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Apple kills activation lock check, possible dirty stolen device hack

Hardware hack steals serial numbers from legitimate users

By Darren Pauli, 31 Jan 2017

Video Apple has closed its iCloud activation lock check in a possible move to neuter a bypass method that allowed stolen devices to be reactivated at the expense of legitimate devices.

Cupertino's shuttered iCloud activation lock feature allowed users to check if a second-hand device was registered and locked to a previous owner, a security measure that renders devices unusable unless the owner's username and password are entered.

The closure could be in response to a reckless activation lock workaround method reported by MacRumors that allowed users to modify hardware chips for stolen activation-restricted Apple devices.

The hack pinches a legitimate serial number from Apple users and applies it to the modified chip, allowing the activation process to continue.

It is not clear if the tampering method is behind Apple's closure of the activation lock feature, but user reports have surfaced recently that legitimate iPhones and iPads have been inexplicably activation locked to other users' accounts.

Youtube Video

Buyers wishing to check the activation lock status of second-hand Apple devices can still do so provided they have physical access to the units.

Apple has been asked for comment. ®

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