How-To: Remotely Wipe an iPhone Using Exchange

The thought of your iPhone or iPod touch falling into the wrong hands is enough to scare anyone. The iPhone does have the passcode function to keep prying eyes out, but what if that’s not enough?

In a corporate environment, the loss of a device like this is a major ordeal. Apple has touted the MobileMe remote wiping capabilities, but what if you don’t use MobileMe? If you are in a corporate environment, you probably connect to an exchange server for mail. Using OWA (Outlook Web Access) you can remotely wipe your lost or stolen iPhone/iPod touch and breath easy knowing your data is safe.

As I stated, this relies on using the Exchange email push functionality in the iPhone OS. I have only tested this with Exchange 2007 so I can’t verify how or if this works in older versions of Exchange. OWA is Microsoft’s fancy name for web mail so the first thing you need to do is access your company’s web mail.

  1. After you successfully login, click on the Options button in the top right.
  2. Now click on the Mobile Devices option in the left-hand menu.
  3. You should now see your iPhone or iPod touch device listed. Click the radio button next to your device and the click Wipe All Data from Device…
  4. You will get a confirmation dialog to confirm you really want to do this. After you confirm, the Status will change to Pending Wipe.
  5. The next time your iPhone/iPod touch has an internet connection and checks in with Exchange, a secure wipe is initiated. This is what the screen looks like to the user.
  6. After the wipe has been started, the status for the device in OWA will change to Wipe Successful and you can remove the device from the list.

You can give this a try on your own device if you want to see the magic. Be advised that it will take about an hour to wipe the device so you can’t use it during that time. After the wipe, you can restore from a backup in iTunes. Since this is done in OWA, you don’t even have to bother your Network Admin. Maybe you are a little embarrassed that you lost your iPhone. This way no one has to know. Your secret will be safe with me.