Apple is rolling out a new security feature designed to keep your iPhone safer from thieves. Stolen Device Protection, as the setting is called, requires Face ID or Touch ID authentication, but to keep more sensitive iCloud settings safe, it requires you to scan your face or enter a fingerprint a second time an hour later.
It's an optional feature that Apple recommends everyone turn on when the next full version of the iPhone operating system arrives. It's now available in the recently released developer beta of iOS 17.3 and is the latest feature Apple has added to help iPhone users protect their data and devices.
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The feature uses a new mechanism called Security Delay to make it harder for thieves and opportunists to access the most sensitive settings on iPhones, but it's designed not to obstruct everyday use – a tricky tightrope to walk. Once activated, the feature requires users to enter their biometric information (facial scan or fingerprint) over and over again after an hour – and no, you can't bypass it using a password.
Only certain settings will be locked in Stolen Device Protection, including changing your Apple ID password, updating your Apple ID account security settings (such as adding or changing recovery contacts), changing your iPhone password, turning off Find My, adding or removing Face ID or Touch ID and disabling Stolen Device Protection itself.
Crucially, a security delay won't be necessary if you're in a familiar location like home, work, or another location where you've spent a lot of time and regularly unlocked your phone. Apple hasn't clarified what makes a location trustworthy, but it won't just be places you've frequented and where you're connected to Wi-Fi (which would include places like bars or coffee shops, where you might encounter situations that Device Protection can protect against). Stolen was designed to protect).
Adding a second delayed biometric verification means that thieves or attackers who require an initial password and facial verification will not be able to quickly change device account ownership. It's a challenge to add protection without potentially worsening the situation, but an Apple representative said the company studied commonly reported scenarios to find an effective solution.
As mentioned, stolen device protection is in the iOS 17.3 developer beta available now, and Apple plans to include it in an upcoming public iOS 17 update.