Government Security Experts Put Apple’s Activation Lock to the Test
Will Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) new Activation Lock feature for the iPhone withstand stringent U.S. government testing? Apple first introduced the new the anti-theft deterrent function as part of iOS 7 at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference.
Now San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman are leading an effort to test Apple’s Activation Lock feature by submitting an iPhone 5 to a simulated theft and unauthorized access attempt, reports CNET. The officials noted, “roughly 113 smartphones [are] stolen or lost each minute in the United States.”
Gascón and Schneiderman released a statement that said, “While we are appreciative of the efforts made by Apple and Samsung (SSNLF.PK) 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.” According to Apple, this feature prevents thieves from disabling the Find My iPhone application, even if the phone data is erased. It also requires the owner’s Apple ID and passcode in order to reactivate the phone.
The government is using various technical experts to test the smartphone security features, including some from the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center. Besides testing Apple’s Activation Lock feature, the experts will also try to circumvent the “Lojack for Android” security feature on a Samsung Galaxy S4.
However, while Apple’s anti-theft deterrent is a standard feature included with iOS, CNET notes that “Lojack for Android” is a $29.99 per year app. In this sense, it appears that Apple’s security feature is more in line with the goals of the government-led Secure Our Smartphone (S.O.S) Initiative. Gascón and Schneiderman stated they “are working to ensure that the industry imbeds persistent technology that is effective, ubiquitous and free to consumers in every smartphone introduced to the market by next year.”
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