As it turns out, Apple’s attention to detail and the leader in device privacy and security has limits. The limit? How about 49 years, give or take a decade or two. That’s how long you may have to wait to get into your iPhone or iPad. That’s wrong and needs to be fixed.
Here’s the way both iPhone and iPad work with iOS. Enter the wrong password to open the device and you get a chance to Try Again. Great, right? We all make mistakes and sometimes press the wrong button. What happens if you keep trying with the wrong password?
It happened to a woman in China last year. Her child kept trying to open the iPhone and didn’t know the password. iOS worked perfectly and kept inserting a longer and longer delay between additional passcode attempts.
That iPhone was locked for 47 years. It could have been worse. A three-year-old locked Evan Osnos from his iPad for 49 years.
Every wrong password extends the time iOS locks iPhone or iPad. For Osnos, it worked this way:
iPad is disabled try again in 25,536,442 minutes.
That’s 49 years.
iOS has a setting which will erase the iPhone or iPad’s contents after 10 attempts to open the device with the wrong password and while that sounds like a good security option to prevent thieves from accessing a device, it can also cause problems for users.
49 years is a long time to wait for the opportunity to unlock an iPhone or iPad, right?
The saving grace is standard operating procedure for Apple but it’s just wrong. Apple allows the device to be erased and iOS and apps can be re-installed via an iCloud backup. See how important those nightly iCloud backups can be?
Locking yourself out of your iOS device and retrying with the wrong password too many times leads to permanent removal of data from the device
In such a situation, all you can do is erase and restore the device from the last iCloud backup. That’s the only way it works, folks. Apple could fix that bad situation with a simple limit on the number of minutes or hours associated with the unlock. Instead of 25,536,442 minutes, how about 24-hours?
Nathan and I work in a private school with many hundreds of Macs, PCs, Chromebooks, and, yes, more iPads than we can count. This lockout problem happens often because students often forget their login passwords. 24 hours seems to be enough of a penalty.