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NYPD Promotes iOS 7's Anti-Theft Feature, Ignores Other Vulnerabilities

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 7 comments

You may have mixed feelings about iOS 7, Apple's newest mobile operating system, but New York City's finest are apparently big fans.

This past weekend (Sept. 20-22) the New York Police Department (NYPD) handed out "public awareness notices" on the streets encouraging people to upgrade to iOS 7, which came out on Sept. 18.

The reason is iOS 7's new "Activation Lock" feature, which makes it more difficult for thieves to wipe and resell stolen iPhones.

MORE: iOS 7 Review: More than iOS 6, Less than Android

iOS 7 requires users to re-enter the phone's Apple ID and password before turning off its "Find My iPhone" feature, which can be accessed via desktop (or another mobile device) to locate a missing device, display the missing device's remaining battery life, and remotely lock or even wipe the device. A photo of the NYPD flier taken by Michael Hoffman (@Hoffm)A photo of the NYPD flier taken by Michael Hoffman (@Hoffm)

Devices running iOS 7 also require an Apple ID and password before they can be erased or reactivated.

All this makes it much more difficult for thieves to use or sell stolen iPhones, which is apparently why the NYPD has come out in favor of the upgrade.

"NYPD have used 'Find My Phone' numerous times to help locate phones that were reported stolen," Sergeant Brendan Ryan of the NYPD Office of the Deputy Commissioner said in a statement to Tom's Guide.

That's not to say that iOS 7 is flawless, however. Two days after the OS went live, two researchers from California-based security firm Cenzic found a vulnerability in Siri, the voice-activated personal assistant, that lets people use locked phones to make calls, send text messages and emails and post updates to Twitter and Facebook.

The researchers recommend disabling Siri in iOS 7 until Apple issues a patch.

The NYPD's pro-iOS 7 fliers also tout the department's "Operation ID" program, a crime prevention initiative that attempts to curb thefts by engraving a police-registered serial number on residents' devices.

The NYPD hasn't made an official statement of support for iOS 7, but several New Yorkers have tweeted about the fliers.

"Four uniformed NYPD offers were at my subway stop tonight asking me to upgrade to iOS 7. Not a joke!" tweeted New Yorker Michael Hoffman.

Ryan confirmed that over the weekend following iOS 7's release the NYPD had set up information tables at Apple and Best Buy stores across the city. The main purpose was to get people enrolled in "Operation "the NYPD Community Affairs Bureau set up information tables at Apple and Best Buy stores in all five boroughs." The purpose was to get people enrolled in "Operation ID," but the officers also promoted iOS 7 because of its upgraded "Find My iPhone" feature.

"Since last May to Sept. 15, there have been at least 114 incidents in which patrol officers either using their own iPhones or iPhones allocated by the Department...recovered stolen property using Find My iPhone," said Ryan, adding that the incidents lead to 159 arrests and the recovery of 99 iPhones, 7 iPads, 2 iPods and 1 Macbook.

Email or follow her @JillScharr. Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+.

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  • 2 Hide
    SRRAE , September 23, 2013 4:06 PM
    Find my phone is a feature which has been built in to Windows Phone 7 from the start
  • -1 Hide
    otacon , September 23, 2013 5:03 PM
    @SRRAE With no activation lock.
  • 4 Hide
    jimmysmitty , September 23, 2013 9:02 PM
    Makes me wonder if Apple paid them or what. Considering there are some pretty big security flaws that need patching it might be better to stay on a older more secure iOS than jump to the newest hole ridden iOS as a beta tester.
  • Display all 7 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    ddpruitt , September 24, 2013 4:43 AM
    Devices running iOS 7 also require an Apple ID and password before they can be erased or reactivated

    Although apparently if you call Apple's tech support they have no qualms about doing it for someone other than the owner.
  • 0 Hide
    BulkZerker , September 24, 2013 6:01 AM
    @otacon and its not an iPhone so it won't scream easy fence to theives
  • 1 Hide
    digiex , September 24, 2013 6:48 AM
    "Makes me wonder if Apple paid them or what."
    Police station also needed additional funds, X'mas is just around the corner.
  • 1 Hide
    DRosencraft , September 24, 2013 7:46 AM
    NYPD, with all the problems it currently has, does not need to get into trying to recommend tech to people. This was a stupid idea.
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