iPhone Theft Drops Thanks to Apple Kill Switch

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One of the most frequently requested smartphone security features finally came to the iPhone last year, and it’s already having a major impact. iOS Activation Lock is a swift move by Apple to deter potential thieves from eying the iPhone.

A new report from Reuters found that iPhone theft dropped by 50 percent in London, 40 percent in San Francisco and 25 percent in New York. The drops represent theft activity as measured during the 12 months following Apple’s introduction of the remote locking feature in September 2013 as part of iOS 7. With iOS 8, Apple made its so-called said “kill switch” active by default. Thanks to the ‘kill switch’ which pretty much reduces your iPhone to an expensive paper weight, offering no way out other than unlocking it with a legit Apple ID and password.

More and more manufacturers have been adding kill switches to their devices in an attempt to reduce the amount of smartphones that are stolen. Some smartphone makers are still resisting making the kill switch a default feature, instead asking users to turn it on after they’ve activated their phones. These kill switches make it much harder for stolen phones to be used, which has had an effect on reducing the amount of devices that are stolen.

Apple’s Activation Lock requires a user to authorize a wipe or fresh install using the existing iCloud credentials on record, ensuring that a thief can’t go ahead and just wipe the device easily to use it themselves or prepare it for sale on the secondary market. Apple is one of the first major manufacturers to switch to implementing the system by default, rather than through user opt-in, which means it should be present on far more devices.

Apple seems committed to coming up with new ways to protect user devices and data when it comes to theft, given its early pioneering of phone tracking tech via Find My iPhone. Patents awarded Apple have also described systems whereby the phone requires positive ID of the user to even display an unlock prompt, and tech which can monitor and report on unidentified users in the background.