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How to use Apple’s stolen device protection feature for iPhone

Apple’s Stolen Device Protection is designed to make it harder for thieves to access your iPhone and your personal information.

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The security of our smartphones is more important than ever. With thieves becoming more tech-savvy, protecting our iPhones from these digital bandits has become a priority for many users.

Recognizing this, Apple has introduced a stolen device protection feature in iOS 17.3.

This feature is in response to a gaping security vulnerability first discovered by the Wall Street Journal, which showed methods used by some iPhone thieves to hijack customer accounts, access personal and financial information, and lock users out of their own digital lives.

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about this new feature and how to enable it on your iPhone.

What is Apple’s Stolen Device Protection feature?

Apple’s Stolen Device Protection is designed to make it harder for thieves to access your iPhone and your personal information.

If your iPhone is ever lost or stolen, this feature adds an extra layer of security, particularly when the device is not in a familiar location, like your home or office.

stolen device protection on iphone ios beta
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It requires Face ID or Touch ID verification for sensitive actions, such as accessing banking information, viewing saved passwords, or changing Apple ID settings.

Moreover, if someone tries to modify your Apple ID credentials, the feature triggers a one-hour delay, giving you plenty of time time to act.

Why should you use it?

Apple’s Stolen Device Protection isn’t just about making your iPhone tough to hack. It’s really about keeping your personal info safe in the event your phone gets lost or stolen.

Apple made this feature to give your phone extra layers of protection, especially for those times when your phone isn’t with you, so overall, this feature offers you some peace of mind,

Who is eligible?

Anyone with an iPhone running iOS 17.3 or a later version gets access to Apple’s Stolen Device feature. Trying to figure out how to turn it on? We’ll cover that below.

FeatureOld SecurityNew Stolen Device Protection
Apple ID Password ChangePasscode could unlock the iCloud KeychainRequires Face ID or Touch ID, plus an hour delay and a second biometric confirmation
Recovery Key UpdatesPasscode alone could be used to establish a Recovery KeyTwo biometric confirmations an hour apart are now required
Access to KeychainPasscode could unlock iCloud KeychainFace ID or Touch ID is mandatory to access Keychain; passcode is not sufficient
Apple Pay AccessPasscode could be used if biometrics failedNo information provided; presumably remains the same
Device EraseCould be initiated with a passcodeRequires biometric authentication and a delay period
Find My iPhoneThieves could disable with passcodeAdditional biometric checks and time delays make disabling more difficult

How to enable Stolen Device Protection feature on your iPhone

stolen device protection iphone
Image: KnowTechie

Enabling the stolen device protection feature on your iPhone is straightforward. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Check for iOS 17.3 or Later: First, make sure your iPhone is running iOS 17.3 or later. You can check this by going to “Settings” > “General” > “About” and looking at the version number.
ios 17.3. download screen over a purple backfground
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Enable GPS and Find My Service: Ensure that your iPhone’s GPS is turned on and that you’ve set up the “Find My” service. This is crucial for the feature to work properly.
find my app on apple iphone
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  1. Activate Two-Factor Authentication: If you haven’t already, activate two-factor authentication for your Apple ID. This adds an additional layer of security, which is necessary for the stolen device protection feature.
  1. Turn On the Feature: Now, head to “Settings” and tap on “Face ID & Passcode” (or “Touch ID & Passcode” for older models). Enter your passcode when prompted. Scroll down until you see the “Stolen Device Protection” option and toggle it on.

Congrats, you just enabled Apple’s new Stolen Device feature. Pretty standard stuff, right?

If you try to turn off Stolen Device Protection from an unfamiliar place, there will be a brief delay before you can disable it.

Even though being careful with your phone is always important, this feature gives a big boost to your phone’s security, knowing your phone can protect itself from people who shouldn’t be using it.

Don’t forget that knowing what’s going on and staying safe is the best way to protect your online life. So, take a minute today to see if your iPhone can use this really important feature to help keep it safe.

Do you plan on enabling Apple’s Stolen Device feature? Have any thoughts on this? Drop us a line below in the comments, or carry the discussion to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Kevin is KnowTechie's founder and executive editor. With over 15 years of blogging experience in the tech industry, Kevin has transformed what was once a passion project into a full-blown tech news publication. Shoot him an email at kevin@knowtechie.com or find him on Mastodon or Post.

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