Apple devoted only a small portion of its WWDC keynote to its first wearable and as such, some key information was glanced over. For example, Apple is bringing its Activation Lock feature to watchOS 2, an anti-theft measure that’s been sorely missing from the original.
As it stands today, it’s incredibly easy to wipe the Apple Watch and start new, making it especially attractive to thieves looking to make a quick buck. Apple acknowledges this, citing it as a “feature” that makes it easy to restore the wearable should you forget your password. While that may be true, it also leaves the device quite vulnerable.
Adding the option for Activation Lock is a start although I suspect most won’t be happy until Apple adds a comparable feature to “Find my iPhone.”
In related news, iOS 9 will introduce 6-digit passcodes to replace the standard 4-digit codes in use today. The idea is that lengthier passcodes will help protect against brute-force attacks in which an attacker attempts to guess a passcode by trying every possible combination of numbers until they get it right.
Apple includes an option to reset data after 10 failed passcode attempts but hardware already exists to circumvent this restriction.
It’s not a perfect solution as an attacker would still be able to brute-force their way in but it could potentially take much longer as there would be 100 times as many passwords to check.
This also means users will now have to memorize a 6-digit passcode. I suspect we’ll see lots of ZIP codes and birthdates being used come iOS 9 although TouchID on newer phones will limit the number of times a user has to enter their code.