Apple just launched a clever way to protect your iPhone from thieves

Best iPhone VPN
Thieves will soon need more than your passcode (Image credit: Shutterstock / Neirfy)

If you’re worried about someone stealing your iPhone, locking you out and wiping your data, you might want to update your phone. That’s because Apple’s latest iOS 17.3 beta contains an ingenious new security feature that can thwart even the canniest thieves.

As spotted by the Wall Street Journal, the beta contains a new feature called Stolen Device Protection that can serve as a last line of defense in case your iPhone has been stolen and the perpetrator has gained access to your passcode. Activate it and you could shut down their plans for good.

Without this new feature, all a thief needs is your passcode. They can then open up your iPhone, change your Apple ID password to stop you remotely wiping the device, turn off Find My, then view all your saved passwords for your accounts, credit cards and more.

That’s means they have a huge amount of access, and all they have to do is spy your passcode over your shoulder before swiping your phone. And once they’ve then changed your Apple ID password, you can’t even stop them from afar.

A secure solution

Entering passcode on an iPhone

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

With Stolen Device Protection, things work differently. When it’s turned on, certain important actions – like viewing passwords, disabling Lost Mode, erasing content and more – require Face ID or Touch ID, not a passcode. The addition of biometric authentication makes it far, far harder for thieves to access these vital areas of your phone, hopefully preventing a catastrophic upending of your digital life.

And the new feature goes even further than that. When someone tries to perform very sensitive actions, like changing your Apple ID password or altering the phone’s passcode, they’ll need to authenticate with Face ID or Touch ID, wait one hour, then use Face ID or Touch ID again.

That doesn’t apply if your phone is in a familiar location, such as your home or work. So, while thieves will likely struggle to wreak havoc on your device wherever they take it, you should be able to make these changes yourself as long as you’re not somewhere unfamiliar. Even if you are, you’ll just have to wait a little longer than before. That’s worth it in exchange for better security.

Stolen Device Protection is an opt-in feature, and you can switch it on in Settings > Face ID & Passcode > Stolen Device Protection, providing you’re running the iOS 17.3 beta. It’s worth enabling for your peace of mind – you never know when you might need it.

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Alex Blake
Freelance Contributor

Alex Blake has been fooling around with computers since the early 1990s, and since that time he's learned a thing or two about tech. No more than two things, though. That's all his brain can hold. As well as TechRadar, Alex writes for iMore, Digital Trends and Creative Bloq, among others. He was previously commissioning editor at MacFormat magazine. That means he mostly covers the world of Apple and its latest products, but also Windows, computer peripherals, mobile apps, and much more beyond. When not writing, you can find him hiking the English countryside and gaming on his PC.