Stolen Device Protection

First introduced in iOS 17.3, the Stolen Device Protection security feature is designed to prevent unauthorized access to your data and accounts if your iPhone is lost or stolen.

How Stolen Device Protection Works

When enabled, Stolen Device Protection requires Face ID or Touch ID authentication for specific actions on your iPhone when it is away from familiar locations like your home or work. This includes accessing passwords and credit cards stored in Keychain, using saved payment methods in Safari, and making changes to Find My and Apple ID settings.

In addition, a security delay of one hour is triggered before you can make critical changes like turning off Find My, erasing the device, or removing Stolen Device Protection. This delay is meant to prevent thieves from being able to perform these actions quickly.

What's New in iOS 17.4

The iOS 17.4 update builds upon the initial version of Stolen Device Protection in a couple of crucial ways:

  1. You can always keep Stolen Device Protection on, regardless of location. Previously, it only activated when away from familiar places.

  2. Attempting to turn off Stolen Device Protection when not at a known location will start the security delay before you can disable it, providing an additional safeguard.

Importance of Find My and Activation Lock

Stolen Device Protection works with the Find My app and Activation Lock to secure your iPhone. Find My allows you to locate and mark a missing device as lost, lock it, or erase it remotely.

Activation Lock prevents anyone else from using your iPhone if it is lost or stolen. When Find My is enabled, your Apple ID is securely stored on Apple's activation servers and linked to your device. This means your Apple ID password or device passcode is required before Find My can be turned off, the device erased, or reactivated.

Enabling Stolen Device Protection

To turn on this feature, your iPhone must be running iOS 17.3 or later and have the following enabled:

  • Two-factor authentication for your Apple ID
  • A device passcode
  • Face ID or Touch ID
  • Find My
  • Significant Locations (in Location Services settings)

Then navigate to Settings > Face ID & Passcode, enter your passcode, and toggle on Stolen Device Protection.

Remote Erase as a Last Resort

If you can't recover a lost or stolen iPhone, erasing it remotely using Find My should be a last resort. A remote wipe deletes all data on the device, but the custom message you set when marking it as lost will still display.

Remember that the device needs to be powered on and have a network connection to receive the remote erase command. Regularly backing up your iPhone is crucial in case you ever need to restore your data to a new device.

In conjunction with Find My and Activation Lock, Stolen Device Protection provides multiple layers of defense to help keep your data safe, even if your iPhone ends up in the wrong hands.

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