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

One of the newest iOS 7(s aapl) 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.

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

  1. Anthony

    YES! Why hasn’t Apple done this? Police officer recently said law enforcement has concluded that Apple won’t do this, even after being asked by law enforcement because Apple wants us to buy a new phone when ours is stolen. Not sure if that’s true, but I can’t think of a good reason why Apple wouldn’t add this simple feature.

    Pass code to shut off. Easy!

  2. I just realized. You can turn off the phone while the phone is locked.

    I was not able to turn it off before iOS 7. I will be reverting back now. What’s up with the Apple short-sightedness?

    I also do not think they ever anticipated that changing to a Lightening Cable will stop all phones from using ANY accessories while having a case.

    Then they started selling the cases that do not protect the screen just so you can use accessories.

    Even their lightening to 20 pin does not work with a proper case/bumper.

  3. So they can turn off the phone, put it in a microwave etc. but the point is in order for it to be a useful phone again someone will eventually need to power it on. At this point it will be easy to see the message about it be stolen. So any potential buyer will not buy it. This should in theory lead to thieves targeting other phones or claiming they found it and collecting a reward.

  4. Bruce Tonks

    I know this is a stupid thing but I’ve only been using iphone /ipad for 8months and love them PS 64 years the update but have lost screen alert noise when sliding to open my iphone 5 is this normal screen lock is on alert is on thanks Bruce

  5. Sam Sproul

    but it still doesnt give them a phone they can use or sell. Everything should be backed up to iCloud or other services anyway. All you would lose is the fun case that you bought.

  6. 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.

  7. Reynold M. Philippe

    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. 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.