Stolen Device Protection is a powerful new security feature introduced in iOS 17.3 beta to protect iPhones in case they fall into the wrong hands. It adds an extra layer of protection by requiring biometric authentication via Face ID or Touch ID to access sensitive information and make changes to your Apple ID account when your iPhone is not in a trusted location.
What is Stolen Device Protection?
Stolen Device Protection has been designed by Apple to combat increasing incidents of iPhone thefts, where criminals spy on iPhone owners to steal their passcodes and gain full access to their devices.
Once enabled, the feature restricts access to sensitive actions like changing your Apple ID password, disabling Find My, and erasing your iPhone when it is not in a trusted location like your home or workplace. An additional one-hour security delay is also enforced for the most sensitive actions like changing your Apple ID password.
How Stolen Device Protection Works?
Stolen Device Protection utilizes a combination of location services, biometric authentication, and security delays to protect your iPhone and Apple account if it falls into the wrong hands.
Here are the key aspects of how it works:
- Location Tracking: The feature determines whether your iPhone is at a familiar location like home or work where regular access is expected. More security protections are activated when your phone is detected at an unfamiliar location.
- Biometric Authentication: Sensitive actions require authentication via Face ID or Touch ID when Stolen Device Protection is enabled. Criminals can no longer rely solely on passcode access.
- One Hour Security Delay: A one hour delay is mandated for the most sensitive account changes like updating your Apple ID password or account security when iPhone is not in a trusted location. An additional biometric scan is required after the delay.
- Control Center: Quick access to disabling Stolen Device Protection is removed in Control Center. It can only be switched off in Settings.
How to Activate Stolen Device Protection?
Enabling Stolen Device Protection is simple and takes just a few steps once you’ve updated to iOS 17.3:
- Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
- Navigate to Face ID & Passcode (or Touch ID & Passcode on older devices).
- Scroll down and tap on Stolen Device Protection.
- Toggle on the switch next to Stolen Device Protection.
- You will get a prompt explaining how the feature works – tap Turn On to confirm.
Stolen Device Protection is now activated and will automatically protect your iPhone if it ends up away from your trusted locations.
Actions Protected by Stolen Device Protection
When your iPhone is not in a familiar location, Stolen Device Protection restricts access to the following sensitive areas and actions on your device:
- Viewing or using passwords stored 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 Wallet actions like Apple Cash transfers
- Using payment methods saved in Safari
- Setting up a new iPhone device with your current one
- Changing your Apple ID password
- Updating Apple ID account security settings like adding trusted devices or phone numbers
- Changing your iPhone passcode
- Adding or removing Face ID or Touch ID
- Turning off Find My
- Turning off Stolen Device Protection
Will Stolen Device Protection Brick My iPhone?
A common concern is whether Stolen Device Protection can essentially brick your iPhone if you are unable to authenticate.
The feature is designed in a balanced way to improve security without hampering regular usage. Your iPhone will function normally in trusted locations designated as home or work and the security measures will seamlessly activate only when the device detects it is elsewhere.
In the rare case your biometric authentication fails, your iPhone will allow you to enter your passcode instead to gain access. The only extra precaution is the one hour delay for sensitive account changes.
So, you don’t need to worry about getting permanently locked out of your iPhone. As an extra safeguard, you can also use Apple’s recovery options for regaining access to your Apple ID account if required.
Why is “Stolen Device Protection” Available on My iPhone?
As of now, the Stolen Device Protection feature is available only on iOS 17.3 beta, so iOS 17.2 will not show it. This update is likely to be available for all users in early January 2024. Once iOS 17.3 rolls out for users, you will get this security feature.