NYPD Really Want you to Download iOS 7

by Istvan Fekete on September 23, 2013

Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 7, brings some great enhancements. These features even prompted the police in New York to hand out flyers explaining to Apple fans that iOS 7 brings benefits for users, as it makes it harder for a thief to turn off the Find My iPhone feature, thanks to the Activation Lock, a built-in security layer.

Fact is, iPhone and iPad theft is on the rise, both in the US and in Canada. The majority of the stolen iDevices end up overseas, sold for a good amount of money, and the authorities cannot do a thing: they have created a database of stolen smartphones, which is expected to launch in Canada as well sometime this fall. The problem with this database is that stolen iPhones can be restored, and the thief is able to install a clean iOS on them, which makes the Find My iPhone practically unusable in earlier versions of iOS.

But not with iOS 7. Apple’s latest mobile OS comes with a new feature called Activation Lock, which prevents thieves from erasing the iDevice and installing a clean version of iOS. It works just fine: when you activate the handset, you need to type in your iCloud password, and you need to do the same when restoring the device, otherwise it will prohibit the changes.

The feature is apparently the result of San Francisco District Attorney Frederic Gascón and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s joint push by tech companies for a built-in kill-switch to prevent smartphone theft.

The two have created the Secure Our Smartphones (SOS) initiative, which has tested the feature, and here is what they have to say about it: “After months of pressure from a global coalition of elected officials and law enforcement agencies, we are pleased that Apple is set to release a new mobile operating system that includes a theft deterrent feature called Activation Lock. This is an important first step towards ending the global epidemic of smartphone theft.

“In the months ahead, it is our hope that Activation Lock will prove to be an effective deterrent to theft, and that the widespread use of this new system will end the victimization of iPhone users, as thieves learn that the devices have no value on the secondary market. We are particularly pleased that – because Activation Lock is a feature associated with Apple’s new operating system as opposed to a new device – it will be available to consumers with older phone models who download the free upgrade.

But with the new Touch ID feature of the iPhone 5s, things change a bit, as the thief needs the owner’s fingerprint to unlock the phone, as well as the backup passcode. But Apple has sold nearly 700 million iDevices so far.

And since the NYPD has started recommending iOS 7, it means they’ve had enough of chasing iDevices across the globe.

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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