A new bug has been discovered in iOS 7 which effectively renders Activation Lock feature useless, making it almost impossible to trace a stolen device.
Apple’s Find My iPhone is pretty much the only service that iOS device owners can use to locate their missing devices. Activation Lock safeguards the device until the relevant iCloud credentials are punched in. This bug penetrates both layers of protection, making it very easy for someone to fence a stolen iOS device.
To disable Find My iPhone users have to enter their Apple ID credentials. This serves as the first layer of protection against thieves who try deleting an existing iCloud account just to restore the device to factory settings. Credentials have to be entered once again to remove the iCloud account. Its certainly not easy to bypass these layers of protection if the ID and password are not known, but this bug discovered by YouTube user Miguel Alvarado allows anyone to do just that.
Exploiting this bug is actually very easy. All one has to do is tap both “delete account” and the switch to disable Find My iPhone at the same time in the iCloud settings. When the device prompts for password, power down the device. When its restarted it automatically boots into the iCloud settings panel. From here the account can be removed, it doesn’t prompt for a password. Once this is done, one can simply plug the device in iTunes and restore it to factory settings. Since Activation Lock requires Find My iPhone to be enabled, it won’t be enabled after the device is restored.
It is unclear if Apple has started working on a fix for this bug, which opens up a gaping hole in the security of iOS devices. Though now that its in the open, it may only be a matter of time before Apple rolls out a fix.