29 Comments

Summary:

Command Center for iOS 7 is great: Simple access to often used settings and apps. It’s enabled on your Lock Screen by default. Super handy, right? Yes but that means anyone could disable your device radio even if you have a passcode lock.

findmyiphone_thumb

One of the newest iOS 7 features is certainly a time saver, but it can also make your lost iOS device harder to find.

Yesterday, I mentioned the new Control Center as one of the five new iOS 7 features you’ll want to try right away. I still believe it adds to the experience, however, by default, it’s not secure: Lose your iPhone or iPad and someone can keep the Find My iPhone app from locating your device.

Here’s how. By default, the new Control Center is made available on your lock screen without a passcode needed. Sure, that’s handy. Just slide up on your handset to open the camera app, enable AirDrop, or turn on Do Not Disturb. But one of the available options is to enable Airplane Mode.

I’d welcome that for a flight, and why not? No need to unlock the phone and fumble in Settings to turn off the phone’s radios. Except that anyone can turn off the phone’s radios in the default mode, even if you have a passcode lock setup in iOS 7.

can't find my iphone

If that happens, Find My iPhone essentially becomes useless. I tested the scenario with every Find My iPhone option but they were no help: Find My Phone, Play Sound, Lost Mode and Erase iPhone. (Note that I didn’t actually enable the Erase iPhone mode because Apple warned the phone would be erased when it re-connects to the internet.)

For now, I’ve disabled Control Center on the lock screen. You can easily do this too: Go to Settings, Control Center and disable the “Access on Lock Screen” option. Again, on my iPhone 5 and my wife’s iPhone 4S, this was enabled by default. We both have passcode locks on our phones and in both cases, we were able to enable Airplane mode without any security check.

Command Center iOS 7 settings

Is this a huge security hole? No, I’d call it more of a security awareness issue.

Why? Because a thief could essentially accomplish the same thing by simply pulling the SIM card out of your device or by turning it off. But I’d like to see Apple consider requiring the passcode for Airplane mode through Control Center. I don’t want anyone cutting off my iPhone from the web but me, especially if I lose it.

This post was updated at 2:04pm PT to properly reflect the name of Control Center.

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  1. What I have never understood is why you are able to shut off the phone from the lock screen?

  2. Say, where’d you get that Find iPhone screen shot? My version hasn’t been 7ified yet.

    1. Ah, that’s from my iMac on Safari.

  3. It will prevent you from putting your phone in lost mode, displaying a lost message on it, or physically locating your phone. But it won’t bypass Activation Lock. So in other words, neither you or the thief will get to use the phone.

    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5818

    1. The thief could just use a computer to restore the phone (although he/she wouldn’t get any of your personal data).

  4. Find My iPhone still works in enable Airplane Mode?

  5. Bjdraw has a good point.
    If airplane mode required a passcode so will wifi.

  6. This is silly. Removing SIM and shutting off the phone all do the same thing (prevent Find My iPhone) and can be done without a password.

    Hell, even if shutting off wasn’t possible and the SIM tray was locked or something, you could probably put the phone in a lead box or a faraday cage and effectively silence it that way.

    Being able to shut off radios from lock-screen doesn’t really do much to make the situation any worse.

  7. Reynold M. Philippe Thursday, September 19, 2013

    Apple should consider a separate battery to control constant power to prevent “Find my Iphone ” from ever being disabled, except by the owner! You should also have the ability to switch it on or off from Icloud via any computer! That would make the iphone, a phone no one wants to steal!

  8. All-Purpose Guru Thursday, September 19, 2013

    Every house these days has a faraday cage in it. Either a microwave or a refrigerator will work well.

    This whole problem would be solved easily if powering off the phone or entering airplane mode brought up the passcode authentication screen.

    Yes, they can still yank the SIM card, but I doubt the average thief will bother– the tray is a PITA and the phone will still connect up via wifi without the SIM.

  9. What happens when you turn your phone off in the middle of updating

  10. You can still turn the phone off from the top botton while the phone is locked!!!

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