The iOS security feature destroys 66,000 iPhones: how to make sure your thing is not the next thing

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In 1996, I was lucky enough to win the “Technology Journal of the Year” award in the UK for rapidly evolving Internet security threat research. I have encouraged people to take security seriously since then.

The perfect technological storm of an omnipresent Internet, incredibly fast mobile broadband speed and the computer in your pocket that makes your smartphone make this message more relevant than ever. Therefore, it might be surprising that I suggest disabling one of the most important security features offered by iPhone.

What’s the problem?

A new Colorado Interest Interest Research Group (CoPIRG) report revealed that, over the past three years, an electronic product recycling center in Colorado had to destroy 66,000 iPhones instead of being reused. All thanks to an iOS security feature. The Wireless Alliance, which received more than six million phones donated for recycling between 2015 and 2018, said the iPhones in question were “perfectly reusable” but had to be divided into parts rather than enter the used smartphone market .

Reuse prior to mantra recycling resonates with those who want to empower less well-off consumers and reduce the environmental impact of producing new phones in the same way. So what is the iOS security feature that is causing the problem? The answer is the iPhone activation block which is part of the Find My iPhone feature.

When an iPhone user activates Find My iPhone, the activation block is automatically enabled. It works by securely storing the Apple ID on Apple activation servers and connecting it to the device. To disable Find My iPhone or restore iPhone at the factory to erase all data, the Apple ID password is required.

This is an excellent security feature, as you can easily put a lost or stolen iPhone in “Lost mode”, which locks the screen and shows a personalized message to help you recover it if you find it. Apple says “While the activation block works in the background to make it more difficult for someone to use or sell the lost device, the lost mode clearly indicates to anyone who finds their device that still owns it and cannot be reactivated without it. password. “

What does CoPIRG say?

While acknowledging that an activation block can discourage thieves by making the iPhone stolen a much less valuable proposition, it also requires that all phones that can be reused be reused. One in four of the iPhones that were donated to The Wireless Alliance last year activated the block and the relationship grows year after year.

“There is no current system in which companies like The Wireless Alliance can dial blocked phones with non-stolen activation by manufacturers”, the CoPRIG report states, continuing “if the original owner does not collect the lock on the phone, the lock is permanent.” addressing this permanence problem, CoPIRG suggests that there should be a better balance between the deterrent to theft and the fact that accredited and accredited recyclers deactivate the activation blocks.

Suggests that a system could be introduced by which the recycling organization will send International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers to the manufacturer, which will then send a notification to the current original owner’s device that requests verification that the device was donated for recycling.

What should you do?

I would like to start by saying what not to do, ie disabling the Find My iPhone function. This, as I said, is an important part of the security ecosystem that covers your iPhone and helps protect your data privacy. You should also continue to donate your old iPhone to a certified recycling center when upgrading so that it can be reused.

Just remember to turn off Find My iPhone and then the activation lock before donating it. I also advise you to securely erase your iPhone to ensure that none of your data is stored. This is easily done by going to Settings | General | Reset and then select Delete all content.

You must enter your password, after which a notice will ask you if you are sure. Press the red button Delete iPhone, enter your Apple ID password to confirm and your iPhone will return to the factory default settings.

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