Apple – When it comes to luxury gadgets, no other company comes close to the prestige of Apple.
Its iPhones have been some of the most sought-after devices on the market.
As a result, it can be the target of many thieves willing to snatch one away from its owners when left unguarded.
However, thieves nowadays have taken a new approach to their acts of crime.
Reports emerged that iPhone thieves are now eyeing a victim’s passcode before making their move.
According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, iPhone thieves are spying on their victim’s passcode before snatching the Apple device.
They will then reset the settings, blocking the owners’ access.
Victims have reported their Apple devices getting stolen from their hands in public areas like bars to find themselves locked out.
Thieves knowledgeable about passcodes can easily reset the victim’s Apple ID password.
Furthermore, they can switch the Find My iPhone feature off, leaving the owners in the dark and unable to track their devices.
Owners are also unable to remove other devices from their connected Apple account.
In addition, thieves can move to add a recovery key, eliminating the victim’s access from account recovery.
More than an isolated case
Waves of reports emerged, with the victims reporting the same problem.
For example, one victim reported that a thief opened an Apple Card through the last four digits of their Social Security number in photos.
Meanwhile, another lost all photos she had of her family for good.
The majority of the victims have already filed police reports.
In one case, a victim filed an identity theft claim, reporting their loss to the Federal Trade Commission.
Apple acknowledges the situation
With so many victims reporting the same problem, Apple is scrambling to develop contingency plans.
According to a spokesperson, the iPhone is the market’s most secure consumer mobile device.
They added that the company is working “tirelessly” to prevent new and emerging threats.
“We sympathize with users who have had this experience, and we take all attacks on our users very seriously, no matter how rare,” said the spokesperson.
“We will continue to advance the protections to help keep user accounts secure.”
The Apple spokesperson added that the new wave of thefts is uncommon due to the theft of both the device and the password or passcode.
Most systems recommend a strong, unique password when creating passwords for devices and accounts.
However, the passcode presents a unique weak link, especially when users opt for a short string of numbers for convenience.
Despite the recent Apple updates, the problem still lingers.
The company introduced new methods to protect the Apple ID, including hardware security keys.
The Apple spokesperson recommended using Face ID and holding a hand over the screen when punching in a passcode.
However, the phone requires a passcode when Face ID (or Touch ID for older models) fails.
The passcode also pops up when unlocking the device, authorizing Apple Pay, and opening the iCloud Keychain password manager, to name a few.
Course of actions
It’s difficult to avoid theft, but Apple device owners can make it harder for those that want to try.
Law-enforcement authorities pointed out that thieves often find ways to get people’s passcodes.
Some would even go as far as filming their targets from afar.
When in public, users should rely on Face ID or Touch ID to keep thieves from adding them to their list.
However, when a password or passcode is required, they are recommended to type them in like ATM pins.
According to Adam Aviv, an associate professor of computer science at George Washington University, using six digits is a good practice.
Longer, more complex passcodes will be harder to “shoulder surf,” said Aviv.
Apple device owners are recommended to use alphanumeric passcodes.
Furthermore, adding a short auto-lock is best, making it harder for thieves to change anything.
Most online bank apps require passcodes, and experts recommend setting one different from the iPhone.
Furthermore, users can set up a Screen Timepasscode, enabling account restrictions like parents do with their children’s devices.
Third-party password manager
Although Apple’s built-in iCloud Keychain password manager is helpful, the passwords saved can also be accessed with the passcode.
As a result, thieves can access bank accounts on their victims’ iPhones.
However, users can employ a third-party password manager that offers biometric authentication, including 1Password and Dashlane.
Delete traces of sensitive information
Some users can be forgetful and use pictures of sensitive information, like forms with their Social Security number.
Therefore, it is wise to delete copies of such documents.
An alternative users can opt for is using secure file storage in third-party password managers.
Act quickly if phone is stolen
If an iPhone is stolen, the owners must act quickly and sign in to iCloud from another device to find their device and wipe the phone clean.
I’m They can also call their carrier or visit a retail store and have the sim deactivated to prevent thieves from receiving verification codes.