Over the weekend, Apple silently pulled out what was previously an effective anti-theft measure, the Activation Lock status checker webpage. Despite increased media coverage, Apple has remained silent on exactly why. Although it still hasn’t confirmed it, some speculation by MacRumors may point to the reason both for the removal of the tool as well as Apple’s silence. The anti-theft tool might have ironically been abused as a tool to bypass locked devices and gain access to those.
It’s not that the Activation Lock webpage can be used to hack directly into an iPhone or iPad. Instead, it was allegedly used to verify valid serial numbers that are still associated with Apple IDs. In other words, by utilizing the tool, hackers can get a valid device serial number which, in turn, can be used to unlock an iPhone or iPad that has been previously been bricked by Activation Lock.
This hacking method is also suspected to be the cause of a recent spate of bugs affecting iPhone owners since around September. Owners of new or recently restored devices suddenly find themselves faced with a notification saying that the device has already been associated with a different Apple ID that is not theirs.
Again, there is no confirmation yet that the two are related, or that they were the cause of the tool’s removal. It doesn’t take too much imagination, however, to draw connections between these. If so, Apple is unlikely to return the status check tool any time soon or at all. That said, Apple may have to come up with an equally strong theft deterrent to prevent “Apple picking” from coming into season again.