Effect of erasing an iPhone on the Find My iPhone feature | iLounge Article

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Effect of erasing an iPhone on the Find My iPhone feature

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Q: So even if my stolen iPhone 5 is wiped clean and restored through iTunes by a thief, and the thief decides to put the iCloud feature “Find My iPhone” back onto my stolen iPhone 5, and he also turns the “Location Services” back on in order that nobody will be able to steal the phone from him without him being able to track it, are you telling me that I still can’t track my iPhone even though it’s my phone, and “Location Services” and “Find My iPhone” features have been turned back on? Please tell me this isn’t the case, it just doesn’t seem right? Please get back to me and let me know.

- Reader comment on Reliability of the Find My iPhone Feature

A: Actually, this is entirely correct, and is simply an inevitable function of the way that iOS and the Find My iPhone feature works.

All of the information stored on your iPhone is stored entirely in the iPhone’s flash memory. This includes the iOS operating system, your apps and media content, your configuration settings, and any other personal data. While the operating system is stored in a separate area, for various reasons this is read-only during normal operation—it can only be written to when you’re actually performing a software update or a full iOS restore from iTunes.

As a result, all of your settings and configuration information is stored in the same memory space as your media content, apps, and other personal data. When the iPhone is wiped—either by a Remote Wipe command or by somebody manually erasing it—this configuration information goes away entirely. After a wipe operation, the iPhone is returned to the same configuration that it was in when it was brand new; to put it another way, at that point it’s no longer “your” iPhone as far as iOS is concerned.

Remember that the Find My iPhone feature is connected to your iCloud account. If the thief enabled the Find My iPhone feature, they would be doing it under their iCloud account, not yours, so it could only be tracked using that account.

In fact, the only identifying information that would remain on an iPhone after it is wiped would be whatever is stored on your SIM card, which is just information such as your phone number that identifies your device to the cellular network. Not only can this not be used to track your phone, but it is trivial for a thief to remove the SIM card, and if your iPhone has been stolen it’s normally wise to have your carrier deactivate it to prevent a thief from accumulating charges on your behalf.

While it would theoretically be possible for Apple to create a Find My iPhone feature that would continue to work after a full wipe of the device, this would require some significant re-engineering of iOS and perhaps even the iPhone hardware itself. Further, since this would require personal details and configuration settings to be stored separately and in a more permanent manner, this would also present some additional privacy concerns with regard to the used iPhone market.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that this isn’t any different from any other mobile platform or computer operating system. For example, the Blackberry Protect service works in much the same manner, and Android devices don’t offer a built-in equivalent feature at all, requiring the use of third-party apps or services; neither will survive a complete wipe of the device, which in all cases makes it a “new” device.

 

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Comments

1

You can, however, go to an Apple store with your iPhone’s serial number, and they can tell you if that serial number has recently been registered to another Apple ID. Can’t really say whether or not they’re willing to track the phone at that point though.

Posted by Marcus Diddle on May 7, 2013 at 9:45 AM (CDT)

2

My iphone was stolen,first I went to the icloud page from a notebook and enter the find my iphone button, the page try to locate my phone but it said it was offline so I put it in lost mode (put a password, my other cellphone number and the message that will display in the screen) then I press the erase option. When my iphone get internet connection it will erase all my data rigth? My question is:will it continue to track my phone after the wiping/erasing ?

Posted by Lucas O on May 23, 2013 at 10:38 PM (CDT)

3

All IOS devices have a unique identifier (UDID).  Why doesn’t find my I.Phone use that?  As it is, it is useless, as anybody with a browser can find out how to wipe it in 2 minutes.  This is the case, but it. Is not what I was told when buying my iPad.  False advertising!  Won’t be happening again, causebI won’t buy another.

Posted by Earl on June 23, 2013 at 12:12 AM (CDT)

4

The reality is the phone has the UDID and Apple can and do record this against your account when you register the phone. 
I used a TCP/IP traffic monitoring tool. To test this and confirm that the UDID is sent when you register and when the iPhone communicates with the iCloud, App Store etc.

However I do not know if Apple record this against your account.  But weather they do or not is irrellivent as they are not using the UDID even if it is stored against your account to determine ownership.

This means you can make the phone unuseable as a mobile getting your carrier to block the IMEI number.

But you can not get abile to block your phone form the Apple using the UDID number even though the iPhone transmits this number to Apple when communicating with the Apple Store.

What adds insult to injery is the fact that Apple are to bone lazy to update the iCloud toget to not allow an already registered phone to be registed to someone else. 

I am sure that it would be a simple update to the OS to have the iPhone transmit its UDID and Location to Apple when ever it is connected to a network or mobile carrier.  If it is in a unregistered, reset or factory new state.  Once it is registered this tracking would stop unless the FindMyphone software was activated.  If the phone was erased and all ready reagistered on the cloud to some else then the phone can not be re-registered and the phone could be tracked after being erase on the original account.

The question is why don’t Apple do this it is simple update.  Well the anser is simple Money
.  Apple make money selling music, videos, books and apps to iPhone and iPad own or holds or re-registered stolen devices.

If Apple blocked the re-registering of solen iPhones. The would not sell the content to the holders of stolen devices.  There are millions stolen each year and after being erased the holder of the stolen iPhone will want to reload it with content and app like the origin owner.

Stopping holder of stolen iPhone from doing this will cut of a major income stream.

Also as the orginal owner must erase the stolen iPhone to protect from identity theif and other things. They then can not track the
phone after being stolen as Apple don’t track UDID numbers.

This means the orginal owner must buy a new iPhone as all his content is with Apple and he is trapped in the Apple Eco-System.

Apple do a basic job of protecting your iPhone much better than BlackBarry, Android or Microsoft off the shelf.

But it is very disappointing to see there desire to make money means they do not implement a full solution.

I have Android and Apple phones stolen at various times. Yes the Android comes with not built in tracking software. But I have used and advised people how to use free Android software that made the holder of the stolen Android phone a pain to the extent that in all cased the phone was handed in to the police. 

Believe me with the free tools available for android phone you can make a holder of a stolen android live very pain full. 

also to the best of my knowledge an Android phone that is registered to a gmail account can not be registered to another gmail account even after erasing the phone.  Also even after erasing the phone you can still remontly tap into the phone view phone call logs, install software, track the phone, get the new number of the phone, call it and txt it and even remotely use the software and view the emails and contact remotely of the holder of the stolen phone after erasing it.

Apple needs to lift there game and do the same and make stealing a Apple Device undesirable.  I love my iPhone but will not buy another until apple lift there game.

Please Apple lift your game.  Its not hard.

Posted by Jackson on July 11, 2013 at 2:09 PM (CDT)

5

One Extra not is I have notice that people who steal Apple Devices are not weaving them switch for several months.  Before switching them one.

The reson for this is owner first instint is to set the phone to erase once it can not be tracked.  Which is the right thing to do.

The owner after a couple of month of not getting a response thinks the phone is broken or dead and so removes the phone from there account.

Becasue the phone is now removed from the owner account the phone will not be erased when switched on. 

As you can see this is a mistake as the thief can now switch on the phone hack in steal the identity of the owner amoung other things.

So after your phone goes missing do not remove the phone from your account ever as at any time the thief could switch it on and brake into it.

i tested this with an iPhone.  So I say again.

After your phone goes missing do not remove the phone from your account ever as at any time the thief could switch it on and brake into it.

Posted by Jackson on July 11, 2013 at 2:31 PM (CDT)

6

I have been using my roomates Apple ID for a few years now. But after an argument, he logged onto icloud and erased my iphone. How can I get my pictures back. Is he allowed to do this?

Posted by chuck on July 24, 2013 at 10:23 AM (CDT)

7

My iphone got stolen and when I tried to track it from Find my iphone, it says that its “offline. The next day, I tried to track my phone again but it says its pending erase iphone. With my understanding when the phone gets to the internet, my phone gets erased and can no longer track my phone. How can I remove my phone from erase iphone?
Please advise. Thank you

Posted by Angel on August 23, 2013 at 11:57 PM (CDT)

8

My iphone was lost/stolen last November. Now, I’m noticing pictures on my new iphone and my ipad taken by the new owner of my lost/stolen iphone. It must be syncing through icloud somehow. Which means, my stuff is syncing too.

I called Apple Care, outsourced now to a company called emphasis. They haven’t a clue on what to do.

Anyone have a fix for this?

Posted by dlbasil on August 25, 2013 at 10:31 AM (CDT)

9

I lost my iphone after days trying to track it and it being off line i decided to erase it realizing i wont find it and not wanting others to have my personal information but what id like to know is will my photos/videos be erased as well?

Posted by cam on August 26, 2013 at 9:32 AM (CDT)

10

hi I wanted I wanted to ask you I found a iPad Mini in my car that I bought it was locked I did a master reset on the iPad Mimi would it be trackable still

Posted by nick on September 19, 2013 at 2:10 AM (CDT)

11

I lost my phone and it appears offline on find my iPhone. Once it is restored will it still appear offline or will it simply not appear as a a device on find my iPhone? I just want to know so I don’t keep my hopes up that they’ll turn it on and I’ll find it.

Posted by Me on September 28, 2013 at 7:57 AM (CDT)

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