APPLE HAS REMOVED its Activation Lock status checker that could be used to see if an iPhone or iPad had been stolen, likely because it had been bypassed by hackers to gain access to bricked devices.
The anti-theft tool, which was silently yanked over the weekend, enabled buyers of a second-hand iPhone to check if it was registered to a previous owner by typing in the IMEI number. If the device was listed as disabled, it’s likely that the handset was stolen.
Apple hasn’t yet said why it removed the Activation Lock page, but MacRumours thinks it has figured out why.
As demonstrated in a YouTube video (below), hackers could use Activation Lock page as part a bypass hack used to gain access unlock devices bricked by Apple’s online service.
By tweaking one or two characters of an invalid serial number, hackers are able to generate a valid number that belongs to a legitimate Apple device owner, which can then be used to unlock a previously bricked iPhone or iPad. Then, Activation Lock could be used for verification purposes to check it’s functional, before being used to unlock a previous disabled iPhone or iPad.
This hack could also be to blame for an Apple ID bug that has been frustrating iPhone owners since September, MacRumours notes.
When trying to activate a new or restored device, some iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 users have complained that their handset is When attempting to activate a new or recently restored device, some iPhone owners have found their device is showing as locked to another Apple ID account.
The removal of the Activation Lock feature is also bad news for Apple Watch users. Before the feature was made available for the smartwatch, security researchers warned that if the device is stolen, hackers can easily reset the device and pair it with a new iPhone logged in to a different iCloud account.