Beware: Control Center in iOS 7 is nice, but could make your lost iPhone hard to find

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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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