iMessage issue causes headaches for stolen iPhone users


Multiple users who've had their iPhones stolen are reporting that iMessage is still linked to their stolen device even after they've conducted a remote wipe, deactivated their iPhone with the carrier, and even changed their Apple ID password. This means that whomever steals or buys a stolen iPhone may have the ability to iMessage from the original owners account, pretty much impersonating them.

Although Apple has yet to comment on the situation, Ars Technica was able to get iOS security expert Jonathan Zdziarski to chime in on his thoughts of why this may be occurring.

"iMessage registers with the subscriber's phone number from the SIM, so let's say you restore the phone, it will still read the phone number from the SIM. I suppose if you change the SIM out after the phone has been configured, the old number might be cached somewhere either on the phone or on Apple's servers with the UDID of the phone."

In short, Apple needs to fix this, and quick. If your iPhone ever gets stolen, there's absolutely no way to remove iMessage from the device -- which will appear as if you were sending the messages yourself -- and the unfortunate part is that there doesn't appear to be a fix in sight.

Source: Ars Technica

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Andrew Wray

Andrew Wray is a Salt Lake City, Utah based writer who focuses on news, how-tos, and jailbreak. Andrew also enjoys running, spending time with his daughter, and jamming out on his guitar. He works in a management position for Unisys Technical Services, a subsidiary of Unisys Corporation.

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Reader comments

iMessage issue causes headaches for stolen iPhone users


This freaks me out. For anyone who conducts business over their iPhone, this is a disaster waiting to happen. This has to be fixed ASAP!

So... then... it's not a "headache for stolen iPhone users"... but rather a headache for iPhone users who have had their iPhones stolen.

I can confirm this happened to me! I sold my iPhone 4 to supplement the purchase of my iPhone 4s. Shortly before selling I upgraded to IOS5. I DID complete a full wipe of all data. I sold to a small local wireless reseller shop and they sold the phone. The new owner got ALL my iMessage texts. (my phone was Verizon BTW)
No solution after calling support and web searches. The reseller finally got back in contact with the new owner and they agreed to turn off iMessage altogether in the settings as a workaround. I am taking their word, they very well could still be getting all my texts. (note only the texts that travel over wifi and through iMessage were being routed to both the old iPhone 4 and my new iPhone 4s)

If anyone else can confirm this with me I would appreciate it! This is NOT only an issue with stolen iPhones. I can personally assure you of this.

ChadF- Did you also leave your old microsim card in your old iphone 4?
I had iOS5 on my old iphone4 before I sold it and I was using iMessages. I did downgrade it to iOS 4.3.3 at the buyer's request but he wasn't to upgrade it to iOS5 until there was a released untethered jailbreak. I didn't leave my old SIM card in it either.

Not exactly the same issue... I sold my iP4 to my son. Before giving it to him, I wiped the data, restored as new, wiped the data again, and took the SIM card out. He opened an account with AT&T, inserted a brand new SIM card, went through the set-up screens, and it asked him for my Apple Store password. He had to go into settings and change the login ID.
iMessages, however, appear to be OK. Mine are delivered to my iP4s. My son's go to the old iP4.

I've had the same issue when I recently changed my number. iMessage continued to be directed to my old number..try it simple demo.

I've had he same issue with FaceTime too. My wife recently changed her number. However when I try to FaceTime her I need to use to use her old number. (thankfully no one has picked up that number yet) FaceTime refuses to identify the device if the # is changed. This is a serious issue or our kids will end up FaceTiming some stranger...:-(

Does this issue apply to the iTouch and the iPad too? The article has only mentioned iPhone while the other products are visible in the picture above...

Hey, yeah, it wokerd for me Have you tried to restore and do it all over again? =)Other than that; I've sadly got no other idea :/Hope it works for you too, though =)