, Stolen Device Protection still has some limitations:
- It cannot prevent physical theft or loss of the iPhone in the first place. Proper caution is still needed when in public.
- If Find My gets disabled, Stolen Device Protection stops working. Find My must stay on for full protection.
- It only prevents certain account and settings changes. A thief could still use WiFi or cellular data from the stolen device freely.
- Advanced hackers may still find ways around some restrictions when device access is obtained. Total data protection is not guaranteed.
- It requires using Face ID or Touch ID, which have well-known flaws like coercing the owner to unlock. Other authentication methods may be more secure overall.
So while very helpful, Stolen Device Protection should not be considered completely foolproof. Sensible security habits are still important, like avoiding sketchy situations, using strong passcodes, and enabling full-disk encryption.
Who Can Benefit Most from Stolen Device Protection?
Stolen Device Protection offers the greatest benefit to these iPhone owners:
- Travelers – iPhones get lost or taken frequently when traveling in crowded areas. Stolen Device Protection makes misuse harder when devices go missing abroad.
- Students – Campus environments like libraries and dorms pose a higher theft risk. Stolen Device Protection helps students recover stolen devices more easily.
- Children – Kids and teenagers often lose or drop their iPhones. Stolen Device Protection allows parents to protect data on a child’s iPhone.
- Careless Owners – Those prone to losing devices or leaving them in unsafe places can gain more protection from theft or loss.
- Business Users – Companies that provide iPhones to employees get added protection against data breaches if a work device gets stolen.
- Anyone with Sensitive Data – For those who store compromising photos, financial details, or login credentials on their iPhone, Stolen Device Protection limits exposure.
While useful for any iPhone owner, those who store sensitive data or are in higher-risk situations can benefit the most from this added security.
Stolen Device Protection brings important advances in protecting lost or stolen iPhones on iOS 17. By requiring Face ID or Touch ID to access sensitive areas of the device, it prevents thieves and unknown users from disabling Find My, wiping the device, or accessing your personal data.
To get the full benefit, iPhone users should always keep Find My enabled and have AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss coverage on their device. While not foolproof, Stolen Device Protection meaningfully improves the odds of recovering and securing your iPhone if it falls into the wrong hands.
Combined with sensible precautions like avoiding unsafe areas, using strong passcodes, and encrypting data, Stolen Device Protection provides crucial new defenses against iPhone theft. For anyone who stores financial, medical, or other private information on their iPhone, enabling Stolen Device Protection greatly reduces stress and risk in case the worst happens.