How Find My Phone Could Be Better

Enlightened by the recent and very unfortunate events that unfolded upon Wired Magazine Editor Mat Honan and his digital life forced me to take a closer look at the mobile devices in my own home. What I believe is still a good application to have in case of theft it should also be noted that it has no real use on a home computer. The Find My Phone application and those like it are great for portable devices like smartphones and tablets. Having the ability to lock, send a “return to” message or simply wipe the entire device are invaluable security features especially if the device contains highly sensitive information. The issue with this particular application and those that work in the same way is that it is missing one very needed security feature.

If you want to reset, or wipe your iPhone or iPad manually you have to first if implemented enter your passcode to unlock the device, then go into the Settings >;; General >;; Reset and re-enter the device passcode again after tapping any one of the reset functions. So, being that as it is why isn’t the Find My Phone application implemented in the same way. I should under no uncertain terms be allowed to lock, send a “return to” message or wipe, any device remotely if I do not know the device passcode. This is something I didn’t think about before the recent attack on Mat’s digital life but I should have. And even though Mat states he is mad at himself for not taking precautions like backing up his computer or not daisy chaining email addresses I hope he does realize that regardless of all that it wasn’t his fault and the events that ensued possibly couldn’t be avoided and definitely couldn’t have been foreseen.

Now, if a device passcode feature was implemented on the Find My Phone application then the erasing of data from his devices may not have happened but at the same time the people involved wanted his Twitter handle and probably wouldn’t have stopped until they got it. The one fortunate thing is that the sudden resetting of his iPhone alerted him to the fact that something was going on which allowed him to act quickly and fortunately later retrieve all his precious memories. In the end there is a delicate balance that must be made between security and ease of use. And each one of us has to make that call for ourselves but device manufacturers and security software designers must also give us the proper tools to do so. The Find My Phone application again is a great security tool but it needs more locks on the door besides simply logging into one’s iCloud account because it’s already been demonstrated how a few individuals can reck havoc from a remote location without ever physically touching the device they want to attack. This is one case were I will gladly put up with a little inconvenience for the sake of security.


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