iPhone display units are preloaded with a software kill switch to discourage theft

apple store canada iphone-security-tethers-removed

Apple’s long preloaded special OS images on display devices in stores. When news broke that it’s started removing security tethers from iPhone display units at flagship stores to let users try how the iPhone fits in their pocket, I thought the move would encourage thieves to lift untethered devices.

That could prove easier said than done due to a software kill switch that automatically disables the device if a customer goes out of range of the store Wi-Fi.

Ben Lovejoy, writing for 9to5Mac:

A source tells us that the current special OS images on demo devices include a software ‘kill switch’ which disables them when they go out of range of the store Wi-Fi. This means that Apple no longer has to use Find My iPhone to disable them manually.

It’s also possible that Apple is using Bluetooth-driven indoor positioning iBeacon technology to sense when a customer is leaving the store with a stolen device. Devices used for workshops also protected with a software kill switch, the report claims.

Apple’s Regent Street store in London, which re-opened this past Saturday after more than a year of refurbishment, no longer has security tethers on display iPhone units. Apple has also removed security tethers from display devices at the Yorkdale store in Toronto and one of its other stores in Canada.

Now, Apple Stores have security cameras (even if you cannot see them) and display devices probably use Find My iPhone and Activation Lock to render any stolen devices useless.

The problem with these methods is that theft of display units could easily go undetected provided a thief has powered down the device to prevent services like Find My iPhone that require network connection from functioning properly.

Although Activation Lock makes stolen devices inoperable, stolen devices could still b sold on the black market to shady repair shops for parts.

Source: 9to5Mac