Recently, there have been increasing instances of thieves spying on an iPhone user's passcode in public and then stealing the device in order to gain widespread access to the device and its contents. Apple aims to tackle this growing concern with its latest security feature in iOS 17.3, Stolen Device Protection.
This security feature is designed to protect your data in the event of physical theft. Even if someone steals your iPhone and obtains your passcode, this extra layer of security makes it much harder for them to access your sensitive data or change your Apple ID password.
This comprehensive guide will delve into what Stolen Device Protection is, how it significantly enhances the security of your iPhone, and step-by-step instructions on how to enable this crucial feature. Before that, make sure you update to iOS 17.2, if you haven't already.
What is Stolen Device Protection in iOS 17.3?
In current iOS versions, if a thief obtains your iPhone and knows your passcode, they can change your Apple ID password, disable Find My iPhone, access sensitive information like account and credit card details, and then sell the device for profit.
The Stolen Device Protection in iOS 17.3 aims to prevent a thief who knows your passcode from accessing your data and making changes to your device or Apple ID. It requires biometric authentication (like Face ID or Touch ID) for these actions, with no option to use the passcode as an alternative.
Some actions require a two-step verification process. After the initial biometric authentication, there's a mandatory one-hour wait before a second authentication with Face ID or Touch ID. This added step creates an extra hurdle for thieves, protecting your data and giving you time to possibly recover your stolen iPhone.
It's important to note that the one-hour delay in iOS 17.3's Stolen Device Protection doesn't apply in trusted locations such as your home or workplace. This ensures a convenient and uninterrupted user experience in familiar environments.
Here are the actions that will require Face ID or Touch ID authentication when Stolen Device Protection is activated in iOS 17:
- 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
Here are the actions that will require Face ID or Touch ID authentication and a one-hour security delay when Stolen Device Protection is activated in iOS 17:
- 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
Overall, iOS 17.3's Stolen Device Protection significantly enhances iPhone security. Your passcode is the first gate, but Stolen Device Protection throws up a fortress behind it, guarded by your unique biometrics and a time-delay defence. This double-layered defence makes your iPhone much more secure against theft.
How to enable Stolen Device Protection on iPhone
Stolen Device Protection is an optional feature and it is disabled by default. To enable Stolen Device Protection on your iPhone, navigate to Settings > Face ID & Passcode and toggle on the switch next to Stolen Device Protection.
iOS 17.3 is currently in beta and it is likely to be released to the public in January or February 2024. When it ships, this security feature will be available on all iPhone models that are compatible with iOS 17, including the iPhone XS and newer.
That covers everything about Stolen Device Protection in iOS 17.3. Before you head off, make sure you check out how to cancel your Apple iOS subscriptions and how to make a contact card on your iPhone.