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New iOS 17.3 feature will keep a thief out of your iPhone and your banking apps

by Contributor

Now that Apple released iOS 17.2, the first iOS 17.3 developer beta has been released and includes a new feature that might frustrate iPhone thieves. Stolen Device Protection uses certain tools to prevent criminals from employing a stolen iPhone passcode to have the run of an iPhone that is at a location normally not associated with the owner of the device. If an iPhone is at such a location and Stolen Device Protection is enabled, the handset will require that Face ID or Touch ID be used before allowing certain actions to be made.

Stolen Device Protection relies on biometric tools to keep thieves out of your iPhone

Actions that require either Face ID or Touch ID when an iPhone is in an unusual location include viewing passwords stored on the device and wiping the phone. A one-hour delay will be called for when creating a new Apple ID password. After the hour, Face ID or Touch ID will still be required to change the password. The delay is essentially buying time for the owner to report his phone stolen.

Other actions that require biometric approval when Stolen Device Protection is enabled and an iPhone is away from the user’s usual locations include applying for an Apple Card, turning off Lost Mode, and accessing and using payment methods stored in Safari. If Face ID or Touch ID fails and Stolen Device Protection is enabled, the user cannot use his/her passcode to sign in.

Per MacRumors, the following actions will require Face ID or Touch ID when Stolen Device Protection is enabled:

  • Viewing/using passwords or passkeys saved in iCloud Keychain
  • Applying for a new Apple Card
  • Viewing an Apple Card virtual card
  • Turning off Lost Mode
  • Erasing all content and settings
  • Taking certain Apple Cash and Savings actions in Wallet
  • Using payment methods saved in Safari
  • Using your iPhone to set up a new device
The following actions require Face ID or Touch ID and the final action is delayed by one hour:
  • Changing your Apple ID password
  • Updating select Apple ID account security settings, including adding or removing a trusted device, trusted phone number, Recovery Key, or Recovery Contact
  • Changing your iPhone passcode
  • Adding or removing Face ID or Touch ID
  • Turning off Find My
  • Turning off Stolen Device Protection

Stolen Device Protection is supposed to prevent a scam that starts when someone makes friends with an iPhone user or spies on one in order to obtain his/her passcode. Sometimes this is done by looking over the shoulder of the iPhone user or by asking to see a photograph and watching as the iPhone user unlocks his handset using his/her passcode.

How to enable Stolen Device Protection in the first developer beta of iOS 17.3

The thief then steals the iPhone, enters the purloined passcode, resets the Apple ID password, disables Find My, performs a factory reset, and sells the device. A working iPhone is more valuable in the black market than one that is locked down; the latter device is generally sold for parts. Alternately, the thief could use the passcode to steal passwords for banking and other financial apps, email passwords, and more that are stored in the iCloud Keychain.

If Apple keeps the new feature in the final version of iOS 17.3, most iPhone users won’t get this feature until sometime early next year. If you installed the first developer beta of iOS 17.3, you can enable Stolen Device Protection by going to Settings > Face ID & Passcode > Stolen Device Protection.

In a statement, Apple said, “As threats to user devices continue to evolve, we work tirelessly to develop powerful new protections for our users and their data. 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. 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.”

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