Security Experts Perform Stress Test on iOS 7 Activation Lock

The recently formed S.O.S (Secure Our Smartphone) initiative founded by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, is becoming active: they brought state and federal security experts together to test iOS 7’s Activation Lock feature (via CNET).


In its effort to fight iDevice theft — which has risen in North America — Apple introduced the Activation Lock during the Worldwide Developers Conference 2013 keynote. The feature is designed to prevent the deactivation of another important iOS feature, Find My iPhone. Activation Lock will keep stolen iPhones from being wiped and then reactivated.

Now Schneiderman and Gascón are putting the iOS 7 feature to test alongside the Samsung Galaxy S4 security feature known as “Lojack for Android.” The security experts, who include representatives from the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC) as well, will treat the smartphones as stolen devices, and will attempt to circumvent anti-theft features.

“Finding technical solutions that will remove the economic value of stolen smartphones is critical to ending the national epidemic of violent street crimes commonly known as ‘Apple Picking.’ With roughly 113 smartphones stolen or lost each minute in the United States, and too many of those thefts turning violent or deadly, the Secure our Smartphones Initiative is committed to ensuring the industry does everything it can to make their products and their customers safe. While we are appreciative of the efforts made by Apple and Samsung to improve security of the devices they sell, we are not going to take them at their word. Today we will assess the solutions they are proposing and see if they stand up to the tactics commonly employed by thieves,” Attorney General Schneiderman and District Attorney Gascón said today.

You may recall that Gascón was the first one to contact Apple and other smartphone OEMs in the push for a kill-switch to fight the rising number of smartphone thefts which especially target iDevice users. The results of the stress test will be published later today. Refresh for updates.

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  • hank

    This is good for the original owners of devices from the point of view that there is less chance that crooks will steal their devices.

    However, this is also not good for them down the road like when it is time for them to upgrade and sell their old decices. By then, demand for used stuff will be less given the fear of it being a stolen item and thus may not be activated. So instead of easily reselling it for say $200, maybe selling it for $50 would be a challenge 🙂

    So, really, it is a win win situation for manufacturers as customers will tend to buy new devices rather than used. It is them who are ultimately going to benefit in all these.

    Yup, CGA see more than numbers LOL 🙂

  • dan

    hank, that doesn’t make sense. If you’re selling your old phone, surely you can demonstrate it hasn’t been Activation Locked…

  • Hank: I think there’s something wrong about your judgement. The Activation Lock feature kicks in when you report your iPhone as lost and then it is restored. Not when you restore it just like that. I don’t see how that would affect the resale value.

  • ipostic

    Hank, seems that CGA missed one important aspect 🙂 Once there are no stolen used iPhones availabe (supply decreased) – the value of used iPhones available for sale has a chance to increase or most likely remain the same.

  • hank

    Good morning gentlemen 🙂

    I totally agree in what you all mentioned. But they are known facts. They’re given. We are beyond that. I’ll spell out my primary concerns just the same 🙂

    The only way for a buyer to validate the legitimacy of a sale is to do the restore through a laptop while doing the sale (i.e. in a skytrain station or in a neighborhood coffee shop). Not a lot of people (i.e. seller and buyer alike) have the luxury of time and patience to go through all those.

    There is also another concerning factor. What if at the time of sale and validation the supposedly stolen phone has been reported stolen but the deactivation hasn’t taken place yet? A lot of factors may affect the delay. So the supposedly happy buyer ends up having a deactivated phone on his next restore.

    These couple of concerning factors may decrease the demand for sure. Not eliminate.

  • Whatever

    It seems as though common sense isn’t one of hanks qualifications.

  • hank

    Lol! Maybe 🙂 Or maybe I am looking at it from a different perspective. No one seems to understand my point if view. Urgh! But maybe you’re right. Maybe that’s what I am missing. Common sense 🙂 Good weekend guys!

  • Sidney R.

    where are the results?