There is much talk about the security that the iPhone offers to protect the user’s private data. However, it is usually avoided to comment on what a thief is capable of doing with your stolen cell phone if they know the device’s password.
This was precisely the subject of an article in The Wall Street Journal, which emphasizes how the leak of the device’s password has the potential to destroy your entire digital life.
What can be done with the password
The article describes a series of police reports from iPhone users who had their devices stolen. There are estimated to be hundreds to thousands of victims per year in the United States.
The text tells the story of an executive who lost access to her Apple account seconds after her iPhone was stolen, which prevented her from accessing her photos, contacts, and notes. And in the first 24 hours, she saw about $10,000 disappear from her bank account.
This victim believes that the criminals were watching her at a bar, where they were able to see her enter the device’s password. After that, the theft occurred and they had access to everything.
With the password in hand, it is possible to:
- Change the device password
- Change the device’s biometrics (which grants access to various apps)
- Change the Apple ID password (making it impossible to track and lock the device through Find My)
- Make purchases through Apple Pay
- Obtain access to all passwords registered in iCloud Keychain (including email and banking service passwords)
- Use the victim’s face photos to validate documents or register on websites
Ways to obtain the password
There are three most common ways for thieves to obtain your iPhone password:
- They observe the victim from a distance while entering the password on the device
- They drug the victim to obtain the password
- They coerce the victim to provide the password through the use of violence
A delicate subject
When talking about techniques used by criminals to gain access to user data, many criticize the fact of exposing information that can help the thieves themselves. “Isn’t your article teaching criminals to steal my iPhone?“
Let’s not be naive.
This type of information is already circulating among them, so this type of article will not encourage crime. On the contrary, citizens need to know that this exists, to try to protect themselves in the best possible way.
In addition, articles like thatof The Wall Street Journal serve to make Apple take action and create new ways to prevent this type of problem. If we let thieves act silently, without talking about the issue, nothing will change.
How to increase your chances of protection
Knowing that this kind of thing happens, what the user should do is try to protect themselves as much as possible in advance, because this kind of inconvenience does not usually give warning before it happens.
Here at BDI, we have already published several tips on how to reinforce the security of your iPhone. Below are some of them.
- Choose a password above 6 digits: the more complicated the device’s password, the harder it is for someone to memorize it from a distance. We explained here how to do it.
- Always use Face ID or Touch ID in public places: biometrics were made so that you don’t have to keep entering your password all the time on your device. So use it whenever you can to avoid someone spying on you entering it.
- Activate a second password for app access: We have already taught here how to use the Screen Time feature to put a second password on apps, different from the one on the device, to further protect access.
- Delete any and all photos of your ID card that you have taken and left in the camera roll. Nowadays, it is possible to even open a bank account with this type of information.
- Be careful when using your iPhone in public places: This tip may seem obvious, but it is essential for your safety. Avoid exposing your iPhone when in public places, as this attracts the attention of people with bad intentions.
Having your iPhone stolen is one of every Apple user’s worst nightmares. And since everything we do nowadays is on the phone, the headache can be even greater.
So, protect yourself. And let’s hope that Apple takes steps to make it even more difficult for strangers to access the device.
Take the opportunity to check out 5 important tips to have fewer problems if your iPhone is stolen: