What Is Stolen Device Protection on iPhone and How to Enable It

In Short
  • iOS 17.3 introduces a new security feature on iPhones to protect sensitive information when thieves or other attackers learn the iPhone's passcode.
  • The new setting, Stolen Device Protection, uses the device's location to determine whether the iPhone is at a familiar or unfamiliar location.
  • If the user is in an unfamiliar location, the mode will require FaceID to perform sensitive actions such as checking or changing passwords in addition to the passcode.

With iOS 17.3, Apple added a new feature named Stolen Device Protection that protects you against data theft when intruders learn your iPhone passcode. Simply put, the Stolen Device Protection feature creates a second layer of security that makes it difficult for thieves to use the passcode to make major changes to your Apple ID when your iPhone is not at a familiar location like home or work.

While Apple has always led the industry in terms of user privacy, this new feature resulted after a report from The Wall Street Journal in which they identified a scam where attackers meet or track their victims, usually in bars late at night, and ask people to divulge their passcode by requesting to connect over Snapchat or watching over their shoulders.

Keep reading to learn how to enable Stolen Device Protection on your iPhone and how it works.

How Stolen Device Protection Mode Works?

Before the Stolen Device Protection mode came into existence, anybody with access to your iPhone’s passcode could make significant changes, such as changing your Apple ID password, creating a recovery key, turning off lost mode, transferring settings to a new device, disabling Find My, access your saved Keychain passwords, and more.

While finding out your iPhone’s passcode isn’t easy, there may come an instance where a thief or attacker befriends you first and somehow gets to know your six-digit or four-digit passcode. They can then steal your iPhone and lock you out easily by turning off the Find My and locking you out of the Apple ID.

This is exactly where the new Stolen Device Protection mode comes in. With this new feature enabled, your iPhone will always require Apple’s Face ID recognition in addition to the passcode if the thief or even you try to perform sensitive actions, such as viewing stored passwords or wiping the phone when your iPhone is at an unfamiliar location. This makes it impossible for the thief to make sensitive changes or see sensitive settings with only a passcode.

Also, if the attacker tries to change your Apple ID password or disable the Face ID, your iPhone will set a mandatory one-hour delay, and the attacker will have to pass a Face ID check after one hour to change the credentials.

Note: The Stolen Device Protection feature and one-hour delay will not kick in if your iPhone is at a trusted location like your home or work. This means the the feature only works when your iPhone is at a non-familiar location. As of now, there is no option to add familiar locations to this feature. Your iPhone will automatically recognize trusted locations based on your usage.

Here is a table that includes actions that will need both passcode and Face ID recognition when the Stolen Device Protection is turned ON, and the actions that will need biometrics plus and an hour security delay:

No Security DelaySecurity Delay
Access iCloud Keychain passwordsChange your Apple ID password
Apply for a new Apple CardEnable recovery key
Erase all content and settingsChange trusted phone number or contact
Turn off Lost ModeAdd Face ID or Touch ID
Sending people money with Apple CashRemove Face ID or Touch ID
Use your iPhone to set up a new deviceDisable Find My
Use payment methods saved in SafariTurn off Stolen Device Protection

How to Turn On Stolen Device Protection on iPhone?

While your iPhone will prompt you to turn on Stolen Device Protection on the home screen once it updates to iOS 17.3, you can always head over to the iPhone settings to turn this new feature ON. Here’s how:

  • Open the Settings on your iPhone, then head over to Face ID and Passcode settings.
  • Scroll down to locate the Stolen Device Protection and tap the Turn On Protection button under it.
Turn On Stolen Device Protection feature on iPhone

How to Turn Off Stolen Device Protection on iPhone?

  • Head over to the Settings app on your iPhone, visit the Face ID & Passcode section, and enter the passcode to access the settings.
  • Scroll down to locate the Stolen Device Protection. Next, tap the Turn Off Protection button under it. Authenticate with your Face ID.
  • Now, tap the blue Start Security Delay button.
  • On the next screen, you can see the Time Remaining to end the Security Delay, tap Done to exit.
  • You will receive a notification when the one-hour delay ends and then you can turn off the feature.
Turn Off Stolen Device Protection on iPhone

Always remember that this new feature only restricts a thief from accessing sensitive information or making changes to it; the thief can still unlock your iPhone and perform most of the operations if they are familiar with the passcode.

But since this iOS 17 security feature prevents the thief from locking you out of your Apple ID or disabling Find My, you can locate your iPhone easily or at least wipe it off remotely.

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